British shoppers switching to frozen food as they battle to keep costs low

British shoppers are switching from fresh to frozen food to keep household costs from rising further amid the cost-of-living crisis, new retail data has revealed.

According to research from retail analysts Kantar, many frozen products are doing ‘notably better’ than their fresh counterparts as record levels of food price inflation, high energy prices and shortages of fruit and vegetables continue to put pressure on household budgets.

Demand was strongest for items such as frozen chicken, for which volumes rose by 5.9% in the 12 weeks to 20 March this year, while sales of frozen prepared foods, including ready meals, pizzas and  chips, increased by 2.6%.

According to the data, which was reported by the BBC, many shoppers are doing what they can to avoid having to pay higher prices, as the soaring cost of the weekly shop has been a significant factor in the squeeze on UK households.

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Furthermore, Kantar revealed that frozen food volumes held steady, even as shoppers were buying less. Total grocery volumes fell by 4%, while the volume of frozen goods bought was unchanged, the data showed.

Frozen food is doing “notably better” than fresh at the moment, Fraser McKevitt, the head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar UK, told the BBC.

“Some of that is clearly to do with the cost of living,” he added.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) said consumers are making the same “swaps to save money” as the cost of living rises.

“Frozen food tends to be much cheaper, and there’s less waste, so you can see why it’s selling well in the cost of living crisis,” said retail analyst Ged Futter, speaking to the BBC.

Commenting on the data, Iceland Foods chair Richard Walker said frozen food unlocks “so many benefits to consumers”, pointing out that frozen food is ofetn fresher with less preservatives, as well as offering “so much more value for money”.

“This is backed up by research showing that when it comes to cost, purchasing frozen food can save an average of 30%,” he added.

“It’s no surprise to our business, which over the past 50 years has been built around the advantages of frozen food, that more shoppers are waking up to this more budget friendly option during these challenging economic times. There is also more variety and innovation in the freezer aisle than ever before too, with more diverse offerings and new brands causing consumers to rethink their weekly shopping list.”

Waitrose, M&S and Iceland have all told the BBC frozen food is rising in popularity, while Tesco has also seen shoppers switching from fresh to frozen.



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