Frozen Food in the UK Is Riding the Wave

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The UK frozen foods market continues to perform encouragingly, reports Jonathan Thomas.

According to data from the British Frozen Foods Federation (BFFF), retail sales of frozen foods in the UK rose by over 4% to GBP6.32bn in the year ending December 2018. The total market (including sales via foodservice channels) during this time was worth GBP8.6bn, a figure expected to increase further to more than GBP10bn by 2025. Within the last year, ice cream was the most dynamic performer, with sales growing by almost 13%. This compares with nearly 6% for frozen pizza, over 4% for frozen fish and 3.4% for frozen potato products. Some of the leading sectors will now be examined in more detail.

Ready Meals & Convenience Foods

The UK has one of Western Europe’s largest and most well-developed markets for ready meals, with almost GBP1.6bn served every year. In recent years, however, the frozen sector has struggled, having lost share against its chilled counterpart. As is the case elsewhere in the world, the ready meals sector has come under increased pressure since foodservice outlets now cater towards a wider range of mealtimes occasions, having stepped up their offerings in areas such as breakfast and brunch. Another sector which may be encroaching on the territory held by ready meals are home delivery platforms, such as Deliveroo and Uber Eats.

One trend which appears to be gathering pace in the ready meals market is the continued growth in demand for products targeted at vegetarians, vegans and those looking to reduce their meat intake. There are now believed to be over half a million vegans in the UK, for example, up from around 150,000 people ten years ago. A recent survey by Eat Better concluded that most UK manufacturers and retailers were failing to take advantage of this trend. The research surveyed 1,350 own-label ready meals sold via 10 of the UK’s leading grocery retailers, later finding that meat was the dominant ingredient in 77% of these. Waitrose scored highest as far as vegetarian or plant-based options were concerned.

To read the complete article, please refer to our latest July-August 2019 print issue of Frozen Food Magazine Europe.

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