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Frozen category research – setting the scene

Fiona O'Shaughnessy, PCF Business Dev Manager

Frozen Category Research Source.PNG

The frozen category within the retail channel has been very well positioned to service the change in shopping and consumer behaviors as result of the Covid 19- pandemic, and this has been particularly true in the critical UK market.

Responding to that and setting Irish client companies up for success, Bord Bia commissioned an extensive research project titled ‘Future of Frozen UK’. The objective of the research is to land on a series of innovation platforms which can translate into commercial opportunities for Irish frozen suppliers who operate in the UK market. These will help guide future strategy, product development and communication for the frozen sector.

An article on next week’s bulletin will set out the key insights from that research that client companies can apply to their own businesses.

To set the scene on the change in frozen purchase in the UK, below sets out some of the dynamics that can be concluded from Kantar retail data.

In the UK, the category has experienced significant growth. According to Kantar, the category is now valued at £7.4bn, growing at 14.4% resulting in an additional €930m in value (Kantar, 2021).  The frozen category grew ahead of the retail channel (+11.5%) and also ahead of its chilled and fresh counterparts.  A total of 4.1bn frozen units were sold last year, which was +10.9% yoy ahead of total grocery +7.9% (Kantar,2021).

This growth was experienced across all categories within frozen except for ready meals, which experienced flat growth.  The ready meal category was a victim of our new change of lifestyle with more people working from home and an increase in scratch cooking.  However, it still performed stronger than the chilled ready meal category which experienced a decline of 3.6% (Kantar, 2021).

This growth in frozen category has resulted from the change of shopper behaviours since Covid-19. 

Consumers were shopping less often however their basket size and spend had increased. During the periods of restrictions and lockdowns, frozen foods has assisted consumers to ensure they have plenty of food stocked up in the case of an emergency and with the added benefits of having zero waste.

Shoppers have switched to online market share 14.4% (Kantar, 2021) and frozen is very well positioned to service this due to larger basket sizes and also consumers don’t have to experience the uncomfortable nature of having to walk around the cold frozen category within a store. 

Working from home has also benefitted the category.  Frozen Foods have been outperforming others across all times of day since the first lockdown with lunch an occasion that has really benefitted the category.  Consumers now have access at home to both their freezer and oven.  According to Kantar, the lunchtime occasion +44% for frozen foods adding an additional 40m per week (Kantar, 2021). This should continue to benefit the category as working from home continues in some format with 91% of people in the UK wanting to work from home after lockdown in some form (Kantar, 2021).

Maintaining this growth momentum and continued engagement with shoppers in a post pandemic world will be key for future growth of this category.  As part of this research, numerous sources point towards these trends for continued growth within frozen:

  1. More engaging convenience
  2. Accommodating the needs of the new generation
  3. Willingness to explore
  4. Enhancing the value for money equation


For further information please contact Fiona.oshaughnessy@bordbia.ie



  • (2021). Kantar Frozen Data.