Healthy Demand for Frozen Fruit Products Ripe in UK Retail Market

Highlighting the continued trend towards buying frozen food in the United Kingdom, the frozen fruit market continues to demonstrate considerable growth. According to Kantar, 34.7% of the British population now purchases frozen fruit, which is an increase of 15% since 2017. In fact, this category saw value sales of £158.5 million (up 3% year on year for the week ending September 5, 2021) – and this improved market performance resulted from shoppers making more frequent trips to supermarkets.

Convenience and Sustainability

Millions of new customers in the UK have been drawn to the frozen fruit section since the coronavirus pandemic (SARS-CoV-2) health crisis spread from China to infect virtually the entire world more than 18 months ago. The attraction is both convenience and flavor, with families and younger consumers in particular looking for affordable healthy options with a longer shelf life.

With young people becoming more focussed on sustainability, frozen fruits have been a go-to option for those looking to minimize food waste and manage food preparation. Notably, research from Kantar and the British Frozen Food Federation (BFFF) shows 26% of 18–24-year-olds are buying more frozen equivalents of so-called “fresh” items.

“The pandemic has created and accelerated trends that have been beneficial for the frozen fruits category,” said William Burton, Ardo UK’s sales and marketing director. “The increased focus on health and lifestyle has reinforced the virtues of freezing fruit at source, preserving valuable nutrients compared to ‘fresh’ produce. Campaigns against food waste are also a powerful driver, especially for young consumers, as people want easily accessible food that won’t deteriorate.”

Burton believes the category still retains significant growth potential as consumers are constantly looking for ways to plan their meals ahead of time, purchase good value for money, and explore new flavors and ingredients that don’t compromise on quality.  

“Even as people return to the office, they will retain many of the dietary habits adopted through the pandemic, including making their own breakfasts and lunches,” said Burton. “Frozen fruit offers an ideal solution with quick, great tasting affordable options that can be incorporated into easily transported smoothies and snacks that can be prepared ahead of time.”

The rise of pre-packed fresh berries leads to waste as consumers are forced to buy in larger quantities, which means fruit may go bad before it can be eaten. However, frozen varieties help minimize excess spending and food waste.

BFFF Chief Executive Richard Harrow

“Achieving net zero will require action from individuals as well as businesses,” said Richard Harrow, chief executive of the BFFF. “When fruit is bought frozen, consumers can use as much or as little as they need, putting the rest back in the freezer without the risk of it going off. So while making the switch to frozen fruit may seem like a small step, it can make a big difference in reducing levels of household food waste. In the wake of the pandemic, and as sustainability issues are once again in sharp focus, buying frozen is a positive action we can all take for the environment.”

Healthy Option

Health is a key driver, particularly following the Covid-19 outbreak. Consumers are better informed when it comes to frozen products and many now realize that freshly-frozen fruits retain nutritional value as they are frozen quickly after being harvested. 

Almost all frozen fruit products have seen success in 2020 and into 2021, with berry mixes, blueberries and raspberries being Ardo’s top sellers. Blueberries have retained their popularity, emerging from the “superfood” trend, with consumers attracted by their low calorie and high nutrient status. 

“Berry mixes are popular with consumers seeking a variety of flavors and textures at a price point that is far more accessible than if they purchased fresh alternatives,” said Burton. “The popularity of frozen fruit products is set to continue, as more health-conscious consumers look for convenient, nutritional breakfasts and snacks to fuel their days.”

Smooth Operators

Smoothies have become a go-to choice for many people looking for a tasty way to reach the recommended five-a-day fruit and vegetable consumption goal promoted to lower the risk of certain health problems, such as heart disease, stroke and some types of cancer.

Mordor Intelligence projects the global smoothie market to register a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 7.2% during the 2020-2025 forecast period. 

“A rising number of health-conscious consumers coupled with increasing demand for convenience and value is driving the demand for smoothies and smoothie bowls,” said Burton. “In fact, the fruit-based smoothies segment accounts for the largest market share and is expected to be the fastest growing segment.

“Frozen fruit is predominately eaten within the home, thus key consumption occasions remain breakfast and evening. The main uses for frozen fruit are associated with breakfast, which has seen more consumers creating their own smoothies, as well as in the evening, including yoghurts and ice cream.”

All the major supermarkets in the UK now stock frozen fruit and frozen smoothie pack options under their own labels. Tesco, for example, sells a Green Smoothie Mix, while ASDA has a frozen Summer Fruits and Banana Smoothie Mix option. Morrisons has three smoothie mixes to choose from, including a breakfast smoothie mix. Consumers can buy three different smoothie mixes from Aldi under its Four Seasons brand.

Fruity Combination

Earlier in the year, canned fruit brand Del Monte partnered up with Iceland and launched an extensive frozen fruits range, exclusively available online and from the Iceland retail stores and its Food Warehouse outlets.

The range consists of 11 lines, including 350-gram single variant packs of popular fruits such as frozen raspberries and blueberries, as well as offerings such as the 500-gram pack of Del Monte Strawberry & Banana Smoothie Mix.

“Frozen fruit not only offers convenience and value, it is also an incredible way to lock in nutrients and guarantee quality by freezing the best varieties at peak season,” said Andrew Staniland, trading director at Iceland. “The exclusive Del Monte range is a great option for our shoppers, allowing them to reduce food waste whilst feeding their families delicious, healthy fruit.” 

The popularity of frozen fruit looks set to continue as consumers see all the benefits it offers, not only in terms of cost, but in the reduction wastage too. As more fruit options emerge in this sector, so too will sales volume.

– Reported by Sara Welsh