Frozen food growth slows as shopping habits return to normal

Frozen food sales remain buoyant despite consumers returning to pre-pandemic shopping habits, according to the latest Kantar data from the British Frozen Food Federation (BFFF).

The figures show that frozen sales are nearly £900m higher than the 52 weeks ended June 2019, with an additional 217 tonnes of volume since the pre-pandemic period.

However, the reopening of hospitality and shoppers reverting to smaller basket sizes and more frequent shopping trips, has resulted in frozen sales declining – a trend reflected across the whole of the grocery market.

Over the 12-weeks ended 5 September total grocery sales were down 2.7%, fresh and chilled sales were down 1.2%m and frozen fell by 3.6%. Across the nine frozen categories monitored seven remain in value and volume growth with meat and poultry and frozen vegetables seeing small value declines.

Richard Harrow, chief executive of the BFFF, said: “The latest figures are to be expected, as consumers start to eat out again and make more regular shopping trips. However, I suspect current supply chain issues and consumers stocking-up for Christmas earlier than normal will lead to an up-lift in frozen sales in November and December.”

He added: “Whilst the market is returning to normal, we are still seeing growth of shopper numbers across the total category and frozen has attracted over 400,000 more shoppers than in 2019. This latest Kantar data also shows that across six categories we have retained on average 50% of the additional shoppers gained in 2020.

“Frozen has always been recognised as a great value option, but value is now combined with innovation as companies work to develop high-quality frozen free-from products, sustainable packaging solutions and plant-based meals. We know people across all demographics are increasingly seeking out healthy and sustainable products, so options on offer in the frozen aisle will continue to attract new consumers.”