Since the next edition of Wabel’s Frozen Summit is coming up soon, we asked the organization’s co-founder and managing director, Antoine Bonnel, to provide our readers with information and highlights of the event, which is coming up March 26-27 in Paris.
Please describe this year’s concept for the Frozen Food Summit
This year, the Frozen Food Summit has enlarged the venue of both retailers and manufacturers worldwide. Wabel has developed its activity in China in partnership with the CCFA (Chinese Chain and Franchise Association) by organizing its Wabel China Summit in Shanghai. And as Frozen food categories are increasing categories in China this year, we will welcome numerous Chinese retailers at the Frozen Summit end of March in Paris. Wabel has also been quite active in the USA market and has set up partnership with major retailers there such as Wal Mart, Whole Foods, Amazon, Top Co, etc. These retailers are keen to import more European “GMO free” frozen food. Whole Foods is of course highly interested in the European organic frozen food offer.
The other new feature of the Frozen Summit is the increasingly important participation of major Food Service Companies. This year for example, Bidcorp the European head organization of Bidfood, the N°1 European Food Service distributor and World’s N°3, will organize its European annual strategic Meeting during the Frozen Summit. Buyers from Bidfood UK, Germany, Netherlands, Poland, Czech Rep… will then have meetings with the frozen suppliers of the Summit.
What are the highlights that people in the industry should be most interested in, during the event?
The studies we made show that Millennials should contribute to growth of frozen food in Europe. The Millennials will represent in 2020 the largest group of consumers in Europe and studies show that 43% of Millennials shop frozen more frequently.
- 30% are willing to pay more for healthy products
- 40% indicate that products from sustainable agriculture are very important in their purchase decision
- 61% are delivered from time to time or regularly
- 37% are members of a digital food brand community worldwide
- 50% share photos of dishes on social networks in the World.
From frozen desserts to appetizers and meals, the frozen section in western supermarkets has the ability to be a one-stop shop for on-the-go consumers. In fact, 26% of total European western grocery shoppers are shopping in the frozen foods department more frequently than last year, and it’s being led by Millennials and households with children.
What are some of the new participants at this year’s Summit and how do you explain their interest in attending?
Among the new participants, we can count the following: Atelier du pain (Be): bakery, La Savoureuse (Fr): Bakery, Stockson (PL): Bakery, Campus Italy : Vegan ready meals, Ojah (NL): Vegan/ Meat substitutes, Bofood (SE): Vegan Ice cream, Lazy Vegan (NL): Vegan ready meal, Frescolat (IT): vegan ice cream, Elvida Foods (GR): Alternative to meat, Gias (IT): Vegan ready meals, D’Arta (BE): vegetables, Dolceria Alba (IT): Desserts, Vancovienno (BE): Dessert, Stifen (TU): Fruits, Globalimar (ES): Fish and Seafood, Sole Mio (FR): Pizza, Wauw (DK) : Ice cream, F’Real: Frozen Smoothies
Their interest to participate is to respond to buyers and market’s needs (Vegan products), showcase their Innovative products and participate to the largest multi category BtoB event dedicated to the Frozen industry. Moreover, the Frozen Summit is becoming stronger on the Bakery Section with the attendance of market leaders (Lantmannen, Europastry) and new players.
Please describe the frozen food private label universe at present, from your experience as a keen observant of this industry.
We see 4 main developments this year in France and Europe: premiumization of the global frozen food categories, development of specialized frozen vegan, organic and free from ranges, skin packaging concepts are getting popular (Picard) giving the appearance of chilled food, development of bulk vegetables, nicely displayed (Kaufland Romania, for example)
What are some of the challenges that still remain on this segment?
Frozen food is certainly its own umbrella category, but its versatility allows it to span multiple mealtime occasions, which is why there has been a lot of room for growth and innovation across items in Private Label as well as brands. Competition in the category is heating up, as fast-paced Millennials, who often take greater interest in the health benefits of food than older generations, look to frozen as a way to eat well in a convenient and hassle-free manner.
What are buyers most interested in, when they are approached by manufacturers of frozen food private labels?
Most of buyers are looking for direct contact with manufacturers (no intermediary), clean labels and ISF certified. Every retailer working with Wabel has then its own requirements, size of the company, black listed ingredients etc. we share these information with the suppliers through the Wabel Platform.
Similarly, how can you comment on the reactions you may have observed on the part of producers of private labels frozen foods?
Manufacturers are keen to get as many information as possible on the specific requirements of the retailers they are going to meet at the Frozen Summit. That is why Wabel organizes every week, Retail webinars allowing direct exchange between the manufacturers and the buyers.