‘Once in a lifetime’ opportunity for frozen food, says BFFF president

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The frozen food industry has a ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity to grow sales and help cut carbon emissions according to Ian Stone, president and chair of the British Frozen Food Federation (BFFF).

In an up-beat address to 700 business leaders at the Federation’s Annual Luncheon at London’s Hilton Park Lane today (25 November), Stone said British consumers had ‘fallen in love with frozen food’ during the pandemic and that this, combined with heightened interest in environmental issues, has created the perfect platform from which frozen can continue to grow.

At the first live luncheon since 2019, Stone urged his peers to seize the opportunity, saying: “Consumers have discovered what we have always known; frozen foods are easy to store and cook, with little wastage. Quality and taste are fantastic and there is a wide range of menu choices. It means we have seen nearly £1bn added to the value of retail sales above that of 2019.

“We need to seize this pivotal moment. In retail, we must continue to innovate with product; deliver healthier options, further embrace meat-free, plant-based alternatives, continue to deliver brilliant value for money. In foodservice, we need to garner the new enthusiasm for frozen food and celebrate its benefits; particularly quality and value for money.”

Stone, who is chief commercial officer and managing director of Wiltshire Farm Foods, part of the apetito group, also said more needs to be done to highlight the sustainability benefits of frozen food. To reinforce this, the Federation is planning to run a Frozen Food Week in September next year, dedicated to the role frozen can play in reducing food waste.

He commented: “As a nation we waste 9.5m tonnes of food per year. Of that, nearly 7m tonnes is simply thrown away. By encouraging consumers to buy more frozen food we could dramatically impact this figure. Fresh vegetables and salads are the largest single area of food waste, with 3m carrots and 1m onions alone being thrown away every single day. Manufacturing a frozen product is often undertaken with longer production runs, resulting in less change overs and minimising lost raw materials. It is a more efficient process from start to finish.”

Stone concluded: “We are in a unique position because frozen food is surely the most sustainable food option of all. So to consumers and caterers who ask how they can be more sustainable, the answer is very simple: buy more frozen.”