The return to favour of frozen foods is as much to do with sassy NPD as shoppers watching their purses, says James Ball

Is there gold in them there freezers? The frozen food category has been the darling of the recession.

This week the category broke through the £5bn sales milestone while frozen retailer Farmfoods grew sales 15% and profits a massive 83%.

It's tempting to say these successes are all down to recession. But to do that does the manufacturers a massive disservice - they've worked hard for their good fortune.

Frozen has consistently brought out bold, innovative new product development over the past year, whether it was salmon fish fingers, edge-to-edge pizza or the return of the Arctic Roll. Healthy sales growth shows the category is reaping the rewards of these NPD efforts.

But lest we get carried away, it must be noted inflation has given the figures an extra-healthy sheen.

Volumes are in growth - just - up 0.2% this year, reversing years of decline. And some categories are still shrinking - particularly frozen ready meals, where volumes fell 4.4%

Even behind the glitter, frozen's having a good year. But perhaps it's not quite time for a gold rush to the freezers just yet.

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