Nuggets about chilled food, and the industry that produces it, to chew over.

It’s fresh –

• chilled prepared foods are not kept fresh using preservatives – they rely instead on being kept chilled

• most chilled prepared foods are made on the day of despatch to the retailer

It’s local –

• virtually all chilled prepared foods are made in the UK

It’s made by experts – 

• The production of chilled prepared foods requires substantial technical competence and maintenance of high standards

• CFA members employ 1,000 scientists

It’s good for employment – 

• Some 25 companies comprise the major producers and employ 60,000 people in the UK, in roles ranging from product development to engineering

It’s crucial to the economy – 

• The UK’s retail chilled prepared food market is worth >£9bn pa and represents some 13% of the retail food market

• High quality food that’s easy to prepare saves time and fuels the nation

It’s been around for over forty years, is growing and very relevant to our future –

• Chilled food has been available since the 1960s. The first modern chilled food products were coleslaw and potato salad, then in the 1980s ready meals started to appear, the first being cottage pie

• The market is still growing at 5% pa

• To quote one CFA member, the chilled food manufacturing industry ‘will probably be one of the last remaining manufacturing industries in the UK’

• There is, owing to the sector’s growth, a critical need for the more food scientists/technologists to be trained and brought into the industry

It’s part of almost all our lives, and you might not even realise it –

• The chilled food industry makes 12,000 different foods, mostly every day. From fresh soups and pasta to ready made sandwiches and prepared salads chilled foods can be found on our tables and in most people’s lunch boxes and fridges.

• In 2004, over 80% of UK households bought a chilled ready meal with over 40% buying one within any given month (Source TNS 2005).

• Nearly all (more than 95%) of chilled prepared foods are sold under the retailer’s brand.

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Chilled statistics for the solstice

Seasonal Statistics from CFA

As the countdown to the end of 2011 begins CFA marks the turning of the year with a quick look back, in numbers:

One Association representing:

19 Members with 100 Sites making 8,000 different chilled prepared foods, employing 45,000people, supplying the UK’s >£9.1bn market, with 101% market growth from 1999-2010.

And as it grows the sector continues to improve its sustainability:

22.3% reduction in sector’s energy intensity 2010 vs 1999
24.2% reduction in water use/tonne food 2010 vs 2008
42.6% reduction in food waste/tonne 2010 vs 2008
84% of food waste diverted from landfill in 2010

This year saw CFA reaching out to the next generation of chilled food professionals with

students sponsored by CFA at Nottingham University Food Science Summer School (will be increased to 10 in 2012)
Design & Technology Association (D&TA) teacher trainers engaged and training
20 CFA STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Maths) Ambassadors signed up so far
24 free NPD/taste/hygiene lesson plans developed – 12 for teachers12 for CFA members
500 Glo-germ hand wash training kits donated to schools & members (250 more ordered)
>1,800 referrals to CFA’s teacher lesson plans from the TES website
6,000+ teachers, education experts and organisations reading about Chilled Education in D&TA publications
8,000 chilled careers leaflets distributed to teachers & members (10,000 more ready for 2012)
10,000 CFA LCD fridge thermometers distributed to schools & members (20,000 more for 2012)

We’ve even more chilled bites!

Getting Children Skilled in Chilled (12 September 2011)

The predicted skills shortage in the rapidly-expanding chilled food manufacturing industry has prompted the Chilled Food Association (CFA) to take action by tackling the issue at classroom level, with a unique set of resources, developed by teachers and industry specialists.

Available online from today (12 September) is a comprehensive set of lesson plans and supporting material for CFA members’ use with children aged 5 to 16. By bringing industry professionals and young inquiring minds together CFA hopes to inform, educate and inspire children in all areas of the dynamic and diverse chilled food sector.

The site also carries careers information including interviews with recent graduates now working in the chilled sector and more than 30 real job descriptions.

CFA members and teachers will also be able to use a range of free resources to make the lessons lively and informative. CFA is providing 10,000 fridge thermometers and 500 innovative Glo-Germ kits, which memorably illustrate the importance of proper hand washing, to light-hearted videos that make serious points about correct handling of chilled foods. And lessons will cover every aspect of chilled food production from new product development to packaging and marketing.

The resources for teachers also being launched today at have been developed by the Design and Technology Association; they will help get the lessons into schools across the UK through their UK-wide network of over 6,000 design and technology teachers.

CFA is also providing STEM Ambassadors, whose network of 28,000 volunteers from the science and technology industries work with young people, to inspire interest in the STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and maths).

Kaarin Goodburn, CFA Secretary General is keen for as many schools as possible to benefit from Chilled Education: “The chilled food industry is the UK’s fastest growing retail food sector and so most likely to suffer from the shortage of food science graduates. We also know that young people’s perceptions of working in the food industry are not very positive, but their preconceptions around pay and working conditions are unfounded. By working with children from a young age we want to inspire them, spark their curiosity in food and show them how relevant and attractive the chilled food industry is. We believe our initiative will be a significant contribution to the governments Skills Action Plan for the Food Supply Chain.”

Alison Robertson, CFA Chairman and Technical Director of Daniels Chilled Foods believes Chilled Education will give young people a real insight into the industry: “I have first-hand experience of both the rewards and demands of this fast-moving industry. Currently one of the most pressing of those demands is in the recruitment of techncial staff where many posts are difficult to fill. So, as we look to create a sustainable future we need to get youngsters interested and engaged at an early age. By working with schools to bring the chilled food industry right into the classroom we aim to address this, and the fresh approach we are taking reflects both the dynamism of our sector and the great variety of chilled foods. I am looking forward to geting out there to meet and inspire our future chilled food professionals. Chilled Education has been well received by the industry, receiving the support of the Science Council, the Association for Science Education and the Institute of Food Science and Technology.”

Bob Martin of the Food Standards Agency said: “We welcome the launch of the Chilled Education website as a resource that can help people to understand what is involved in making chilled foods safely, as well as providing useful information about key food safety subjects.”

Chilled Education is part of CFA.


The lesson plans for teachers have been developed by CFA in partnership with the Design and Technology (D&T) Association, the professional association representing those involved in design and technology education and associated subject areas (

Chilled Education’s lesson plans were developed with InspireEducation