After a stunning year of growth for frozen food, British based Specialty Food magazine looks into where the thriving sector will go from here, and whether premium ready meals can stage a comeback.
The rise of the home chef has been a boon for the fine food sector, but the growing appetite for scratch cooking doesn’t mean that convenience is off the menu. In fact, for key workers, those who have been challenged with juggling work and homeschooling, or those who want to limit their trips to the shops, a newfound desire has emerged for frozen fruit, vegetables and meals.
“During the pandemic, people wanted to reduce the number of times they visited shops, but they still wanted the reassurance that they would have good quality, convenient solutions to hand,” explains Matt Whelan, MD of Fieldfare. “The pandemic kick-started a change in behaviour, which made people visit the freezers. On finding the freezers, shoppers have found so much more than ice-cream and peas.
“Consumers, initially through necessity, started trying products that they may have normally bought fresh, opening their eyes to an assortment of great products from raw ingredients to prepared solutions and lovely treats,” he continues.
The resurgence of the freezer shows that time-pressed shoppers are looking for simple meals that don’t compromise on taste: an area where the fine frozen food industry excels. Demand for frozen fruits, vegetables and herbs is on the rise. The age-old stereotypes about frozen food are finally fading among young and health-conscious shoppers.
There is one area that has fared as well as the rest of the frozen and chilled food market over the past year: ready meals.
When it comes to packaging, the industry is making moves forward with compostable options and more recyclable alternatives that can fulfill the role that plastic currently does.