Iceland brands on ice

Source: Iceland Foods

Iceland will invite brands to pitch NPD ideas at quarterly events

Iceland Foods has launched its first accelerator scheme for brands to develop exclusive products to be listed in its stores.

The scheme – called Brands on Ice – will enable challenger and established brands to pitch new innovation ideas to a team of Iceland buyers and executives.

If successful, the supermarket will then invest a minimum of £100,000 in helping to launch the new products, which will be stocked exclusively in its Iceland or Food Warehouse stores. Brands will also receive a wider programme of support including with manufacturing, branding and activation of the new lines.

Iceland already has an established and growing programme of exclusive licensing partnerships with brands including Harry Ramsden’s, TGI Fridays and Myprotein, which are manufactured and launched through its existing supply network.

“What’s different about Brands on Ice is whereas we would be talking to own-label suppliers about opportunities for our exclusive brands, we want to be talking to more branded suppliers about opportunities for their innovation,” said Oliver Gilding, Iceland Foods head of innovation and licensing.

Iceland is set to host the first of the now quarterly pitching days on 11 July. The intention is for each session to host at least six pitches, with brands given an answer on the day. If successful, Iceland aims for the first products to hit shelves early in 2025.

While a listing with Iceland would give brands potential access to over 1,000 stores across the Food Warehouse and Iceland network, the total rollout would depend on the capabilities of each specific brand, Gilding said.

Iceland would work closely with each to ensure that the launch was bespoke to the needs of each brand, he added.

Once launched, the product would remain exclusive to Iceland stores for an “agreed number of weeks”.

The length of each exclusivity partnership could vary brand to brand, Gilding said. 

“It’s a really unique scenario where every one of these launches will be bespoke.

“Exclusivity is going to be unbelievably important to us. It will really limit our ability to promote and support a certain product if it is available elsewhere within a couple of weeks.”

Over the past couple of years, Iceland has been investing heavily in expanding its proposition beyond its traditional frozen offer. By inviting submissions across categories including grocery and ambient, the launch marks a “first” for Iceland, Gilding said.

He also envisages it could attract international brands, for which trying to gain first entry to the UK market could be a “scary prospect”.

“We can move first on a lot of this innovation that is historically a bit too difficult and some retailers may have passed on. We are endeavouring to spend the time on finding this true innovation, to ultimately drive sales, but also to offer a point of difference for our customers as well,” Gilding said.