The frozen food sector experienced total growth of 0.5% for the 52 weeks to 8th September 2019, according to the latest Kantar statistics, with the frozen pizza category enjoying a particularly significant surge in sales – up an impressive 7% in value and 9% in volume.
This was flanked by a positive performance from frozen veg, which saw a 1.4% lift in volume and a 0.6% increase in value.
But the figures reveal a mixed picture elsewhere, with frozen meat and poultry experiencing a 9.9% drop in value and a 12% decline in volume, reflecting wider market trends.
Richard Harrow, chief executive of the British Frozen Food Federation, said: “Pizza and veg are two of our strongest success stories for the period and have helped buoy total sector growth of 0.5%.
“Although consumer appetite for meat-free and plant-based product is taking its toll on other categories, the powerful shift in consumer preference presents a huge opportunity for frozen and I’m confident the sector’s ability to innovate will enable it to rise to the challenge.”
Examples of successful meat-free frozen options include Iceland’s vegan range, which head chef Neil Nugent created following its headline-grabbing ‘bleeding’ No Bull burger last year.
The range, which incorporates ingredients like tofu and wheat-based protein, was designed to appeal to vegans, meat-eaters and those who want to consume more plant-based food without sacrificing taste or texture.
Meanwhile, Yorica UK Ltd is showcasing how frozen can fulfil the demand for vegan desserts with its Double Chocolate Cookie 14 Allergen Free Frozen Dessert, which was named ‘best new retail product’ in the BFFF Product Awards earlier this year.
Foodservice is also rising to the meat-free challenge. The ‘best new foodservice free-from, meat-free or vegetable-based product’ gold award went to Brakes for its Beetroot, Red Pepper and Quinoa Burger.
Harrow added: “Convenience and value will always be important factors in shopper decision-making but consumers are also becoming increasingly concerned with making healthy and environmentally-conscious choices.
“The frozen sector continues to demonstrate growth and the ongoing development of meat-free frozen options and innovative NPD is a great example of how it can take advantage of future trends to ensure it continues.
“Our members are leading the way in offering nutritious and affordable plant-based products, while simultaneously tackling food waste within the supply chain. I’m looking forward to seeing innovation at play more than ever among entries for our 2020 Product Awards, which are now open,” he concludes.