This article is part of our Frozen digital feature.

Brits have eaten frozen food on 220.8 million fewer occasions over the past year, a decline of 2.3% [Kantar 52 w/e 6 December 2015].

Frozen meat experienced the largest decline, appearing at 12.3% fewer occasions, followed by frozen fish, which was down 4.5%.

“One of the core reasons for the decrease in frozen food occasions is the lack of attraction the frozen aisles present to shoppers and the general lack of awareness consumers have of the benefits of freezing,” says Steve Chantry, Birds Eye marketing director. “However we believe there is a great opportunity to be more innovative and effective.”

In-store activity plays a big role in increasing usage occasions, believes McCain category controller Naomi Tinkler, who believes shoppers are driven to the aisles as a result. “There’s a real emphasis on presentation now,” she says. “There are a number of simple ways to make your frozen section easy and engaging for shoppers – for example exploiting obvious merchandising adjacencies, such as putting roast potatoes next to Yorkshire puddings.”

Simple promotions or themed events such as Back to School to highlight kids’ tea solutions or fish, chip & peas deals could also go a long way, she believes.

Taking advantage of events – big and small – is key to driving occasions for pizza. “To increase usage occasions for frozen food, it’s important products are linked as the choice to enjoy for big nights in,” says a spokeswoman for Dr Oetker, which owns Chicago Town pizza.

“Big events are also key to significant value growth within the category. Take the World Cup, for example, where the category enjoyed significant growth, much of which was driven by Chicago Town Pizzas, especially the Chicago Town Takeaway limited-edition pizza BBQ Sizzler, which had World Cup-themed packaging.”

NPD to meet consumer needs is important. “We are seeing the potential for shoppers to move back to the frozen aisles for the right innovation, including younger consumers,” says Yvonne Adam, Young’s Seafood marketing director, noting that its Funky Fish range demonstrates this.

And, with the growth of free-from across grocery, it’s ripe for further expansion with convenient options in the freezer. “Driving awareness of frozen free-from is a key component to unlocking future growth,” says Dave Shaw, Genius commercial director. “Free-from consumers are increasingly looking for quick meal solutions, but over a fifth of consumers are unaware that a frozen free-from category exists.”

Frozen dessert brand Almondy is also tapping into this. “The fact that Almondy’s desserts are gluten-free, is a huge opportunity with massive potential for more growth,” says UK MD Andrew Ely. “However, collectively we in the frozen food sector need to work together to educate consumers to rid them of the ill-informed perceptions that all frozen food is of poor quality and unhealthy.”

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