With Covid-19 and Brexit combining to create a perfect storm of challenges over the past 12 months, it’s not been an easy year for British food and drink brands.

But some have still managed to impress consumers, according to YouGov’s 2021 UK Fmcg Rankings. From Cathedral City to Heinz Tomato Ketchup, here are the top 10 brands across the fresh and frozen, ambient and snack food categories.

YouGov’s 2021 UK Fmcg Rankings are based on its BrandIndex score, which measures the public’s perception of brands across various metrics. The overall scores were calculated by taking the average of impression, quality, value, satisfaction, recommend and reputation scores over the 12 months from August 2020 to July 2021.

Topping the chilled and frozen food category was Cathedral City, which had the highest index score of all fmcg brands at 37.1. ”This is largely driven by the brand’s high impression score (46.2), as well as its quality perception (46.2) and customer satisfaction (45.8),” said YouGov.

Demand for Cathedral City was so high during the first lockdown that owner Saputo Dairy UK was forced to temporarily withdraw the extra mature variant from shelves. Having enjoyed a 13.6% surge in sales to £309.0m across the 52 weeks to 26 December 2020, the brand ranked 24th in The Grocer’s Britain’s Biggest Brands survey.

In January 2021 Cathedral City, which sources all of its milk from the south west of England, was given a packaging revamp with new designs highlighting its royal warrant and ‘100% British milk’ claim. It also capitalised on the popularity of its extra mature variant with the launch of a new ‘mini’ snacking SKU and a grated SKU

Cathedral City Extra Mature - TV ad pack shot (1)

Cathedral City enjoyed a surge in sales during 2020 and has since capitalised on its success 

Birds Eye came in second place among chilled and frozen food brands in YouGov’s rankings with a score of 34, while Lurpak came in third with a score of 31. Both brands have invested in NPD over the past 12 months, with Nomad-owned Birds Eye launching a Lightly Dusted pollock duo and a ‘restaurant-quality’ chicken breast duo, while Arla-owned Lurpak unveiled a lower-fat block butter.

They “both scored highly for customer satisfaction, impression and quality perception”, said YouGov, “but Birds Eye was also perceived to be good value for money (28.4)”. 

In total, seven of the top 10 chilled and frozen food brands were dairy brands. Müller (25.3) was in fourth place, while Anchor butter was sixth (21.2), cheese brand Pilgrims Choice seventh (20.9), margarine brand Flora eighth (18.7) and the Seriously Strong cheese brand 10th (17.5).

Household staple Heinz Tomato Ketchup took the top spot in YouGov’s dried ambient food rankings, with an index score of 36.5. Stablemate Heinz Beanz, meanwhile, came in at number four with a score of 32.6. 

Heinz was fifth in The Grocer’s Britain’s Biggest Brand rankings, hitting sales worth £761.1m in the 52 w/e 26 December 2020 after benefiting from stockpiling during last year’s lockdowns. Beanz and Ketchup alone added £72.5m in total across grocery.

Brand owner Kraft Heinz has invested heavily in innovation over the past year, with a swathe of brand extensions for the Heinz Beanz brand including on-the-go Protein Pots in Janury 2021. It also launched a new DTC platform, which it used to sell limited-edition tins of beans created in collaboration with rock band The Who, and recently made its debut on eBay.


Heinz Beanz and Weetabix remain firm family favourites - although the jury is out on eating them together

Weetabix, which enjoyed a sales surge after its social media post with Heinz Beanz went viral earlier this year, took second place with a score of 35.3, while fellow breakfast brand Quaker (26.6) came in 10th.

Yorkshire Tea, which was thrust under the social media spotlight last year, took third place with 34.3, while Twinings took seventh (28.3) place - suggesting Britain remains “a nation of tea lovers”, said YouGov.

Elsewhere, condiments continued their success, with Hellmann’s in fifth (29.9), Branston Pickle in sixth (28.6) and HP Sauce in eighth (28.1).

When it comes to snacks, Walkers crisps holds the top place in consumers’ hearts, with a score of of 32.4. The brand showed its support for local restaurants this summer with four-limited edition flavours. Madras Curry, Thai Green Curry, Fish & Chips and Chicken Burrito featured an on-pack promotion offering a £5 discount at over 3,000 participating outlets.

Walkers has also looked to improve its climate credentials over the past 12 months with innovative carbon capture technology that uses potato peelings and CO2 captured from an unnamed brewing partner to create a low-carbon fertiliser.

The brand scored highly in The Grocer’s Britain’s Biggest Brands ranking, having generated sales worth £1,050.8m in the 52 w/e 26 December 2020, which was up 5.7% on the previous year. Its latest ads feature popular People Just Do Nothing actor Asim Chaudhry.

Walkers Ad - Asim Chaudhry

People Just Do Nothing actor Asim Chaudhry stars in Walker’s latest ads

Fellow crisp brands Kettle Chips and Pringles came in at fourth (28.4) and fifth (25.0) respectively in YouGov’s snack food rankings, while Mini Cheddars were ranked seventh (24.1) just ahead of Jacob’s (23.9).

Britons’ much-loved cake and biscuit brands also scored highly, with McVitie’s in second (32.2), followed by Jaffa Cakes in third (29.5) and Mr Kipling in sixth place (24.3). “All three brands are historic British brands founded between 1830 and 1967,” noted YouGov.

Ice cream brands also made an appearance in the top 10 snack food brands, with Häagen-Dazs in ninth (23.7) and Ben & Jerry’s in 10th (23.2).