Frozen grocery sales finish 2020 on a high, BFF reports

Frozen food sales finished 2020 on a high, adding another £252m in sales in the last three-month period, according to the latest Kantar figures released by the British Frozen Food Federation.

The research reveals that the frozen food aisle has been the star performer of grocery retail in the last 12 months, performing better in terms of value and volume percentage growth than any other category apart from alcohol.

The latest figures for the 12 months to 29 November show that the overall grocery market grew 11.3% in value and 9.0% in volume over the 52-week period. Frozen food sales have outperformed total grocery growth in both value +13.8% and volume +11.5%.

In total the frozen category has added £871m in sales value in the 52 weeks to the end of November and exceeded the fresh and chilled category in both value and volume in percentage growth. 

The figures reveal that of the nine categories reported by Kantar all are in value growth, with six in double digit growth. It is a similar picture in volume with eight categories in growth, of which five are in double digit growth. Average price has also increased by 2.0%, slightly behind the 2.1% for total grocery, whereas the average price of fresh and chilled has declined by 0.8%.

Tesco remains the leading frozen food retailer with 23% of sales by value, slightly down year-on-year, but almost double that of the second largest retailer of frozen food Asda with 12.5%. Waitrose, M&S and Ocado all saw a small increase in their share of frozen sales in the last 12 months. Iceland showed a slight decline in share but still recorded significant value growth along with all retailers. 

Commenting on the figures, Richard Harrow, BFFF chief executive, said: “In grocery retail frozen food has had a fantastic year with many consumers increasing their frozen food purchasing or indeed finding the frozen aisle for the first time. During December many retailers were reporting demand remained high especially for frozen turkey crowns and seasonal products with shoppers emptying freezers as quickly as they could be stocked.

“Whilst this year’s performance has been driven by the changing shopping habits due to the pandemic and the return to the big weekly shop, many consumers have been converted to buying more frozen products by the long shelf-life, reduced food waste, value for money and variety of food on offer.”

He added: “Sadly, out of home has been decimated by the pandemic. Sales of frozen food are forecast to drop to £1.4bn for the year, indeed this may drop further with the recent introduction of Tier 4 restrictions.

Even before this impact the total frozen food market, retail and foodservice, will have declined by £187m, or a 2.1% during 2020.

“I hope 2021 will see the return of a more balanced market and a substantial recovery in out of home sales. At the same time, I’m confident that retail sales will remain strong and that shoppers renewed enthusiasm for frozen food will continue.”