Revealed: one in three say frozen food is inferior to fresh

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This article is part of our Frozen Foods Feature 2015

Frozen food has an image problem. One in three (32%) Brits believe it is inferior to fresh food, with 43% saying nothing would induce them to buy more frozen.

Of those who say frozen is inferior, 57% cite concerns about quality, 33% say they prefer to cook from scratch and 17% say the memory of the 2013 horsemeat scandal deters them.

“Stores and frozen food brands need to do more to combat these negative perceptions,” says Lucia Juliano, head of fmcg & retail research at Harris Interactive, which polled 2,000 shoppers on behalf of The Grocer.

“That’s not only in terms of quality messages, but also in terms of in store display and ambience. We see up to 10% of people complaining the range of frozen food is limited or that there are no good brands to choose from. And 9% complain that the display is unwelcoming.”

Snobbery is rife, suggests the poll. Thirty per cent of Brits agree with the statement ‘frozen food is not for people like me’. Consumers in the south west (40%) and London (37%) are most likely to turn their noses up at it and the Welsh are least likely, with 22% agreeing with the statement.

It’s not all bad news, however. The research suggests a number of developments that could help grow the British frozen food market. Twenty nine per cent say if premium puddings that are difficult to cook from scratch were available in the freezers they would buy more frozen food. Diet specific offerings and patisserie style products also scored highly.

Forward to: Undercover shoppers

What’s your opinion of frozen food in general?        
Better than fresh food8%10%6%13%11%8%6%6%
About on a par with fresh food60%55%65%51%49%64%66%64%
Worse than fresh food32%34%29%37%39%28%28%30%
If better, why?        
Frozen food is fresher50%47%54%30%24%63%63%72%
More convenient47%37%65%44%36%59%52%48%
Avoids food wastage46%41%55%35%24%67%38%64%
Freezing preserves nutritional value better45%39%56%-27%56%68%76%
Better value for money43%34%57%53%16%66%37%45%
Higher quality29%30%28%14%44%25%32%28%
If worse, why?        
Lower quality57%57%56%75%68%64%60%38%
Not much choice of products10%11%9%10%12%10%17%6%
The food I like to eat isn’t available frozen12%9%15%12%8%9%16%15%
The way it is displayed in store is unwelcoming9%11%6%10%7%4%12%10%
The freezer section of the store is too cold6%5%7%6%8%5%5%6%
Frozen food is dodgy.. look at the horsemeat scandal!17%17%17%20%12%19%7%23%
The labelling on frozen food isn’t very good/clear7%8%7%6%8%5%7%9%
Frozen food packaging is often damaged or frosted over13%13%12%9%7%6%15%20%
Lack of decent brands to choose from8%7%9%11%4%4%11%9%
The food is too cheap… I’d be embarrassed to serve it in my home!5%7%3%4%4%7%5%6%
Frozen food is old fashioned5%7%3%3%9%5%6%3%
I’m a scratch cook!33%25%41%22%24%34%33%42%
Frozen food is heavy and inconvenient to take home10%12%8%2%3%12%15%14%
Which of these statements do you most agree with?           
 TotalScotlandNorth EastNorth WestYorkshireMidlandsWalesSouth WestEast of EnglandLondonSoutheast
Frozen food is for people like me and my family70%73%72%72%71%76%78%60%72%63%68%
Frozen food is for other people, it’s not really my thing30%27%28%28%29%24%22%40%28%37%32%
Which of the following premium product developments would encourage you to buy more frozen food?        
Complicated, patisserie style products17%14%19%25%13%19%14%15%
Exotic meat such as ostrich, kangaroo, buffalo, boar, etc12%13%11%10%14%15%13%9%
Unusual fruit and veg such as Jerusalem artichokes, kohlrabi, spaghetti squash, cloud berries, baobab, acai, etc15%13%17%22%19%16%11%13%
Complicated puddings that you couldn’t cook yourself29%24%34%38%35%30%25%25%
Premium meat such as Wagyu, Aberdeen Angus, Muntjac, grouse etc16%19%14%18%18%17%18%14%
High quality, diet specific ready meals, such as vegan, gluten free, lactose free, high protein, etc21%19%22%44%32%19%13%12%
Nothing would encourage me to buy more frozen food43%45%41%24%26%43%50%54%




About Harris Interactive UK

Harris Interactive UK is a full service, consultative custom market research agency working internationally out of offices in the UK and Europe. With in-house expertise covering all areas of research design, implementation, analysis and reporting, it has particular strengths in loyalty and brand. For more information, please visit the Harris Interactive UK website.

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