Frozen food could save average UK pub £100,000 a year, researchers find

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BFFF: commissioned research

BFFF: commissioned research

Frozen food could save an average UK pub over £100,000 per annum, according to new research by the University of Salford for the British Frozen Food Federation (BFFF).

Researchers created a business case using a ‘real life’ pub, analysing cost centres for the 10most popular meals sold over the course of one week. In comparison to using fresh/chilled, they concluded a total saving of £50,000 could be achieved per year by opting for frozen ingredients – which increased to £115,000 if using ready-made frozen meals.

Brian Young, director general of British Frozen Food Federation, said: “Eighteen pubs are closing their doors every week, 50% up on the previous year. Pubs are having to deal with rising energy costs, continued food price inflation and the decreased spending power of their consumer base. They need foodservice industry support.

“In this tough economic climate there is a compelling business case for pubs to use frozen food. Buying frozen will save them money because of competitive and stable food prices, the ability to control portion sizes and wastage, plus the opportunity to cut kitchen labour costs. This will help pubs to reduce their overheads, produce more accurate pricing models and protect their profits. Frozen could help many pubs to stay afloat.”

Commissioned by The British Frozen Food Federation (BFFF) and conducted by the University of Salford Business and Hospitality Schools, the new Frozen Lion: A Business Case research calculated the cost centres for preparing identical pub meals using fresh/chilled ingredients, frozen ingredients and frozen ready-made meals.

It compared the 10 most popular dishes sold in a case study establishment during winter 2012-13. Dishes included one starter – prawn cocktail; eight main courses – steak pie, burger and chips, fish and chips, a roast beef dinner, lamb shank, nut loaf, continental chicken and a hot beef sandwich; and one dessert – rhubarb crumble.

Researchers evaluated the equivalent ingredient costs for fresh/chilled and frozen ingredients, in terms of weight and quality. They reviewed the cost of kitchen staff grades – from chef de partie to kitchen porter, plus the time needed to prepare each dish. In addition, they investigated the total cost of utilities – including gas, electricity and water – needed to store, prepare, cook, plus wash and clean up after each chilled and frozen dish. The cost of food waste was also determined. 

Key findings from the research highlighted:

  • Using frozen ingredients could save an establishment approximately £50,000 (21.5%) a year over fresh/chilled, with ready-made frozen meals saving approximately £115,000 (49%)
  • Frozen ingredient costs were on average 15% less than their fresh/chilled counterparts, and frozen ready-made meals 36% less
  • Kitchen staffing costs were reduced by £58,809.26 (32%) per annum using frozen ingredients in comparison to fresh/chilled, rising to £122,382.32 (67%) with frozen ready-made meals
  • Utility costs could be reduced by 4.5% using frozen ingredients and 34% using ready-made meals, in contrast to fresh/chilled

Chris Procter, senior lecturer at Salford University Business School, said: “Our research identified the remarkable savings that can be made by opting for frozen. Based on these findings we would strongly support the argument for using frozen ingredients or ready-made meals as a means to reduce pubs’ overheads.”

The Frozen Lion: A Business Case research forms part of BFFF’s ‘Profiting from Frozen Food’ foodservice campaign which aims to educate the foodservice sector on how they can profit from using frozen food in the face of a UK recession. The new research supports BFFF’s ‘Cost Comparison’ research (2009) findings which demonstrated that cooking identical dishes using frozen ingredients were up to 33% cheaper than their fresh/chilled counterpart.