Sales of frozen food in the UK has continued to surge as the sector outperforms fresh and chilled, new data has shown.
According to the latest statistics from Kantar and the British Frozen Food Federation (BFFF), sales of frozen food increased by £285 million in the last three months as the UK was in lockdown.
The growth in sales is currently double the increase in value experienced in the previous 12-week period to 22 March, revealing frozen food is becoming increasingly popular with shoppers.
Frozen sales increased in value by 19.4% and volume was up 17.5% in the period from the end of March to 14 June. In the previous 12-week period the value growth was 9.7% and volume 9.3%
The recent 12-week data also reveals frozen outperformed the total grocery market as well as fresh and chilled food sales in both value and volume.
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.
In addition to the recent boost, the Kantar figures also reveal that long-term frozen sales are increasing. Data covering the 52 weeks from 16 June 2019 to 14 June 2020 shows that sales of frozen food reached £6.7bn, an increase in value of 6.1%, and that volume grew to 5.4%. In comparison sales of fresh and chilled food increased in value by 5%.
The Kantar figures show six out of nine categories of frozen food have seen a sales and volume increase over the last year, with frozen veg up 9.4% in volume and frozen pizza up 9.5% in volume.
Ice cream and frozen fish sales also performed impressively, up in value by 8.9% and 8.8% respectively. Only confectionery, meat & poultry, and frozen ready meals saw small declines over 52 weeks.
These findings are supported by recently released research commissioned by BFFF members Iceland and Birds Eye, that suggests the frozen revival is here to stay. The study shows ‘value for money’ is just one of the reasons people will continue to fill their freezers post-coronavirus.
The study included insights into how buying habits have changed, with Generation Z driving sales through a newly-discovered appreciation of the benefits of frozen.
More than a quarter (26%) of 18-24-year-olds are buying more frozen equivalents of their regular fresh items while 40% have been stocking up on healthy frozen options including frozen vegetables, fruit, meat and fish. Almost a third (31%) are trying new frozen foods such as meat substitutes, says the report.
“Individual retailers have reported a huge surge in frozen sales during lockdown. What’s really encouraging is that quality and innovation is attracting new younger consumers to the category as well as exciting our traditional shoppers,” said BFFF Chief Executive Richard Harrow.
“We are seeing lots of shoppers visiting our website for information on how to defrost, how long to keep frozen food and to find out if they can refreeze food that’s been defrosted. There are also plenty of people seeking inspiration from the recipe section. This all points to ongoing success for the frozen sector.”
He added: “This data is incredibly welcome news. Now that many more consumers have discovered the benefits of frozen food, further innovation and creativity will ensure frozen continues to be a key part of their shopping repertoire.”