The sector has seen a raft of premium launches intent on adding value.

Global potato manufacturer Lamb Weston has launched a range of premium frozen potatoes. Rival McCain has added 'world' flavours to its wedges, while Waitrose unveiled a 50-strong line of frozen ingredients as part of its Cooks' Ingredients range.

Meanwhile, ice cream dessert Viennetta has started making a premium variant containing layers of caramel on a biscuit base and Farmhouse Fare has extended into premium frozen puddings with Luxury Sticky Toffee and Luxury Sticky Chocolate. Start-ups in particular have been keen to get retailers to re-evaluate frozen.

Sauce Kitchen entered the market in early May, with seven products including Patrick's Irish Stout & Mushroom and Libby's Lovely Tomato & Oregano (rsp: £3 per box of four servings, currently listed in Waitrose).

"A general perception among some retailers was that freezer shoppers were just looking for £1 ready meals, chips and a tub of ice cream. We disagree," says co-founder Patrick Limpus. "Supermarket shopping is a sensory retail experience. There's lots of tasty-looking food on offer, but in most cases the freezer aisles have been neglected and become the dungeon of savoury food retail, with only a few exceptions such as chopped frozen herbs and vegetables, roasted vegetables and Yorkshire puddings."

Dr Oetker has achieved success with its most expensive pizza, Chicago Town Takeaway (rsp: £3.50), by comparing it with high-street takeaway brands such as Pizza Hut and Domino's, costing about £9. As BFFF director general Brian Young says, premium products enhance the image of the whole category.

"Aldi used celebrity chef Phil Vickery to promote sea bass, and Iceland promoted langoustine, crab and lobster. This is all good news for frozen food and we need more promotion of premium foods, despite the difficult economic environment." It's still a hard slog to sell premium to retailers who always have the end customer in mind.

"We are all desperately wanting to add value by pushing a premium proposition but the average person doesn't pick them up and, although premium products have received huge plaudits from the industry, when it boils down to it the customer is not buying," says Spar trading controller Robert Neal.

Focus On Frozen Food