Frozen Vegetables: A Category with High Growth Potential

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In the long term, the European market for frozen vegetables is expected to show stable growth of 1-3% annually. This growth is likely to be driven by changes in the consumption patterns of European consumers, including ‘ready to eat’ or ‘easy to prepare’ meals and the replacement of food of animal origin with vegetable alternatives. Especially Germany, France, Belgium, the United Kingdom, Italy and the Netherlands offer opportunities for developing country suppliers.

Europe Leads

Europe is by far the world’s largest importer of frozen vegetables, accounting for around half of global imports. European imports of frozen vegetables have increased annually by an average of 3% in volume in the period of 2018-2020. The largest share of imports is intra-European trade, while only 11% of imports come from developing countries. Statistics show that in the next five years, the European market for frozen vegetables is likely to increase with an annual growth rate of 2-4%.

The main reason for the expected market growth is the convenience in eating and increasing consumption of ready-to-eat frozen food. Also, consumption of vegetables (including frozen) is increasing due to the popularization of vegan and vegetarian food across Europe. Regular fluctuations in imports will continue to be influenced by harvested crop volumes and accessory price developments, rather than changes in demand. Between 2018 and 2020, European imports of frozen vegetables grew an average of 4% in volume and 3% in quantity every year, to a value of EUR3.3bn and a quantity of 3.4 million tons in 2020. Higher growth in value than in volume indicates a slight increase in import prices over the last five years. However, the prices of frozen vegetables are expected to remain stable in the medium to long term. The European Union financially supports local farmers with various subsidies, which is thought to have a stabilizing impact on prices. Internal European trade accounts for 92% of all imports and imports from developing countries for the remaining 8%.

Europe is the largest producer of frozen vegetables in the world, which explains the large share of internal trade in total imports. European imports from developing countries increased by 3.2% in quantity over the last 5 years, reaching 275 thousand tons in 2020. The total European production of frozen vegetables was estimated to have reached nearly 6 million tons in 2020.

Belgium is the largest producer of frozen vegetables in Europe, accounting for 27% of total European production. Production in Belgium is centered around the South and West of Flanders, and around 90% of production is exported. Spain is ranked second and Poland is the third-largest producer in Europe. However, some data rank Poland as the second-largest European producer before Spain. Over the last five years, consumption increased by an average annual growth rate of 4%. France, Germany, Belgium, Spain, the United Kingdom, and Italy are the largest markets. In 2020, European consumption has reached 4.7 million tons. Easy preparation of frozen vegetables, which are perceived as healthy food, is the main driver of increased consumption in Europe.

To read the entire article, please access your complimentary e-copy of Frozen Food Europe March-April, 2021 issue here.

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