For the first time in 2023, frozen food volume sales have declined, according to new Kantar data from the British Frozen Food Federation (BFFF). Figures for the 12 weeks to the 3rd of September show that volume declined by 1.2 percent (5,943,000 tonnes) compared to last year.
This data, covering the months of June, July and August, follows market trends seen in previous years. Frozen food sales typically drop during the summer months. This year, the UK saw six percent more sunshine than average in the summer season and was 0.8°C warmer than previous years, the 8th warmest summer on record. As a result, sales of foods such as ready meals and meat and poultry declined by 1.7 percent and 2.5 percent, respectively.
The fresh and chilled market has also seen volume sales decline more than frozen food. In the 12 weeks to the 3rd of September, fresh and chilled sales dropped by 2.4 percent (136,870,000 tonnes) compared to last year. This comes as shoppers swap pricier fresh foods for more budget-friendly options during the cost of living crisis.
However, it’s not all bad news. There are some encouraging figures which show that not all frozen categories have seen demand drop. Frozen fish, for example, has seen volume grow by 3.2 percent and vegetables by an impressive 5.3 percent. This is likely associated with consumers becoming increasingly more health conscious.
The value of frozen food sales remains in growth, up 12.5 percent (£218,423,000) in the 12 weeks to the 3rd of September, compared to the same period last year. This continues to be, for the most part, a reflection of inflation affecting the entire food industry. While inflation did slow down to 13.6 percent in August and further to 12.2 percent in September, food prices remain high and are continuing to strain household budgets.
“We have seen for the first time this year that volume sales of frozen food have suffered a modest decline. Historical trends do show a seasonal wane in frozen food sales, so we expect volume to pick up again during the next quarter. The Christmas season is fast approaching, and frozen food is ideal for buffets and sharing boards at festive parties,” said Rupert Ashby, chief executive of the British Frozen Food Federation.
Ashby continued that as economic challenges continue to strain household budgets, frozen food can offer great value for money without compromising quality, taste or nutritional value.