The History of NFRA
The National Frozen & Refrigerated Foods Association was founded in 1945 as “The National Wholesale Frozen Food Distributors.” At a meeting in New York City’s Yale Club, forty-two representatives of 36 distributing firms chartered the organization under the leadership of Burton Prince of New Haven, Connecticut.
In his opening address, Prince stated the purpose of the new Association was to give the distributors a “single voice” with which to deal with the government and other segments of the frozen food industry on issues of concern to the wholesale distributors. Though the Association has changed in many ways since those formative years, the concept of NFRA as the collective voice of the frozen and refrigerated dairy foods industry remains true today.
The 40s and 50s
The early years of NFRA were difficult both for the Association and the industry as a whole. Despite improved cooperation between the packer segment and the distributors, frozen food market share did not improve. There were several reasons for the lack of growth. First, refrigerator/freezers were still not in widespread use in the 1940s. Second, public perceptions of frozens were not high; and third, public and trade presses persisted in calling attention to the high costs and excessive inventories of frozen foods. Despite these disappointing facts, NFRA persevered.
As the Association entered the 1950s it counted a membership of 107 distributors and 46 associate packer and broker members. In recognition of the broadened membership, the word “Wholesale” was dropped from the organization title in 1955. Four years later, the word “Distributors” was dropped and the Association became known as the National Frozen Food Association.
The 80s and 90s
In response to observations that March was the slowest month for sales of frozen foods, Murray Lender (founder of Lender’s Bagels) led an effort to declare March as National Frozen Food Month. In March 1984, Lender and NFRA launched the first annual March Frozen Food Month promotion in an effort to raise sales dramatically. Today the promotion is nationally recognized in retail stores around the nation, promoting the benefits and importance of frozen foods and engaging shoppers. Also in 1984, President Ronald Reagan noted that the American frozen food industry was celebrating its 54th year of service, and dedicated an entire day to its accomplishments. March 6th became known as Frozen Food Day.
In 1990, the Frozen Food Hall of Fame was established by the Distinguished Order of Zerocrats, an organization of frozen food industry members whose purpose is to maintain the tradition of promoting the image and advancement of the frozen food industry. These members nominate and vote on the newest inductees, whose dedication and hard work have greatly benefited the industry. Today, NFRA and AFFI (American Frozen Food Institute) host the annual ceremony honoring the imagination and innovation that have ensured the continued growth and success of the frozen food industry.
In 2001, the refrigerated dairy foods department was incorporated into the Association because of its similarities to frozen in the retail market and the Association was renamed the National Frozen & Refrigerated Foods Association to recognize its broadened membership. Today, NFRA has grown to over 400 corporate members from every segment of the industry.
In 2003, national promotion June Dairy Month was established and the very first frozen and refrigerated Convention was held in Las Vegas. Through the years, NFRA has evolved to meet the growing needs of the retail sector by providing many quality programs and services.