Frozen food market is in excellent health

Brian Young Director general, British Frozen Food Federation Sir; Despite last week's sad news about the closure of Patak's frozen factory in Dundee, and that Gü has axed its frozen desserts range, the UK frozen food market is in excellent shape ('Poor sales lead to axe for Gü frozen desserts', The Grocer, 2 February, p11). In fact, the market continues to grow faster, with latest data from TNS showing year-on-year value growth of 3.6% for the year to 2 December 2007. The ice cream sector is declining as a result of last year's poor summer weather and ready meals sales have recently stabilised after a poor year last year. However, other categories are showing superb growth. The star of the show is undoubtedly fish, with a 9.6% value growth and 5.9% volume growth over past year. The fastest volume growth recorded year-on-year was in pizzas at 6.7%, with a healthy value growth of 4.2%. The potato products sector continues to enjoy significant value growth, driven by McCain's heavyweight activity and innovative product launches. This sector is growing by 9.3% in value, while price inflation - as a result of the poor crops last year - is running at 10.5%, which is lower than the figure recorded last quarter. Perhaps the most amazing turnaround story is in the meat and poultry sector, which a year ago was suffering a 3.9% value decline and a 4.8% volume decline. Remarkably, volume is now growing significantly at 3.4% year-on-year and value is up by 9.1%. The frozen food market has now enjoyed six consecutive quarters of annual year-on-year growth, with every quarter improving on the previous one. Some would argue it is in good health.