Brian Young, BFFF director general, said that campaigns such as Jamie Oliver's promotion of Young's Seafood had made a big impact on consumers.
Also, the value of frozen food against chilled food had allowed consumers to budget when shopping more effectively.
Demand for frozen food had benefited too from more publicity about food waste, which had underlined the importance of not wasting food, he said.
Young said he expected growth in the frozen food sector this year to match the rate of 7.8% seen in the last recession. “The rate of growth in the frozen foods sector has doubled.
Strong Christmas sales
“We fully expect the figures in the next quarter to show this, due to consumer confidence in frozen foods and strong Christmas sales, and for this trend of growth to continue in 2012.”
Jonathan Thomas, principal marketing analyst at Leatherhead Food Research, said that more consumers were shedding their traditional negative image of frozen foods.
“Manufacturers have removed artificial ingredients and produced clear labelling that now appeals to cross conscious consumers,” he said.
“People have come to appreciate the value for money that frozen foods offer, despite the strong competition from the fresh and chilled foods sector.”
Thomas said that the true value of the frozen food sector was £7.5bn, once retail sales to food service outlets of £2.3bn had been added to the total.
Frozen food accounts for 22% of all caterers’ and chefs’ food purchases.
Research conducted by Manchester Food Research Centre showed that buying-in frozen food can save chefs 33% on the cost of making the same meal from scratch.
Margaret Jobling, marketing director of frozen foods manufacturer Birds Eye, described frozen food as a "trend".
She added: “Manufacturers are investing more heavily into educating consumers through advertising campaigns that highlight the positive benefits of eating frozen food. Consumers are also becoming increasingly aware of food waste and frozen offers a convenient solution with limited wastage.”
Meanwhile, last autumn, the BFFF confirmed that frozen food sales in the first 10 months of last year rose by 3.6% compared with the same period in 2010.
Sales of frozen fish grew by 4% to reach £755M.
Ready meals sales climbed 4.4% to reach £658M.