The closure of Unilever’s Birds Eye factory in Grimsby should not be seen as evidence that frozen food is in terminal decline, the British Frozen Food Federation has insisted.

Speaking after Unilever announced plans to close its Grimsby frozen food plant with the loss of 600 jobs, BFFF director general Alf Carr said it would be wrong to see the move as proof that frozen food was in real trouble.

Recent TNS data showed that the market was growing very slightly in value, while retailers like Morrisons were seeing double digit growth in the category, he said.

“Birds Eye has a unique but weak position in the marketplace. A brand has to be very powerful when it is having to compete against lower priced own label products in a very competitive market and I’m not sure that that is always the case in some of the product categories that Birds Eye operates in.

“Other companies are performing well in a difficult market.”

Production at the plant will be outsourced to third parties at larger more efficient facilities, said the company, claiming talks with a buyer for the site had fallen through.

Analysts said the move came as no surprise and anticipated that Unilever’s Lowestoft factory could well be next on the closure list, despite being safe in the short term.