David Stokes, Senior Trading Controller, Nisafreeze
In a market that has shown no real volume or value growth for three or four years, the actions of Unilever to raise the profile of the frozen sector should be praised.
However, this is being undermined by the amount of buy-one-get-on-free promotional activity. The move to produce more healthy products with no additives and lower salt levels is good, but then to allow more lower pricing and bogofs gives out the wrong signals to the consumer.
Ice cream has been the major success in the Nisafreeze business over the past 12 months, with value and volume growth above market figures. As long as promotions of all the ranges cover the 12 months, we will go into the summer with healthy growth already in the first quarter.
Fresh and chilled products continue to dominate the organic sector of the market.
Sarah Burch, Category marketing manager, frozen, the Co-operative Group
The poor perception of frozen continues to be one of the biggest challenges faced by those operating across the category.
As key manufacturers focus on communicating the health and quality aspects of their branded lines to consumers, retailers are launching premium own-label products across a number of sectors such as ice cream, confectionery, fish and value-added meat products to promote the quality of frozen and inject growth into the area.
In some sectors, such as pizza, value has been driven out of the market by deep discounting and multibuy offers.
The Co-op will continue with its ‘high-low’ strategy in the pizza category as we outperform the market. Latest figures show a 1.1% increase in value and a 4% increase in volume sales.
Miki Handzar, Trading Manager, frozen food buyer, Budgens
Despite a very deep household penetration, frozen manufacturing has concentrated on a ‘traditional consumer’ and lost the dynamics to faster-moving categories such as chilled. If you are to add relatively expensive equipment into the equation, which has shrunk in size in favour of other categories over the years, then the current category position profile is logical and understandable.
The consumer perception of frozen is that it’s cheap and cheerful. A long haul of reversing this perception through effective category support is already under way by Birds Eye, Schwan’s and Dr Oetker. Companies need to work more closely with retailers to implement changes, as a part of the problem is poor ranging and implementation in many retail businesses.
Availability remains a problem for frozen.