“The last 12 months have been strong and steady for the frozen food industry. While patterns and trends have shifted over the course of 2014, the gradual growth of the frozen food market has remained constant.
“One of the varying trends emerging concerns consumer buying habits. A recent report from SyndicatePlus found the number of Europeans doing their food shopping online has increased by 60% over the past five years.
“This developing habit of shopping online has been evident for a number of years for frozen. This report, and others, point towards time-poor shoppers shunning out of town supermarkets in favour of online retailers for large food shops.
“The emergence of online shopping is beneficial to the frozen industry, as consumers embrace the great value, minimal wastage and locked in goodness of frozen, without venturing down the cold, uninspiring frozen shopper aisles in supermarkets.
“This change in buying behaviour bodes well for the industry financially, with a recent Kantar Worldpanel report valuing the frozen food retail industry at almost £5.8b, a value increase of 1.6% year-on-year.”
Frozen Food Success
“The strong and consistent growth figures over the previous year indicate that the frozen food industry has been resilient to changing retailer performance and shopper behaviour.
“The stand-out performer in the frozen market over the last year is the savoury food sector, including pastries and vegetarian products, which grew in value by 4.9%.
“Frozen potato products and ice cream products also had a strong year, with innovation in NPD helping increase the value of potato products and good weather contributing to high figures for ice cream.”
Battling Food Waste
“Another key issue throughout 2014 was that of food waste. We conducted research early on in the year to highlight the pivotal role that frozen food can play in combatting the problem.
“The study found that 62% of consumers throw away food that they’ve frozen at home from fresh because it no longer looks appetising; indicating that heading straight for the frozen food section can help prevent a lot of needless food waste.
Saving Money With Frozen
“A further trend witnessed in 2014 was a divergence in fortunes between the previously established big retail supermarkets and the discount retailers such as Aldi and Lidl. This shows that value for money remains a high priority for the consumer – an area where frozen food excels.
“As the UK continues to emerge from the recession we can expect to see similar strong figures in 2015 for the frozen food retail market. While following previous recessions, where frozen has grown only to decrease following economic recovery, the perception and understanding of frozen food has changed notably since 2008.
“Awareness of the nutritional qualities of frozen food, along with the cost benefits and comparison in texture has replaced misconceptions held in previous decades.
“Another strong and steady year is predicted for frozen food in 2015. Figures show that several of the frozen food industry sectors have grown consistently over many quarters, proving the multiple qualities of frozen will provide solutions to the continuing challenges and demands faced by consumers and the foodservice industry alike.
Comments from Brian Young, chief executive of British Frozen Food Federation.
Read our full Review of the Year in this issue of The Grocery Trader, starting on page 9.