Retailers must “accept the premiumisation” of the freezer aisle to foster the continued development of the frozen category, British Frozen Food Federation director general Brian Young has suggested.

Speaking to just-food at the IFE industry trade show in London today (15 March), Young predicted that frozen food sales would benefit this year from a constricting economic environment. “As consumer confidence goes down, sales of frozen food go up,” Young observed.

With continued food inflation, the pressure of worldwide population growth and issues of food security and food waste all propelling category expansion, Young predicted a wider uptake of frozen foods “for the foreseeable future”.

However, in order separate growth from wider economic and demographic cycles, frozen food manufacturers are focusing on innovation, adding value and brand building, Young said.

Young pointed to the ice cream, fish and potato categories as areas where brands – such as General Mills’ Haagen-Dazs, Young’s , Birds Eye and Aunt Bessie’s – have developed a premium offering by investing in NPD and marketing.

“Retailers could help by embracing the premiumisation of frozen food,” Young said. “Sainsbury’s has moved in this direction with the reorganisation of their frozen aisle and Morrisons is taking some steps to do similar…. Waitrose is actually the fastest growing frozen food retailer. In fact, the only one who has really struggled is Asda, who has focused on price.”