America Loves Smoothies And The Frozen Foods Industry Knows It : The Salt Less than a decade ago, American consumers tended to buy frozen fruit as a dessert topping. But the smoothie craze changed how Americans eat frozen fruit — and pushed sales above $1 billion a year.
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America Loves Smoothies And The Frozen Foods Industry Knows It

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America Loves Smoothies And The Frozen Foods Industry Knows It

America Loves Smoothies And The Frozen Foods Industry Knows It

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ARUN RATH, HOST:

Last year, sales of frozen fruit in this country surpassed a billion dollars. The sales have more than doubled since 2011. What's behind this explosion of frozen fruit? Sarah Nassauer reports on the food business for the Wall Street Journal. She points to a pair of studies from the world's biggest seller of fresh fruit.

SARAH NASSAUER: Dole got into this business, started selling frozen fruit in 2005. And so in 2006, they did a big sort of frozen fruit usage study, and then they did another one last year in 2014.

RATH: They asked things like what kind of frozen fruit do you buy? How much? And most importantly, what do you use it for?

RATH: Back in 2006, Nassauer says...

NASSAUER: People saw it more as a dessert topping. It was near whipped toppings in the frozen food aisle. And it was in these sort of hard-to-find lie-flat bags that were, you know, what frozen fruit was in for decades.

RATH: But Dole thought here's this inherently healthy food. There's got to be a bigger market here.

NASSAUER: And so they very intentionally said let's put it in these stand-up bags, put shiny graphics on it, suggest healthy recipes like smoothies on the back of the bag. And that was definitely their approach. At the same time, I do think they probably got pretty lucky in terms of the health trends that has happened in those years as well.

RATH: One health trend in particular is leading the charge - smoothies. Busy, health-conscious Americans are sucking them down like mad.

NASSAUER: In 2014, they estimate that 60 percent of frozen fruit purchased went into smoothies. And that number was 21 percent in 2006.

(SOUNDBITE OF GROCERY STORE)

RATH: I went to the local Whole Foods. There you don't have to take the trouble of sliding glass out of the way. Unlike the veggies, the frozen fruit sit in a ready-to-grab, open, reach-in freezer.

There's frozen cherries, organic blueberries, cranberries, more sweet cherries, blueberries. These are a lot more nicely presented than when I was a kid. Some of these bags - the organic ones - look nice and wholesome. The organic berry basket blend stands up on its own - and beautiful pictures all over them. I think when I was a kid they were just sort of plain white bags.

No surprise, Sarah Nassauer says, sales of blenders are up. They also hit the billion-dollar mark for the first time last year. And to make things even easier, frozen food companies are now selling combo bags ready to blend. You can even get kale in the mix, if you're so inclined. Myself - I'll be sticking with a mango lassi.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HAM 'N' EGGS")

A TRIBE CALLED QUEST: (Rapping) I don't eat no ham and eggs 'cause they're high on cholesterol.

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