Healthy image makes the chiller a winner

Whether they are buying pizzas, ready meals or cold meats, consumers are looking for more than just convenience from fridge foods.

Chilled foods
Chilled foods are seen as healthier and tastier than the frozen alternatives and ready meals offer an economical alternative to a takeaway, says Key Note Research.

BUSY lifestyles, the need for an affordable treat and a desire to eat healthily are just some of the factors credited with keeping chilled food sales buoyant. According to the Key Note market report Chilled Foods 2014, the UK spent £12.7bn at the chiller cabinet last year. That amounts to 15.1% of total expenditure on food.

It is, the report noted: “a strong and resilient industry which has enjoyed year-on-year growth for some years now … flexibility, popularity and a diverse range of products have stood the category in good stead, leaving it well-placed to withstand challenges such as rising food prices and consumers cutting down their expenditure.”
Chilled foods are, the report continued, perceived to be tastier and healthier than frozen alternatives. As well as offering time-saving meals they are bought by cash-strapped workers who make packed lunches. The biggest-selling single sub-category in chilled foods, sliced cooked meats, is worth £2.2bn. But cold meat sales growth has slowed over the last couple of years (6.9% in 2011, 2.1% last year), which could be down to health concerns over the amount of salt and fat in processed meat.
What growth there has been has been driven by the increased popularity of turkey.
Other sub-categories, poultry, value-added seafood, chilled prepared fish and chilled smoked fish, could all be benefitting. Those products are also popular for sandwiches, but seafood and poultry are seen as healthier options than red meat, Key Note suggests.
Some manufacturers have also introduced light and low-fat options in ready meals and pizzas.
In fact ready meals, worth £1.5bn last year, have continued to grow as customers look for a cheap alternative to a takeaway or a meal in a restaurant. But the sales growth has been concentrated in supermarkets offering promotions such as M&S’s “Dine in for £10” deals.
Chilled desserts and cakes could well be benefitting as convenient affordable chilled treats, says the report.

• Key Note Chilled Foods 2014. £575.
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