Growth throughout the industry had accelerated since January 2017, due to an increase in product premiumisation across a range of categories.
The sector was also boosted by more regular purchases by consumers, as they headed to the frozen food aisle more frequently to incorporate frozen products into their daily diet.
The frozen confectionery and frozen fish categories out-performed the sector in growth. Frozen confectionery held a 21.5% market share, an increase of 7.7%, while fish took 13.6%, up 6.9%.
Confectionery and frozen fish
Kantar said the figures had risen consistently in the past three quarters, due to a focus on innovation across both categories.
Frozen food manufacturers continued to lead with development and premiumisation to offer customers high quality, on-trend products that can be easily prepared at home, said the British Frozen Food Federation.
John Hyman, chief executive of the BFFF, said: “Hitting the £6bn mark is a huge milestone for the frozen food industry and is a demonstration of the talent and innovation that exists in the sector.
“A lot of work has been done in communicating the benefits of frozen food to consumers, with focused and innovative marketing campaigns from brands and retailers contributing significantly to the change in consumer perceptions that we’ve seen in recent years.”
Aware of the benefits of frozen food
Hyman added that consumers were more aware of the benefits of frozen food – including waste reduction, convenience and health – and were discovering the choice in high-quality, on-trend products frozen food provided them with.
“As the number of Brits eating out of home declines, consumers are heading for the premium products on offer in the frozen aisles and this has contributed to this value milestone,” claimed Hyman.
Last year, the BFFF estimated the value of the British frozen food market at £8.13bn. The value included retail sales of £3.73bn and foodservice sales of £2.4bn.
Meanwhile, in July, retail frozen food sales grew 3% to £5.8bn, boosted by ice cream and frozen confectionery.