Frozen food’s growth fuelled by consumer trends: BFFF boss

By John Hyman

- Last updated on GMT

Hyman: ‘With current economic trends, the sector is stronger than it’s ever been’
Hyman: ‘With current economic trends, the sector is stronger than it’s ever been’
The UK frozen food sector is currently the fastest growing retail category, but what’s behind its success? British Frozen Food Federation (BFFF) chief executive John Hyman explores the forces expected to drive the sector up to 2025 and beyond.

After a tremendous year in 2018, the frozen food industry is now worth £8.6bn and growing at 4% year on year, making it the fastest growing retail food category at 3.6%, ahead of ambient (3.2%) and chilled (2.1%).

This growth is set to continue. In fact, combined retail and foodservice frozen food sales are expected to exceed £10bn by 2025.

At the BFFF, we believe that frozen food is well set for future growth – and with current economic trends, the sector is stronger than it’s ever been. As consumer demands become more complex and far reaching, frozen food is ideally-placed to inspire consumers with innovation in premiumisation and natural health, technology-enabling convenience, and as a solution to food waste.

Frozen already over-indexes online, and with online shopping becoming the norm within households, we expect to see the positive impact this has had on frozen sales continue. We are also not even halfway through the premiumisation journey for the industry as a whole, with the aim to see premium products across every single category.

Innovation and pro-activeness

So, with the innovation and pro-activeness that we have come to expect from our industry, I am very confident we will see further step change.

Due to technological advances and ability to react quickly to consumer trends, the frozen food industry has a strong advantage in that it is able to provide consumers with high-quality home versions of trendsetting dishes they see on restaurant menus.

This level of innovation and product choice are key factors in improving the perceptions around frozen food and increasing consumer curiosity around the product offering that is available in the frozen food aisle.

This, in turn, increases consumer confidence when branching out into new product categories within frozen food, increasing the number of meal occasions that frozen is a part of, which contributes to our main goal of consumers heading to the freezer as often as they use their fridge.

Adapting to a more plant-based diet

We are a society increasingly adapting to a more plant-based diet, and frozen ingredients are incredibly well suited to this challenge. As consumers continue to up their vegetable intake, preparation time needed will also increase – but in contrast to the vast array of pre-prepared fresh vegetables now available across all the major retailers – preparation time with frozen equivalents is eradicated, not to mention the cost savings associated with less waste.

What’s more, waste is considerably reduced earlier in the supply chain, as products that might originally be rejected due to appearance can be prepared for foodservice or home consumption and used, eliminating a major cause of food waste.

If we look further into the future and the continued technological developments across the entire food supply chain, frozen food continues to excel. With the rise of robotic delivery, consumers and suppliers alike can be safe in the knowledge that the integrity of their food will not be compromised in transit, offering even more freedom to purchase frozen and eliminating the old concern that frozen products will defrost in the car.

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