Fabulously frozen

Kantar's latest figures compare last year's unprecedented summer weather with this year's`

Serving up taste and nutrition at the right price, while playing an important role in the ongoing battle against food waste, frozen food is an important category to get right with premium products with quality ingredients on display, writes Gillian Hamill


Brand Central

21 February 2022 | 0

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In the early days of lockdown, stockpiling had a significant impact on sales of frozen foods in Ireland, as consumers looked to stretch the impact of their trip to the grocery store. Today, shoppers are returning to the frozen aisle for the many healthy, long-lasting, convenient foods the category has on offer.

The frozen food category has evolved in recent years to align with the changing demands of the Irish market. In an era when both health and wellness and environmental concerns are important to consumers, leading frozen food brands are generating sales by delivering taste and nutrition at the right price, while also helping reduce food waste.

What’s more, quality ingredients mean the convenience of frozen foods does not come with a cost to healthy eating. The category is traditionally an area where shoppers stock up on pre-planned purchases so retailers should be aware of the latest innovations and products in the category. However, as analyst Shopper Intelligence points out in the infographic within this feature, some segments are more impulse-driven.

A recent Mintel report covering the UK market, reflects some of the trends currently occurring within the Irish marketplace. The ‘UK Attitudes Towards Frozen Foods’ market report found frozen food sales grew strongly in 2020 and for much of the first half of 2021 due to the Covid-19 restrictions shifting meal occasions to the home and consumers stockpiling long-life products. The report found value sales of frozen food are expected to rise by 11.5% to just under £6.1 billion over 2021-26, with volume sales falling by 0.3% to 1.6 billion kg.

According to Mintel, frozen food products with ethical certifications and labelling merit further explorations, as ethical claims are extremely rare in the frozen foods sector. Innovation here would also help companies to tap into consumers’ increased ethical awareness as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mintel also found there is a need for more health-led NPD in the frozen foods category given consumers’ heightened health consciousness since the Covid-19 outbreak, with the impending new restrictions on marketing and in-store promotions of HFSS (high in (saturated) fat, salt or sugar) foods adding urgency to this for certain segments.

A further Mintel study entitled ‘Ireland Chilled vs Frozen Foods Market Report 2020’ also reveals some interesting insights. This found that frozen foods in particular have benefited during the pandemic, likely for their long shelf life and lower price point, which have proven to be of vital importance with seven in 10 consumers agreeing that frozen food has been useful during the Covid-19 outbreak. According to Mintel, chilled foods’ higher price point may see some cash-strapped consumers shift more towards own-label alternatives, discounters or frozen foods. However, the biggest opportunity presenting itself to chilled and frozen foods is the increased time consumers are spending at home and the associated rise in in-home meal preparation.

As is the case right across the economy, inflation is impacting the frozen sector. Grocery market figures from Kantar for the 12 weeks ending 3 October 2021, found that prices are 0.6% higher than a year ago, with healthcare, hot beverages and frozen food the most affected categories – up 8.0%, 5.1% and 4.6% respectively. This makes the value-for-money proposition represented by the brands on these pages all the more impressive.

Leader in frozen potato

All McCain packaging is now recyclable, and the brand has pledged to make 100% of its packaging recyclable, reusable or compostable worldwide by 2025

McCain is the number one frozen potato brand in Ireland* and as a category leader, has continued to adapt to the new shopping habits that have arisen during the pandemic reshaping the retail landscape.

Frozen food has become particularly valued by a rising number of environmentally conscious consumers, with 49% of shoppers in Ireland considering sustainability when buying food and drink**. Welcoming the category’s benefit of reduced food waste, this increased consumer demand for frozen has been notable in the Irish market, with McCain seeing a growth of 14.1% in the sector***.

McCain is Ireland’s number one frozen potato brand in Ireland

Alongside reduced food waste, the recent announcement concerning packaging waste by Irish Minister of State, Ossian Smyth, has meant that all McCain packaging is now recyclable. The frozen giant has also pledged to make 100% of its packaging recyclable, reusable or compostable worldwide by 2025. The brand’s focus on sustainability and reducing waste is also further demonstrated by their mission to have zero waste to landfill and 100% potato utilisation that same year.

McCain will continue to focus on sustainable business practices as well as highlighting the role of frozen food in combating food waste and will work with retailers to educate consumers on these benefits.

*(Source: Nielsen Scantrack, Value Share MAT To 2/1/22)

**(Source: www.irishtimes.com/business/agribusiness-and-food/consumers-expectations-around-sustainability-now-much-higher-1.4609366)

***(Source: Nielsen Scantrack Value MAT To 2/1/22 % Chge vs 2YAGO)

Q & A with… Jim Mahon, commercial director, Vista Foods

Made from real chicken, Chicken with Attitude is a premium offering, designed to stand out from cheaper, chopped and shaped reformed alternatives available in the market

Q: What impact did the Covid-19 pandemic exert on sales and how did you navigate the various challenges involved?

A: We launched the Chicken with Attitude range in the last quarter of 2019 with a flurry of In-store tasting demonstrations. Our demonstrators were cooking up the products in an Air Fryer and consumers were amazed with how good the chicken tasted.

Comments like ‘It tastes like real chicken’ or ‘So crispy and juicy’ were common. People told us that they would never usually buy frozen cooked chicken, but this range definitely changed their attitude.

Then disaster. The Covid pandemic arrived in early 2020. All cooking demonstrations were cancelled and the masks went on. We largely had to rely on the quality of the packaging and some innovative promotions to keep sales moving, encouraging trial and consumer tasting at home. Thankfully retail shopping went through the roof. The brand prospered.

With distinctive duck egg blue packaging and an ‘Outrageously Tasty‘ promise, bags of Chicken with Attitude have strong shelf impact and merchandise well

Q: In today’s climate, health is a key concern for many shoppers, who are increasingly looking for quality ingredients. How are you appealing to this cohort through your product specification?

A: The basic product is hand-cut chicken breast fillet. Nothing is chopped and shaped with added water. Consumers can rest assured they are buying premium quality. There is no MSG and we have designed coatings which crisp up perfectly from an air fryer or oven in 15 minutes. No oil is required.

Q: How significant a factor is price for consumers within your category?

A: I believe consumers are becoming more knowledgeable when it comes to purchasing. We deliberately positioned Chicken with Attitude as a premium product in a 500g family size bag. For 18 tenders of real chicken with unique flavours, the price is €11 per kg: €5.49 per bag. Cheaper, chopped and shaped reformed alternatives can sell from €15 to €18 per kg. Smaller bags may bring down the unit cost, but it is a false economy. Consumers are liking the quality difference. For a fiver they are getting delicious snack food. People want to feed their families with the best quality available and Chicken with Attitude is therefore becoming the preferred family choice.

Southern Style Tenders are the latest addition to the Chicken with Attitude range which also includes Crispy Golden Tenders, Sizzler Hot & Spicy Tenders and Popcorn Chicken

Q: How does your product range stand out from other options available within the market?

A: The majority of packs out there fall into the yellow and red category with the company name being the brand. We chose a quirky name and personality for the brand ‘Chicken with Attitude’ in distinctive duck egg blue bags. So between the name, the colour and the ‘Outrageously Tasty‘ promise, there are a lot of unique selling propositions going on. The bags have tremendous shelf impact and merchandise well. We also have bespoke CWA freezers in top stores to stimulate sales. The family size bag is extremely popular as it can feed two adults and two children.

Q: What plans for further innovation do you currently have in the pipeline?  

A: Besides the initial three products in the range: Crispy Golden Tenders, Sizzler Hot & Spicy Tenders and Popcorn Chicken, we have recently introduced new Southern Style Tenders.

We will continue to expand distribution and support the brand with Innovative promotions, social media campaigns and advertising over the coming months.  Our goal is to have the brand listed with all the multiples by the end of 2022. Ultimately, we would hope to have six or seven variants in the range in response to increasing consumer demand.

From sea to plate

Now consumers can follow the journey from sea to plate as Donegal Catch reveals new QR code packs

This National Fish Week (28 February – 6 March), Donegal Catch is excited to reveal a new look for its Irish haddock and whiting products. With new interactive QR codes, a quick scan of their phone will allow shoppers to follow the journey from sea to plate, meet some of the Donegal Catch fishermen, discover the fishing zones, meet the team and more.

Working closely with Irish fish suppliers to source the best tasting Irish haddock and whiting, Donegal Catch is a key stakeholder in the Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) backed Fishery Improvement Project (FIP), which focuses on improving the sustainability of Irish fisheries. Donegal Catch procures 100% of its Irish haddock and whiting from Irish co-ops and fishermen who are members of the Fishery Improvement Project (FIP). This ensures Donegal Catch brings consumers responsibly caught Irish fish which is fully traceable back to the boat.

Donegal Catch procures 100% of its Irish haddock and whiting from Irish co-ops and fishermen who are members of the Fishery Improvement Project (FIP)

‘As part of our ongoing sustainability journey, we know it is important to drive awareness and understanding of responsible fishing practices and the role Donegal Catch plays in the long-term care of our Irish waters and marine resources,” says Aisling Twomey, Donegal Catch marketing manager.

“Consumers are increasingly interested in traceability, Irish provenance and supporting local.  By scanning the QR code and visiting our website, they can learn more about where in Irish waters the haddock and whiting are sourced, the importance of fishery improvement projects, the fishermen involved and our processing team who have been supplying Donegal Catch for almost 40 years.”

Visit www.donegalcatch.ie/sustainability/fish-origin for more on the Donegal Catch sea to plate journey.


Serving up good since 1959

Green Isle has launched a new campaign brought to life nationally across radio, digital and social. The ‘Serving up Good Since 1959’ campaign brings together Green Isle’s Irish heritage, history of innovation and mission to help people eat well.

As one of Ireland’s leading food brands, Green Isle has been putting good, nutritious food on Irish dinner tables since 1959. The brand has a long history of making healthy eating accessible and sustainable for consumers in Ireland. From classic side dishes such as garden peas, to flavoursome stir-fry mixes, to the more modern tastes of cauliflower rice, Green Isle makes it easy to eat well. Growing up with Irish families and helping discover new tastes, the Green Isle range of frozen fruit and vegetables has something for everyone to enjoy!

“At Green Isle we’ve been serving up good, nutritious food for over 60 years,” says Mairéad Walsh, marketing manager, Green Isle. “The new campaign speaks to our longstanding heritage of helping the people of Ireland eat well.”

Carefully selected, picked at their peak and frozen at their freshest to lock in vitamins, minerals and flavour, with Green Isle, consumers can enjoy the convenience of always having delicious, nutritious vegetables and fruit on hand. The brand therefore advises stocking your freezers with all the nutrition and taste of Green Isle, Ireland’s trusted ally for good food.

Shopper Intelligence:  Pay attention to different roles of frozen categories

It is important to distinguish between the varying roles different categories play in the frozen aisle, Shopper Intelligence advises. Categories like vegetarian foods, meats, fish and chips/veg will drive traffic in-store and down the frozen aisle. These are pre-planned and shoppers are coming looking for them. But when in the frozen aisle, categories such as ice cream, pizza and meal solutions are impulsive and can drive unplanned/additional spend to the basket. these should stand out and really tempt shoppers.’









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