The frozen food aisles have traditionally been the least inviting part of the store. Tucked away at the back, they did little to entice shoppers away from chilled. Not any longer.
Thanks to a new generation of freezers and a total rethink of merchandising tactics, consumers are once more visiting the freezer cabinets.
"Retailers have invested in the infrastructure of frozen resulting in better display, merchandising and product availability at store level," says an FDF spokesman. "The result has been a marked improvement and, while there is still plenty of scope to improve further, some big strides have been made."
Evidence of frozen's revival can be seen in Iceland's figures. It is back on top form, showing strong growth rates and commanding 11.6% of the frozen foods market [TNS
52w/e 24 February 2008], compared with 10.6% last year.
Farm Foods, the regional specialist, is also performing well, according to TNS.
Aldi also manages to improve its desired status as a destination store thanks to its frozen fish products. The own-label The Fishmonger range includes 12 core and six seasonal lines.
Among the bigger players, Asda and Morrisons are overtrading, and account for 14.6% and 10.8% of the market respectively.
As consumers become more price-conscious the category is set to benefit further.
Asda has already benefited, increasing the proportion of its frozen products from 16% to 19%, says TNS's research director Edward Garner.
But more needs to be done to convince suppliers to invest in the category. NPD levels are still fairly low, with just under 3% of products on shelf in the past year being new.
Some brand owners feel they are being squeezed by the emphasis on own-label.
The market is split 50-50 between own label and branded products [BFF], which some say is stalling innovation.