Demand for frozen food continues to rise

By Freddie Dawson

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: British frozen food, Frozen food federation, Meal

Premium products: Consumer perceptions have changed about frozen foods
Premium products: Consumer perceptions have changed about frozen foods
The value of the frozen food sector has soared to over £5bn so far this year, with 3.6% growth in the third quarter alone, the British Frozen Food Federation announced yesterday (October 25

Frozen food firms have attributed the growth to further innovation and an increase in the availability of premium frozen products, as well as a general change in consumer perceptions about frozen foods.

Brian Young, director general of British Frozen Food Federation, said: “It has been a difficult 12 months for manufacturers and consumers alike. However, manufacturers have continued to invest in their products and processes and consumers have reaped the benefits of huge variety, excellent value and great-tasting products.”

Categories that performed well included frozen fish, which grew by 4% in value to £755M. It also saw the same rise in volume, increasing to 130Mkg. Ready meals only grew by 1% in volume to a 2011 total of 177.5Mkg, but that resulted in a 4.4% increase in value, bringing it to £658M.

Rise in volume

The frozen fish category was boosted by more Marine Stewardship Council accredited products being available – tapping into growing consumer concerns over sustainability, said Young. Building on this, Young’s Seafood has recently launched an Easy Cook range of frozen, responsibly sourced fish chunks, said Natasha Gladman, marketing director at Young’s Seafood.

Introducing premium products, investing in advertising and attaining endorsements from celebrity chefs also helped the market grow, said Young. Gladman said her company’s Jamie Oliver range – launched in August this year – has already exceeded sales targets in its first four weeks.

She told Food “Young’s breaded products have been driving growth in the frozen fish category throughout the past months, as they remain a popular choice with consumers. We’ve seen good uplift and, as a result of this work, the whole breaded market has grown as well.”​ Investment in multi-platform advertising for its Chip Shop range has helped this, she said.

Popular choice

The increase in the value of the ready meal sector with only a small increase in volume can be attributed to the sector reversing perceptions of the inferior quality of frozen goods.

John Gymer, director of frozen ready meal manufacturer Tillman’s told Food “In the past, frozen food has often suffered from negative connotations regarding quality, and this is something we have worked hard to combat at Tillman’s.”

The use of better quality ingredients in products that are convenient for consumer use has enabled manufacturers in the sector to do this, he explained.

Young said: “Ready meals have been under-priced and over-promoted for countless years. That pricing strategy was simply unsustainable and had damaged perceptions of the category. Selling units at a higher price point will allow manufacturers to invest in product development and use better quality ingredients.”

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