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The growth of the frozen food market in the UK continues and is expected to continue in the upcoming years. Frozen food is the fastest-growing retail food category in the UK. Thus, the market grew by 4% in 2018 and reached a total value of 8.3£bn according to the British Frozen Food Federation.
As a reminder, freezing is a physical process that consists in transforming the water contained in food into ice. It crystallizes the water of constitution using a very low temperature (below -30° C) and then stabilizes the food at -18° C. Crystallization is carried out, depending on the products, in a few minutes: 5 to 7 minutes for green beans and about 15 minutes for a chicken in its entirety.
The industrial equipment used prevents the formation of large ice crystals, which will damage the cellular structures of food and carry nutrients into the water of their melting when thawed. The techniques used allow the water in the cells to freeze into tiny crystals, resulting in no change in texture, preserving the appearance, colours, flavours and all the nutritional elements of the food after thawing. For instance, the development in freezing technologies are driving the frozen vegetables and fruits market as it helps producer to preserve the nutritional value of the vegetables and fruits for longer period.
Thus, the success of frozen products is due to their ability to provide convenient, pre-prepared, low-waste ingredients that can appeal to consumers. The competitive advantage of frozen products also lies in being able to satisfy an ever more complex and far reaching demand. Indeed, the working people gets less time for preparing meals and frozen products meet their desire to save time and money. Frozen pizza, and frozen bread and savoury bakery goods accounted for a very large share of sales in the frozen products market.
But at the same time, these consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the quality of products and the risks associated with high sodium and fats content which could hamper the market growth.
However, this demand for healthier products represents a real opportunity for the frozen food market. Frozen products can then provide high-quality home versions of trendsetting dishes, like Veg-protein dishes which grew by 10.7% in 2018.
Frozen food segmentation is based on distribution channel, offline and online. The offline channel includes hypermarket and supermarkets.
The distribution of frozen food products will benefit from the massive development of online purchases, that became the norm in the household. The key players in UK frozen food market, like Birds Eye, McCain or Total Foodservice, are thus developing both channels. The arrival of Amazon Fresh in the UK in 2016 could thus increase this trend.
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