The Frozen Renaissance: Analysing the Surge in the UK's Frozen Food Industry


The frozen food industry in the United Kingdom has experienced a remarkable resurgence, marked by substantial growth in both value and volume. Recent data from Kantar reveals a year-on-year increase in the value of the frozen food market by 15.6%, amounting to £1,131,220,000, and a modest volume growth of 0.4%, totalling 9,398,000 tonnes. Demand for frozen foods has been driven by various factors, including economic pressures, health consciousness, and a shift in consumer preferences. In this article, we delve into the trends and statistics shaping the success of the frozen food and frozen ready meal category in the UK.

Consumer Behaviour and Economic Pressures:
The British Frozen Food Federation (BFFF) points to the demand for “great value for money products” as a critical growth driver. Consumers’ need to tighten their belts due to cost-of-living pressures has increased their preference for economical frozen options. This trend is reflected in the statistics, with frozen potato products witnessing a robust volume growth of 4.6%, pizza experiencing a 1.6% increase, and savoury food surging by 5.1% in the 52 weeks to 26th November.

Health Consciousness and Changing Preferences:
As consumers become more health-conscious, there has been a positive shift in the consumption of frozen vegetables, which saw a 0.7% increase in volume sales. The data indicates a growing awareness among consumers regarding the nutritional benefits of frozen vegetables. On the flip side, frozen ready meals and fish experienced slight declines of 0.9% and 0.8%, respectively. Despite this, frozen fish exhibited resilience by “bucking the trend”, with a notable 1.8% year-on-year increase in volume over the 12 weeks.

Ice-Cream and Comfort Food Craze:
Ice cream emerged as a star performer, witnessing a significant 10% growth in sales during the 12 weeks to 26th November 2023. The BFFF attributes this surge to impressive innovations in the ice cream category and consumers opting for cosy nights in over extravagant nights out. The demand for indulgent frozen treats during the autumn and winter seasons has fuelled the growth of this segment.

Contrasting Trends: Decline in Frozen Confectionery and Meat/Poultry:
While specific segments of the frozen food industry are thriving, frozen confectionery and desserts experienced a decline of 4.8% in volume. This dip is attributed to budget-conscious shoppers cutting down on nonessential items like sweet treats in 2023.
In the meat and poultry category, which performed well earlier in the year, there was a substantial drop of 17.5% in volume sales from 12 weeks to 26th November 2023. The BFFF suggests that the surge in the cost of meat played a pivotal role in this decline, prompting consumers to purchase less. Additionally, the rising popularity of vegan and vegetarian diets contributes to the downturn in this traditionally strong category.

The frozen food industry in the UK has witnessed a remarkable revival, propelled by economic pressures, health consciousness, and changing consumer preferences. The Kantar data highlights the resilience and adaptability of the frozen food sector, with various categories experiencing significant growth. The industry is poised for continued success as consumers continue to seek value for money, healthier alternatives, and innovative frozen options. The frozen food renaissance is not merely a temporary trend but a reflection of the evolving landscape of consumer choices and the dynamic nature of the food industry.

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