WWith runaway inflation in meals costs now including greater than £800 to the typical family’s annual grocery invoice, Brits are being pressured to alter the way in which they store, whether or not it is altering supermarkets or ditching their favourite manufacturers in favor of cheaper personal label choices.
The numbers recommend savvy consumers are additionally more and more heading straight for the freezer aisle, not simply to save lots of on staples, but in addition treats like desserts and fancy prepared meals.
However does this actually decrease your meals invoice, and if that’s the case, by how a lot? What are the very best (and worst) issues to purchase? Right here, we carry the (freezer) lid on the financial savings some specialists say folks could make, and provide some prime suggestions from freezer fanatics.
gross sales are up
With the most recent official figures displaying foods and drinks costs up 19% within the final 12 months, it is maybe no shock that the frozen aisle, with its repute for low costs, is again in vogue.
On account of the price of residing disaster, consumers are shopping for much less meals general.
Regardless of this, nonetheless, within the 12 weeks to April 16, frozen meals gross sales volumes rose 0.5%, in accordance with grocery store analysts Kantar, whereas contemporary meals gross sales fell 3. 3%.
Frozen meals is the “best story ever advised to the British public,” in accordance with Andrew Staniland, the group’s buying director at Icelandic meals.
Because the disaster erupted final yr, consumers have turned to shops in Iceland, which, he says, provide financial savings of round 30% in comparison with cool shops.
Initially, he says, clients cautiously switched from contemporary to frozen rooster, fish and greens, however later moved to comfort meals, equivalent to prepared meals and desserts, as they grew to become extra comfy with the swap.
“Shoppers are starting to comprehend that the frozen meals provide is now simply as huge because the contemporary provide,” he says. “We have seen the identical degree of inflation, however frozen has maintained its worth hole, so it is the cheaper of the 2 choices.”
Historically, frozen meals gross sales improve throughout robust financial occasions, with the objective of saving cash and avoiding meals waste.
The sector additionally grew in the course of the pandemic, with gross sales up 30% as folks had been caught at house and confronted restrictions.
What are folks shopping for?
Proper now, demand is strongest for objects like frozen rooster, up almost 10%, Kantar says, and comfort meals, together with prepared meals, pizza and chips, up 3.7 %.
“Frozen meals supermarkets have developed their ranges rather a lot for the reason that final price of residing disaster,” says Staniland, with chains providing “deluxe” frozen ranges. “A lot of the market is now evaluating Waitrose and Marks & Spencer on merchandise like prepared meals.”
Crunching the numbers
So are the financial savings actually as massive as Staniland claims?
The 30% determine pertains to a 2019 examine carried out by Manchester Metropolitan College. Their findings recommended that 18 out of 20 households thought-about frozen to be a greater worth, with a mean financial savings of 29.9%.
In a newer examine, the group of customers Which? analyzed comparable own-brand contemporary and frozen merchandise in 9 supermarkets. (All costs are for 100g and from February 2023.)
For breaded cod, for instance, the most affordable contemporary was 75p, whereas frozen was 72p. Contemporary raspberries began at £1.26 however solely 43p within the freezer. The most cost effective contemporary “meat occasion” pizza was 60p however frozen 26p. Broccoli began at 19p contemporary, 11p frozen.
Some frozen objects, together with truffles and prepared meals, price extra, however which of them? he concluded that, for many issues, frozen “might get monetary savings.”
Which? Retail editor, Ele Clark, says: “Nobody desires to overpay for staple meals.
“These ready to go frozen on the grocery store will probably discover some nice worth options to contemporary.
“Contemporary meals is usually thought-about the highest quality choice, however that is not essentially the case, and frozen meals clearly lasts for much longer, which might additionally enable you scale back meals waste.”
Is it higher for the planet?
If meals waste is an issue in your family (the typical household with youngsters throws away £60 a month price of meals), shopping for frozen meals might assist remove this.
Waste is unhealthy on your pockets and the planet as a result of round a 3rd of UK greenhouse gasoline emissions are related to foods and drinks.
“In case you’re losing the meals you purchase, you are losing cash,” says Helen White, particular adviser for family meals waste at environmental charity Wrap.
“Frozen meals lasts longer, you should utilize the quantity you want whenever you want it, and in some circumstances it is cheaper.”
With contemporary greens and salads among the many most wasted meals within the UK, White says switching from contemporary to frozen could possibly be a superb choice.
“We’re not simply speaking about peas, carrots, cauliflower and broccoli,” he provides. “Now you will get frozen mushrooms, bell peppers, Mediterranean-style roasted greens, squash, and spinach, to not point out chopped onions.”
If you find yourself throwing away the bananas and berries you obtain to make smoothies, she suggests swapping them out for a frozen fruit combine.
“The freeze acts as a pause button. Meals in a freezer is not going to spoil and most micro organism can’t develop in it.”
As a result of it’s cheaper?
In brief, as a result of it may be transported over longer distances and there’s much less waste within the provide chain.
“The contemporary provide chain cannot deal with the distances frozen meals is shipped,” says Staniland.
“You may also introduce longer and extra environment friendly manufacturing runs than contemporary. It has nothing to do with the substances.”
Why, then, are some patrons nonetheless overlooking it? Staniland suggests it is a hangover from the Eighties and Nineties, when frozen meals had been related to comfort meals like rooster nuggets and French fries: “Since then, the entire class has advanced.”