The Greek word Ethos is defined as the practices, values and customs that distinguish one person or group from others. It’s like a culture code.
Some of the most prevalent cultural codes in America revolve around home, food and busy-bee action.
Ours is a culture on the move. We go, go, go, and then we go some more. We don’t have time to linger over our food. To us, food is seen as fuel. We fill up fast and we move on.
European cultures, on the other hand, see food as art. It’s pure pleasure, to be slowly savored.
At Eathos we’re creating a new generation of imported frozen entrees that embrace the ethos of both Italy and America. Old world and new school.
Cultural anthropologists say that Americans have a stronger sense of home than any other society on the planet. “Home is where the heart is” may be a cliché, but it has genuine, deep-seated roots in American culture.
Even in 2021 the ethos of the dinner table still occupies a significant place in our hearts. We may not have time for frequent family dinners, but we still feel the longing to reconnect around an evening meal. (Even if it’s only for a few minutes with the TV on in the background and cellphones on the table.)
That might explain the resurgence of frozen foods over the last five years.
Frozen entrees can accommodate our need for speed as well as our innate desire to connect with family members. When it’s done well, it can be a busy parent's perfect, guilt-free life hack.
When she combines Eathos entrees with a healthy salad she gets an easy, kid-pleasing meal in a matter of minutes. It’s food that fits her family’s schedule, that’s also relatively healthy and amazingly tasty. A far cry from the old Swanson dinners that granddad always had.
The frozen food category in general was enjoying a surge in popularity even before it was boosted dramatically by the COVID lockdown.
According to the American Frozen Food Institute, growth in 2019 was a healthy 4.1%. In 2020 U.S. retail sales saw a 21% jump over 2019. Nearly all types of frozen foods experienced double-digit sales increases, but plant-based frozen is the fastest growing segment.
COVID gave people an excuse to buy frozen again, and that trend is not going to fade any time soon.
Frozen food industry experts point to several major trends in product development: new technologies in frozen food preservation, more flavor diversity and new health-conscious offerings.
In addition, there’s a demographic shift that’s contributing to the category growth: The rising need for convenience among busy millennials, who are maturing financially while feeding growing families.
Analysts from Supermarketguru.com suggest the recent trend toward in frozen is a direct result of innovative food preservation technology that allow for the creation of frozen items without extra additives like sodium, sugar, preservatives and colorings.
Taste, of course, is also a huge factor. It doesn’t matter how healthy it is — if it doesn’t taste great it’s never going to fly.
Manufacturers are focusing on better sauces, higher quality ingredients, more inventive recipes, a broader range of ethnic flavors and a generally healthier approach. That is what has brought people back to frozen food.
Ten years ago the frozen food category of the grocery industry was moving like a glacier during global warming. Health-conscious consumers were avoiding the middle aisles of the grocery store in favor of fresh produce, individual organic ingredients and bespoke dinner preparations that required a lot of time and effort to produce.
Only a small number of supermoms and dads have been able to sustain that. All the rest are looking for simpler solutions for quick, weeknight meals or lunches.
It’s what some industry analysts are now calling COVID-induced preparation fatigue. The pressure to prepare fresh, healthy meals all the time causes stress and undue societal pressure. So as long as people are confident they’re not sacrificing healthiness, they will opt for the convenience of frozen.
High-end frozen brands like Eathos are delivering options that meet dietary restrictions and lifestyle choices such as non-GMO, gluten free, dairy free and vegan.
At Eathos all our entrees are meat-free and four of our first nine recipes are vegan. We’re borrowing from the age-old traditions of Italian cooking and giving it our own, modern American spin — with the addition of popular superfoods and plant-based meat alternatives.
Gene Grant, Eathos Brand Manager, says that his goal really is to bring the two cultures together into a movement. “We want to get Americans to eat more mindfully, like the Italians do. It’s a simple as that.”
The stated purpose of Eathos is to enable people to eat mindfully, even when they’re rushing from work to soccer practice, or wherever. To accomplish that goal, Grant says you have to curate the best recipes from around the world and then deliver them in convenient form. Without sacrificing flavor.
For that they turned to the Italians.
We decided to import our product from the Rolli family in Italy because they have a 100- year-old tradition that we just can’t match anywhere in the states,” Grant said. “There’s a culinary ethos there that we simply can’t duplicate.”
That ethos translates to nuanced flavors in the Eathos sauces and perfect texture in our pastas. They are simple unequaled in the frozen food world.
You can find Eathos entrees in west coast Target stores beginning on Oct. 10, 2021.