The Frozen Food Report found that retail frozen food sales grew 13.5% in 2021 compared to pre-pandemic levels as shopping patterns continue to flex in response to changes in Government guidance on working from home and social distancing.
This growth was also in spite of the reopening of restaurants, pubs and cafes in April 2021 – though consumers have begun to shop less frequently and reduce the size of their shopping baskets, with year-on-year value growth of the frozen market slowing to 1.2%.
Commenting on the statistics, BFFF chief executive Richard Harrow said: “After two years of disruption, the retail market is returning to pre-pandemic normal, but frozen has attracted over 400,000 more shoppers in the last two years.
“Last year was another turbulent year for everyone in FMCG. With foodservice outlets opening back up in April, it would have been overly optimistic to assume the same success that we saw in 2020. However, when you look at the market compared to 2019, we have seen incredible growth. While consumers may have looked to frozen out of necessity in 2020, they have come back through choice in 2021.”
Sales of savoury frozen foods grew 19.8% since 2019, with the plant-based category up 16.8%. Data from Kantar Worldpanel found that ice cream was the largest single category in frozen, raking in £1.3bn and accounting for 18.6% of overall frozen sales.
Fish on the rise
Frozen fish also topped £1bn in 2020, while 2021’s sales represented a 16.4% (£141.2m) gain in two years.
Harrow added: “There has been incredible innovation in the frozen plant-based category … it’s no surprise that consumers with all kinds of dietary needs and preferences are adding these types of products to their baskets. The plant-based category is growing at four times the rate of meat analogue products and we expect this trend to continue.”
Food waste was also another key area within the frozen food space that Harrow saw as a factor in its growth over the past year.
“The majority of shoppers (62%) are now influenced in their food and drink purchases by sustainability issues and frozen food, with its proven ability to cut food waste, is perfectly positioned to help,” Harrow continued.