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Supermarket culture 'fails' frozen food manufacturers

By Gary Scattergood , 06-Feb-2013
Last updated on 06-Feb-2013 at 13:02 GMT

Food manufacturers are let down by supermarkets' failure to provide enough space for frozen food, says Brian Young
Food manufacturers are let down by supermarkets' failure to provide enough space for frozen food, says Brian Young

The multiples are letting down manufacturers and ignoring consumer trends by failing to adequately display or provide enough space for frozen foods.

Brian Young, director general of the British Frozen Food Federation said the big four supermarkets were lagging behind public opinion when it came to frozen food.

After recording its 25th annual growth quarter out of 26 up to November 2012 and "overtrading by up to 40% better than the average for online sales", Young said it was high time the supermarkets showed the sector more attention.

"The problem with the big four retailers is that if you go to the fresh or chilled sections there will be wonderful pictures of food and families and eating occasions and it looks great then you go to the frozen aisle and it is all about deal, deal, deal.

'Increasingly popular'

"Now there are lots of people working hard to show how you can present the aisle in a much more food-orientated way and the retailers really have to pick up the challenge with that but the sales show that frozen is becoming increasingly popular."

Young said neglecting frozen foods could also mean that retailers were shooting themselves in the foot, with the economic climate and a desire to waste less prompting increasing numbers of shoppers to venture down the frozen aisles.

"I'm bound to say that frozen food doesn't get enough space in the supermarkets, but frozen has to make the case and be driving sales so well that retailers don't have a choice, and we are making progress here.

"It is interesting that if you go over the last five years and look at the most successful retailers in terms of growth, at the top of the list would be Iceland, then Farmfoods, then Aldi which 'over space' for frozen and that must tell you something. All of those businesses have done really, really well with more frozen space."

'Best-performing sectors'

Young also highlighted the growth in internet shopping, which he said had boosted frozen's fortunes, claiming it was one of the best-performing sectors.

"Once you've taken away the glass doors and you just think about the product and the packaging, consumers are clearly very happy," he said.

"We now need retailers to help frozen food manufacturers achieve the same level of success in the supermarkets. There are three things they could do very quickly. Firstly, they can look at merchandising and realise it isn't about stuffing as many products as they can in a small space. Secondly, they could make sure that the blend of the products they've got actually allows some aspirational and premium goods in there and, thirdly, they could look at how the frozen specialists and even Waitrose present their frozen food in store and learn from them."

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