Birds Eye 12 Green Cuisine Fishless Fingers 336g

A raft of NPD in its Green Cuisine range helped Birds Eye outperform the frozen market in 2021

Revenues at Birds Eye fell for the first time in four years as demand for frozen food dropped from pandemic-driven highs. However, the business remained well ahead of pre-Covid levels in 2021.

Newly filed accounts at Companies House showed sales in the year ended 31 December 2021 declined 3.9% – or by £28.3m – to £704.4m.

It is a big jump on the £486.1m generated in 2019 before the pandemic gains, and ahead of the integration of the Aunt Bessie’s and Goodfella’s brands acquired by parent Nomad Foods.

The frozen market enjoyed a bumper year in 2020 as shoppers stocked up freezers during lockdown, with an extra £1bn in value added [Kantar 52 w/e 27 December 2020], according to category reports in The Grocer.

Despite a slowdown in 2021, Birds Eye said it still outperformed the market, which as a whole was worth about £800m more than before the pandemic [Kantar 52 w/e 26 December 2021].

A raft of innovation in its plant-based Green Cuisine range helped Birds Eye in 2021, as well as “significant” distribution gains and recovery in foodservice and convenience sectors.

Pre-tax profits at the group nudged up by £2m to £106.7m, but Birds Eye warned in the accounts it would have to increase prices to cope with inflation of raw materials, energy, packaging, freight and logistics.

“With the potential for recession resulting from this increase in the cost of living, we are well placed within the packaging frozen food sector to be resilient to these impacts as consumers seek value and ways to manage their household budgets,” the accounts said.

Last week, owner Nomad Foods reported a 27% jump in third-quarter revenues to €760m (£668.4m), with an organic rise of 7.2% thanks to a 10.6% rise in prices.