DESPITE the horsemeat scandal, the frozen food market is now worth more than £5.6bn and grew in value by 4.5% last year.
According to Kantar Worldpanel, quoted by the British Frozen Food Federation, the biggest downturn was in ready meals, where the horsemeat effect was clearly visible. Their growth rate, which was running at 6.2% three months ago, is now down to 1.75%.
Frozen vegetables, however, have had a much better time, growing 8.8% since 2012. Savoury foods (up 5.9%) and potato products (up 8.4%) are among the other winners.
According to the BFFF: “The latest numbers show that there was bound to be a hiccup in the fabulous growth performance that frozen has been achieving for the last 26 quarters but it was not as marked as some commentators might have believed.
“The underlying benefits of frozen foods – convenience, minimal waste, locked in goodness and terrific value – are the very same reasons why consumers will continue to buy frozen. Their buying habits might have switched between different protein types or increased consumption of vegetables and fish but in difficult economic times, with household budgets severely squeezed, the frozen food sector remains an invaluable option for hard-pressed consumers.”
The BFFF takes comfort in the fact that volumes of frozen food items have increased for the last three quarters, growing by 1.8% year on year.
“When when the grocery market in total is struggling to achieve any volume growth, this is a very healthy number indeed,” a BFFF spokesperson commented, adding that there is a clear pattern of consumers switching from fresh to frozen vegetables and potatoes.
“Clearly there may still be some further bad news for the hard-pressed ready-meals sector,” the spokesperson continued. “One would imagine the meat and poultry sector – which has seen value growth reduce from 10.3% to 5.6% – might have some further pain but the overriding message is that frozen is still a growth market both in terms of value and volume and is likely to remain so.”