History of frozen food
The first frozen food was developed by Birds Eye and appeared in the shops in 1939. The market grew at a rapid pace following this, with a huge range of products being developed.
The increasing availability of a quickly expanding range of frozen food challenged people's perceptions in terms of food preservation, but it was an easy transition for families to make when technological developments in the 1970s made freezers cheaper and more readily available to all.
Many people chose to buy a chest freezer as these were larger and more efficient than the early upright freezers. They were also more beneficial to large families as they had a much greater storage capacity.
With the emergence of fitted kitchens in new housing developments of the mid 70s, freezers had to be made smaller in order to fit into the kitchen. Moving the freezer out of the garage into the kitchen demonstrates how important frozen food had become.
A frozen food revolution
On the back of this new evolving customer demand, Iceland was established and opened its first store in Oswestry in 1970. This revolutionary store sold loose frozen products and in just over 10 years grew to a nationwide chain of 75 stores.
There was also an increase in numbers of supermarkets throughout the 70s, which enabled people to buy frozen food at any time and consumer demand increased due to several factors:
- People could store food for long periods of time without losing flavour or nutritional value.
- They could buy in bulk.
- Frozen products were more readily available.
Furthering still the nation's growing love affair with frozen food, the ownership of microwave ovens in the late 80s also became more and more widespread, enabling frozen foods to be cooked quickly and often without the need to defrost first.
That same period saw a great deal of product innovation, including the launch of ethnic foods, healthy eating ranges and frozen snacks, with many being developed specifically for the children's market.
Lifestyle changes have also been a major factor in the boom in frozen convenience foods, especially those aimed at children. The strongest growth period for the sector was during the 1980s and early 90s due to several social conditions, primarily the growing numbers in working women, which increased the demand for convenience food as they had far less time to spend in the kitchen.
Therefore manufacturers and retailers have developed ranges that mirror the changes in customer requirement. Quick, convenient food that is acceptable to both children and adults is in high demand. Frozen food is now an important part of a family's diet and the freezer frequently acts as a 'children's larder', stocked up with frozen vegetables, fish products, ready meals, pizza and ice cream.
Read more about the history of frozen food in the UK.