Frozen food cabinets

Keep it Cool supports growth in the frozen food market

admin Company news, Food industry news

As specialists in same-day temperature-controlled deliveries, a large part of our work is the distribution of frozen foods. We deliver to RDCs for all the major supermarkets and since the coronavirus pandemic, we’ve noticed increased demand. Figures released this week backed up our hunch.

The latest statistics from the British Frozen Food Federation (BFFF) showed that sales of frozen food increased by £285m in the last three months. The growth in sales is double that of the previous 12 week period. The trend was first reported in April, when data revealed that in the four weeks from 23rd February to 22nd March, British shoppers spent an extra £131 million on frozen foods including ice cream, meat and fish. This coincided with the start of lockdown, as a wave of panic-buying and freezer-filling swept the UK.

In the past, frozen food has suffered from an image problem. Research in 2016 showed that one in three Britons believed it inferior to fresh food, and 43% said nothing could persuade them to buy more frozen items.

“I’m trying to remove the prejudice against frozen food,” proclaimed Iceland chief executive Malcolm Walker when the retailer opened a new ‘posh’ store in Clapham.

Research does support the idea that class influences people’s attitudes to frozen. In 2017, 28% of shoppers in social grades D and E thought frozen food was worse quality than fresh food, compared to 36% of those in A and B. However, as the chart below shows, age has a far greater influence. 

Graphic from The Grocer showing how age affects attitude to frozen food.

However, data from the last 12 weeks demonstrates that increasing numbers of younger people are being converted to the health benefits and convenience of frozen food. More than a quarter (26%) of 18-24 year olds are buying more frozen equivalents of their regular fresh items, while 40% have been stocking up on healthy frozen options including frozen vegetables, fruit, meat and fish. Almost a third (31%) are trying new frozen foods such as meat substitutes.

Millennials (those aged between 26 and 40) kickstarted the trend for frozen, with sales figures beginning to rise in this age group a couple of years ago. Thee are a number of factors. Firstly, convenience – as a Euromonitor analyst explained: “The average millennial doesn’t have time to make a full meal with fresh meat and produce. More and more they’re seeing [frozen] products as viable options.”

The growth of veganism has also helped boost sales of frozen goods, with people spending increasing amounts of money on things like meat-free burgers.

Plant-based frozen foods like these from Aldi are driving growth among young people.

Some obstacles remain. Although the growth in plant-based and other frozen is being driven by younger shoppers, they rarely have large freezers. What little freezer space they have is traditionally dominated by ice cream and pizza – and those habits can be hard to change.

However, the frozen food sales figures from March 2020 onwards are very encouraging. Richard Harrow, chief executive of the British Frozen Food Federation, said: “We now know more consumers than ever have been shopping in the frozen aisle since mid-March. Individual retailers have reported a huge surge in frozen sales during lockdown. What’s really encouraging is that quality and innovation is attracting new younger consumers to the category.”

“This data is incredibly welcome news. Now that many more consumers have discovered the benefits of frozen food, further innovation and creativity will ensure frozen continues to be a key part of their shopping repertoire.”

At Keep it Cool, we’ll continue to support the industry with our same day and emergency delivery service for frozen and chilled food products. You can rely on us for an immediate response, 24 hours a day, with a driver immediately on the road. If you want to know more or get a quote, call 01274 271451 or email info@keepitcool.co.uk. Our same day food transportation service is available nationwide across the UK.