Frozen surge continues as sector outperforms fresh and chilled

Adella Miesner

The growth in sales follows an increase of £285m in the previous 12-week period from the end of March to 14 June, indicating that the popularity of frozen food has continued as local lockdowns in the UK persist. The latest Kantar figures for frozen retail sales in the 52 weeks […]

The growth in sales follows an increase of £285m in the previous 12-week period from the end of March to 14 June, indicating that the popularity of frozen food has continued as local lockdowns in the UK persist.

The latest Kantar figures for frozen retail sales in the 52 weeks ending 6 September revealed:

  • In the three months since 8 June, value rose by 13.6%, whilst volume was up by 9.9%.
  • The overall grocery market grew 8.5% in value and 6.7% in volume over the 52-week period.
  • Frozen has outperformed total grocery growth in both value (9.7%) and volume (8.4%).
  • Over the 52-week period, the frozen category added £617m in sales value and 175 tonnes in volume.
  • The frozen category has outperformed the fresh and chilled category in percentage growth terms.

The surge in sales follows a trend first reported by BFFF in April, when data revealed that in the four weeks from 23 February to 22 March, British shoppers spent an extra £131 million on everything, from ice cream to frozen meat and poultry, as they filled up their freezers before the lockdown began on 23 March.

The consumer trend has also been illustrated by strong results from the likes of Birds Eye, Iglo and Green Cuisine-owner Nomad Foods. Last month it predicted a permanent shift towards the category​ among shoppers owing to COVID-19 lockdown restrictions.

Commenting on the figures, Richard Harrow, BFFF chief executive said: “The performance of the frozen category remains very positive with continued growth ahead of total grocery. In all three sets of 12-week data supplied by Kantar this year, frozen value performance has been above both grocery and fresh and chilled in percentage terms.

“Not unexpectedly the latest figures reveal a slight decline in the massive sales growth in value and volume reported at the end of June. This is the result of shoppers adjusting their shopping habits as a result of an easing of lockdown restrictions.”

He added: “We know that since mid-March, more consumers than ever have been shopping in the frozen aisle. This is hardly surprising, given the long shelf-life, reduced food waste, value for money and variety of food on offer there. These latest figures indicate this may be a long-term trend.”

The Kantar figures also revealed long-term frozen sales are increasing. Data covering the 52 weeks from 9 September 2019 to 6 September 2020 showed sales of frozen food reached £6.9bn, an increase in value of 9.7%, and that volume grew to 8.4%. In comparison, sales of fresh and chilled food increased in value by 7%.

The Kantar figures showed eight out of nine categories of frozen food are in value and volume growth with six: ice cream, fish, vegetables, pizza, savoury and potato products in double digit value growth.

Harrow: “Whilst we have seen very strong growth in retail, the out of home sector is really suffering. Estimated figures from catering and hospitality specialist Peter Backman suggest annual sales for frozen in out of home in the last year are £1.6bn, down from £2.4bn in 2019.”

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