Frozen foods soared in panic-buying spree

By Michelle Perrett

- Last updated on GMT

Frozen fish and peas saw a sales surge.
Frozen fish and peas saw a sales surge.

Related tags coronavirus

Sales of fish fingers and frozen peas are skyrocketing as millions of hungry schoolchildren swap school dinners for lunchtime at home, the latest figures from the British Food Federation (BFFF) and Kantar have revealed.

Some retailers have reported a 48% increase in the sale of fish fingers and a 68% increase in purchases of frozen peas.

Sales data from the four weeks from 23 Feb to 22 March showed that British shoppers spent an extra £130m on everything from ice cream to frozen meat and poultry, as they filled up their freezers before the lockdown began on 23 March.

 Total sales of frozen food jumped 28.3% in volume and 28.1% in value compared to the same four-week period last year. In total, UK shoppers bought over £6.4bn-worth of frozen food in the year between March 2019 and March 2020.


Frozen food sales increase

Kantar figures revealed that every category of frozen food saw a sales increase over the four-week period, with frozen veg up 42.5% in volume, frozen meat and poultry up 34.8% in volume and frozen savoury food up 36.7% in volume. Ice cream and frozen confectionery sales also increased in volume by 5.4% and 7.4% respectively.

At the same time, visits to the BFFF’s consumer website​ surged, with an extra 45,725 visitors between 1 and 25 April, a 320% increase on April 2019.

Richard Harrow, BFFF chief executive said: “Our research with individual retailers has revealed they are all experiencing a surge in frozen sales. Some have reported sales of pizza up 50% and sales of frozen broccoli up 93%.  

“The recent warm weather has also seen one supermarket chain’s sales of ice cream increase by 50%. Supply remains in good shape, although supply chains are at full stretch. Various actions, such as simplified ranging, have been introduced to help ensure the industry can keep products on sale as demand continues to remain high.”


Orders disappear

Harrow added that these figures were in “stark contrast”​ to what is happening in the hospitality and catering industry where many of its members have seen orders disappear overnight. The BFFF has called for the Government support now reaching hotels, restaurants and catering companies to be shared with the wholesalers and manufacturers that supply them. 

Kantar’s 52-week figures ending 22 March also showed that sales of frozen food were up in terms of both value, by 1.7%, and volume, by 1.3%. Categories that did particularly well were: pizza – up 7.9% in value and 10% in volume; frozen veg – up 3.7% in value and 5.1% in volume; and potato products – up 5.7% in value and 3.4% volume. Frozen fish was also up 4.6% in value and 1.6% in volume. 

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