Frozen food stands to benefit as consumers rein in their spending amid the global economic downturn, Pinguin, the European vegetable processor, claimed today (21 October).

Speaking to just-food at the SIAL exhibition in Paris, Pinguin CFO Steven D’haene was upbeat about the Belgium-based group’s proespects despite the ongoing concern over the economy.

“Frozen food is a cheaper alternative to other food and, if the economy moves down, it will be of benefit to us,” D’haene said.

Pinguin is in a period of restructuring after last year’s EUR175m (US$231.2m) acquisition of fellow Belgian frozen foods group Lutosa.

The deal, D’haene said, has taken the company “on to the next playing field”, boosting its international presence and taking annual turnover from around EUR150m to EUR450m.

Nevertheless, while the acquisition has improved the company’s standing in markets from Japan and Brazil, D’haene said the group would continue with plans to consolidate its businesses in certain markets. He singled out the UK, where Pinguin is looking to reduce the number of manufacturing sites it has from four to two.

However, the company is eyeing further acquisitions despite the turbulent economic climate, D’haene insisted. “We have not stopped looking at acquisitions but it depends on the price and it depends on the case. We will not take any risk,” he said.

D’haene, meanwhile, said Pinguin will be renamed Pinguin-Lutosa at the start of 2009 to further highlight the well-established Lutosa brand.

The company is also looking to build a new head office in Westrozebeke at the start of next year.