• Lockdown sees frozen food sales rocket by 30 per cent, with savvy Gen Z recognising better value for money offered by shopping frozen
  • UK first report shows how switching from fresh to frozen can save families up to £1,500 per year
  • As almost half of us are more conscious of wasting food since lockdown, new data shows that switching to frozen from fresh can reduce food waste by 48 per cent
  • Brand new data gives fresh insight on UK attitudes to food and new household shopping habits formed post-lockdown - one in four Brits plan to buy more frozen food from now on

A new study commissioned by frozen food giants Birds Eye and Iceland reveals that the way we shop for groceries looks set to change in the long term. Frozen food has seen a resurgence in popularity, with young adults and families filling their freezers as they shop bigger and less often - boosting sales by 30 per cent. As we think of life after lockdown, is this frozen food trend here to stay?

Iceland and Birds Eye reveal how habits have changed, with the freezer aisle becoming a firm favourite with younger shoppers. Over a quarter (26 per cent) of 18-24-year olds are buying more frozen equivalents of their regular fresh items and almost a third (31 per cent) are trying new frozen foods such as meat substitutes. Generation Z has been paving the way during lockdown and is making frozen fashionable again with 40 per cent of 18-24 year olds stocking up on more healthy frozen options like vegetables, fruit, meat and fish.

But it is not just families and the younger generation turning their attention to frozen, as a third (33 per cent) of all UK shoppers are using their freezer more efficiently and a further one in five (21 per cent) are including more frozen foods in their cooking. The stats indicate this could be a long-term trend as almost a quarter (24 per cent) plan to continue buying more frozen food after lockdown.   

When it comes to why shoppers are re-igniting their love for frozen, the cost saving potential of frozen over fresh has been a huge driving force. One in five (21 per cent) have noticed how frozen items can be better value for money than fresh, and 17 per cent agree they can get far more for their money from shopping frozen.

New data from a previously unreleased study by Manchester Metropolitan University, which analysed the financial impact of families eating fresh and frozen food, found that frozen offers around a 30 per cent saving in comparison to fresh; and the average family could save a whopping £1,500 a year by incorporating more frozen food into their food shops. With over a third (34 per cent) of shoppers planning to tighten their purse strings when it comes to food shopping after lockdown, frozen food looks like it is set to be a regular fixture on the nation’s shopping lists.

Iona Bain, founder of Young Money and personal finance writer, says: “One silver lining from lockdown is that we’re seeing a new generation of savvy shoppers who are making huge savings on their weekly food shop – often just by swapping to frozen. For the average family, potential savings of £1,500 from this strategy could be a game changer, opening up opportunities that will boost their spending and saving power, whether that’s a bigger future holiday budget to more wiggle-room for home improvements. It’s particularly heartening to see younger shoppers discovering the benefits of frozen, not just because they’re saving money but also wasting far less food in the process.”

Further research commissioned before lockdown by the partnership, which took a deep dive into consumer shopping habits, found that over £188 million worth of food was wasted nationwide each week - and for every £1 spent at the till, more than 15p was money down the drain due to the amount of fresh food thrown away. 85 per cent of consumers expressed a desire to reduce their household food waste, but a quarter of those admitted to not knowing where to start.

But it seems that lockdown has given shoppers the time to reflect, with 47 per cent of those polled expressing they are far more conscious of the food that their household is wasting since March, with the figure rising to over half (54 per cent) of 18 – 24-year olds. When asked why, the top reasons were becoming more aware on what they are spending on food (48 per cent), avoiding unnecessary trips to the shop (44 per cent) and being more conscious of the food that is being wasted collectively (39 per cent).

When it comes to food and shopping habits, the resilience and adaptability of British shoppers has led them to find the silver lining. Over a third (34 per cent) plan to be more considerate with their money, 19 per cent have become more adventurous with their cooking and a quarter (25 per cent) are spending more mealtimes together as a family.  

Saving money by switching from fresh to frozen, does not mean compromising on health, in fact, a quarter (25 per cent) of shoppers have eaten more frozen vegetables in lockdown than they did before, with peas, sweetcorn, carrots and broccoli taking pride of place in freezers. 14 per cent have even increased their vegetable intake during the lockdown months thanks to the convenience of frozen, with the number rising to 17 per cent for 18 – 24 year olds; an age bracket traditionally known as being less likely than other adults to get their five-a-day. 

Steve Challouma, General Manager UK at Birds Eye said: “It’s clear that whilst lockdown has brought many different challenges, new frozen shopping habits have emerged to help us save money and reduce food waste, whilst still enabling us to enjoy great quality and delicious food. The research also shows that many of us are making healthy food choices and adding more goodness to our diet – with shoppers actively buying more frozen vegetables.

“We’re excited to see shoppers discovering the many benefits of frozen food including the interesting and tasty products on offer, and how they can be enjoyed on their own or used in creating delicious recipes. As households become even more conscious of their spending, we expect this behaviour to continue.”  

Richard Walker, Managing Director at Iceland said: “We’ve been passionate about the benefits of frozen food for decades, and frozen has never been more relevant than today. Many families have taken positive learnings from lockdown, and we recognise that families are looking to reduce both their household spending and food waste more than ever before. We believe that simple switches to frozen food can help to make a real difference, without any need to compromise on taste or quality.

“The recent findings highlight the positive role frozen food can play, and we look forward to inspiring more and more families to make the switch to frozen as a permanent change.”