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Return to normal sees long-term frozen food growth slow

Frozen food sales remain buoyant despite consumers returning to pre-pandemic shopping habits, according to the latest 52-week Kantar data from the British Frozen Food Federation (BFFF).

The figures to 5 September 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, with the reopening of hospitality and shoppers reverting to smaller basket sizes and more frequent shopping trips, frozen sales have declined, 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% 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.

“Since 2019 the frozen category has seen value growth of +14.2% and volume growth of +10.4%. When compared to 2019 value growth of frozen is ahead of both total grocery (+13.1%) and fresh and chilled (+12.4) so the outlook remains positive.”

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 400k 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.”

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