Frozen food sector shows a healthy future

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Chalcroft once again sponsored the recent British Frozen Food Federation (BFFF) November Industry Forum. The event provides a comprehensive update of economic aspects and trends of the sector. For the first time ever, the UK frozen food sector is worth £6bn.

One of the speakers was Chris Hayward, Head of UK Business Development at Kantar Worldpanel UK, an organisation dealing in “consumer knowledge and insights based on continuous consumer panels”. We asked him for his thoughts on what had driven this growth.

“Smaller households of one or two people are contributing to this growth, it’s not just large families purchasing frozen goods. The frequency of shopping has increased, with the consumer focusing on products that can fall into the happy, healthy and easier range,” he said. People are likely to want products that are easy to use; Chris cited the example of frozen chicken strips that go straight into woks.

“The premiumisation of products, like ice cream, are likely to make people happy. Those strips of chicken, and items like frozen fish, are also healthy.”

And the future?

“I see healthy and easy being the driver, although premiumisation will still be important,” says Chris. “The healthy lifestyle angle is an on-going trend, as is the easier part, because people have less and less time.”

Graham Loudon of CGA told delegates that the economy is starting to see the saturation of out-of-home food service. A figure he presented showed that there are 46% more managed restaurants now than in 2012. Graham added that there are key opportunities for foodservice suppliers to supply different cuisine types. He concluded by saying that with so much competition, differentiation would be achieved by offering good quality ingredients, variety and experience.

James Walton from IGD expressed his view that the value of the pound provided export opportunities for international traders, but he did caution that there are signs of a slowing UK economy.

The volume of grocery sales was declining, he said, but the value is increasing, and therefore price is a major driver of growth. He added that food prices are currently below their 3.7% peak but they still exceed income growth. In the future, shoppers will switch brands more.

The presentations from the BFFF Industry Forum can be viewed here >>>