frozenFrozen food marketers, in a bid to reverse sales declines and connect with consumers interested in fresh and natural foods, today kicked off a campaign to pitch freezing as a means of keeping food fresh.

Kraig Naasz, president and CEO of the industry's Virginia-based trade group, the American Frozen Foods Institute, said its new "Frozen. How Fresh Stays Fresh" push shows that freezing is "simply nature's pause button that keeps fresh foods at the their peak of freshness."

GolinHarris and sister Interpublic ad agency McCann Erickson are supporting the effort, said AFFI VP of communications Corey Henry. Advertising, online engagement and various promotions are part of the education campaign aimed to reach consumers where they live, work and shop. Author and dietician Keri Glassman is making media rounds for the group. 

The Associated Press reported sales of frozen meals are down three percent since 2009 as consumer interest in fresh and natural foods has increased. The New York Times last month reported on a Nestle campaign for its Stouffer's brand intended to shift "the perception among some consumers that processed frozen meals are not as tasty or nutritious as freshly prepared meals."

Stouffer's marketing director Tom Moe told the Times that sales declines are primarily driven by "consumer misperceptions over the quality and nutrition" of frozen foods.  

AFFI members like ConAgra Foods, Nestle USA, Hillshire Brands, HJ Heinz and General Mills are backing the effort.