This year has been a period of great success for the frozen food industry in the United Kingdom, reports John Hyman, chief executive of the British Frozen Food Federation (BFFF), as value growth was achieved across almost every category in the 52-weeks that ended on September 9, 2018.
“The latest statistics, provided by Kantar Worldpanel, value the retail frozen food market as a whole at over £6.3 billion, having charted an impressive 5% value growth year-on-year (yoy). Since hitting the £6 billion mark in October of 2017, the market has continued to see consistent growth in both value and volume in each quarter,” Hyman told FrozenFoodsBiz.com.
When asked by the editors to provide a performance review of 2018 and offer predictions for 2019, the chief executive positively replied as follows:
“The summer heat wave definitely gave the industry a boost. Spanning the World Cup kickoff in June through to the August bank holiday and beyond, the figures showed that consumers spent £74 million more on ice cream. Unsurprisingly, this category had substantial growth with a staggering increase in value of 13.2% yoy. Branded sales of some of the summer favorites such as frozen desserts, combined to produce an extra €29 million (about £25 million) in turnover compared with last year.
“While consumer confidence has seen a knock in the light of Brexit negotiations, with spending reined in, the frozen food market has remained the most buoyant part of the grocery sector. We have seen an overall 5% market growth in the last 12 months, putting frozen food ahead of both chilled and ambient. We are also the best performing retail category online and are seeing mirrored success in foodservice.
“We put these successes down to our innovation, a move into premium quality products and the convenience of our everyday products which save food waste every day. The frozen food industry is offering highly relevant products to consumers’ kitchens, delivering solutions to problems whether in the home or the restaurant kitchen, and this is being recognized.
“A number of initiatives were launched over the past 12 months, including the BFFF’s new ‘Fresh from the Freezer’ marketing campaign, which will showcase the benefits of frozen food to both consumers and chefs. The video-centered campaign will last for six months and will be built on next year. Other initiatives included the first ever People Awards, which was attended by over 300 people and will take place again on February 7, 2019, celebrating the unsung heroes of our industry.”
What to Expect in 2019
“Based on the figures from this year, we are looking forward to the future growth potential of the frozen food category,” continued Hyman. “We have an industry growth target of £10 billion, and are expecting to see more innovation and a broader choice in premium products. We are also expecting to see greater awareness of the health benefits offered by frozen food from our consumers, which we hope our ‘Fresh from the Freezer’ campaign will drive.
“Most consumers discover frozen food when they start a family, as they will be looking for convenience. Traditionally, convenience has been about speed, but now includes ease of preparation and providing high quality on-trend products that are ready to eat in 20-25 minutes, and taste amazing. As a result, more and more people are heading to the frozen food aisles where they know they can get restaurant quality products to enjoy at home.
“Because of this, frozen food is steadily reaching more demographics, including students and single person households; people who enjoy cooking regularly, and encourage them to use their freezer as regularly as they use their fridge. If we can make more consumers aware of how much waste is created by scratch cooking, they can come to appreciate having pre-prepared elements such as diced onions or sliced mushrooms which allows them to use what they want and put the rest back in the freezer.
“Overall, the results we’ve seen this year have proven that due to the convenience and quality benefits of frozen food, consumers are willing to spend that little bit extra to fully satisfy themselves, which so far has helped the market gain both value and volume growth year on year. This is a testament to the fact that frozen food, the entire range available, is ideally placed to tap into the trends underpinning the eating habits of consumers during all seasons. Though consumers are still buying traditional frozen products like ice cream, NPD is driving them to incorporate more frozen savory products and ingredients into their daily diets, which is good news for the frozen food industry.”