Home freezer sales show uptick amid pandemic

The Yomiuri Shimbun
A staffer is seen with a home freezer at BicCamera Yurakucho Store in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo.

Home freezers are gaining popularity amid the spread of the novel coronavirus as food-stockpiling consumers hanker after additional freezing space.

These appliances, which are often referred to as second freezers, complement the limited capacity of standard refrigerators, and have even started turning up in for-sale furnished homes.

BicCamera Yurakucho Store in Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward newly established a freezer section in the spring of 2020. Previously, freezers were an intermittent seller at the outlet and sat in a corner of the refrigerator section. Recently, however, their popularity has burgeoned after a number of schools temporarily suspended provision of school lunches due to the ongoing pandemic.

“Various types of consumers are purchasing freezers, including families who prepare lunch boxes for their children and elderly individuals who buy frozen foods in bulk,” said Taira Onaya, a floorman in the store’s home appliance section.

According to a survey by the Japan Frozen Food Association, domestic production of frozen foods for household use in 2020 was up 771,265 tons, a rise of 11.4% on the previous year. The store’s most popular freezers include a large-capacity, 100-liter-plus model, and a slim, 36-centimeter-wide model, both of which open from the front. Prices primarily range between ¥20,000 and ¥30,000. “We advise customers to choose a model based on its ultimate location and ease of organization,” Onaya said.

In November 2020, Chuo Jutaku Co. — part of the Polus Group, a general housing manufacturer in Saitama Prefecture — began selling furnished houses equipped with a 120-liter freezer as standard in the Tokyo metropolitan area. As of the end of 2021, the firm had sold about such 270 such homes.

These freezer-furnished facilities have proved particularly popular among households with children and people who frequently visit large stores in the suburbs.

Miyuki Shimamoto, a food-preservation advisor, believes the demand for freezers will continue to rise in light of the growing popularity of online shopping and the availability of local specialties in frozen form.

If people overbuy frozen foods, however, they may find it difficult to keep them organized and fail to consume them prior to the expiration date. “I hope people will get into the habit of reviewing the contents of their freezers at least once a month,” Shimamoto said.