A new study commissioned by Birds Eye and Iceland has suggested that the acceleration of frozen food’s revival during the lockdown is set to continue and create long-term changes in shopping habits.
With more shoppers than ever being drawn to the category since mid-March, the results of the study highlight value for money and reduction of food waste as two of the main reasons that the popularity will remain.
The survey of how habits have changed shows the freezer becoming a particular favourite with younger shoppers. Over a quarter (26%) of 18-24-year olds are buying more frozen equivalents of their regular fresh items and almost a third (31%) are trying new frozen foods such as meat substitutes.
As attitudes towards food continue to develop, with people spending more time in the kitchen and cooking from scratch, a third (33%) of all UK shoppers were found to using their freezer more efficiently with a further one in five (21%) including more frozen foods in their cooking. The stats indicate this could be a long-term trend as almost a quarter (24%) plan to continue buying more frozen food after lockdown.
The cost saving potential was highlighted as one of the key benefits that frozen food has over fresh alternatives, with one in five (21%) saying frozen items can be better value for money than fresh.
And with over a third (34%) of shoppers planning to tighten their purse strings when it comes to food shopping after lockdown, the research suggested that frozen food is likely to be a regular fixture on people’s shopping lists.
Further research commissioned by Birds Eye and Iceland before lockdown found that over £188m worth of food was wasted nationwide each week, with much of this being fresh food thrown away. 85% of consumers said they want to reduce their household food waste, but a quarter of those admitted to not knowing where to start.
However, the researchers suggested that the lockdown has given shoppers the time to reflect, with 47% of those polled expressing they are far more conscious of the food that their household is wasting since March. When asked why, the top reasons were becoming more aware on what they are spending on food (48%), avoiding unnecessary trips to the shop (44%) and being more conscious of the food that is being wasted collectively (39%).
Steve Challouma, General Manager UK at Birds Eye said: “It’s clear that whilst lockdown has brought many different challenges, new frozen shopping habits have emerged to help us save money and reduce food waste, whilst still enabling us to enjoy great quality and delicious food. The research also shows that many of us are making healthy food choices and adding more goodness to our diet – with shoppers actively buying more frozen vegetables.
“We’re excited to see shoppers discovering the many benefits of frozen food including the interesting and tasty products on offer, and how they can be enjoyed on their own or used in creating delicious recipes. As households become even more conscious of their spending, we expect this behaviour to continue.”
Richard Walker, Managing Director at Iceland added: “Many families have taken positive learnings from lockdown, and we recognise that families are looking to reduce both their household spending and food waste more than ever before. We believe that simple switches to frozen food can help to make a real difference, without any need to compromise on taste or quality.
“The recent findings highlight the positive role frozen food can play, and we look forward to inspiring more and more families to make the switch to frozen as a permanent change.”