Frozen foods are back: value and volume both grew in 2007, bucking several years of decline. Value growth may be due to price increases prompted by rising market prices, while there has also been further premiumisation within parts of the market. But the fact that volume is up shows people are returning to frozen food.
In the past year, frozen foods accounted for 8% of all retail food sales. Shoppers are, on average, buying from the category almost every week, purchasing 45 times a year. The average shopper spends £190 a year on frozen food, parting with, on average, £4.21 per trip.
Their return to the freezer cabinets is largely thanks to the PR job manufacturers have done: many more consumers now recognise the health appeal of frozen food. The fact there are fewer promotions has also helped, with shoppers finding other reasons to buy frozen food - taste or quality, for instance.
The market is slightly biased towards younger, larger family households.
However, interest from other demographics remains, and in some cases is growing.
In the latest year the 55+ age groups have been driving growth in the market, while more than 50% of actual spend still comes from households with one or two people.
These smaller, younger households are being led to frozen by celebrity chefs proffering quick, easy, healthy meals.
Frozen fish and poultry are the fastest-growing categories with sales up more than 11% for each.
Sales of frozen vegetables are also strong, rising 5.5% to £367m.
Pizzas and vegetarian products are showing similar plus-5% growth, with sales of £346m and £121m respectively.
Though still in decline, ready meals still command the second-largest share of the market [13.3%], behind fish [14%], with sales in excess of £620m. Ice cream takes bronze with a market share of [13%], albeit down from 13.7% the previous year.
Among the grocers, market share is dominated by the specialists, with Farm Foods and Iceland performing strongly. However, Morrisons and Asda slightly overtrade.
Nathan Ward, TNS Worldpanel