COVID hasn’t cooled the chilled food market

CFA has released 2020 market data commissioned from Kantar, charting sales of chilled foods ranging from prepared produce to chilled cake. The market has not been immune to the effects of the pandemic with most consumers compelled to change their work and home life patterns. The statistics reflect the massive upheaval experienced by the UK, with fluctuations across almost all categories. However, the overall market remains strong and is now worth almost £13.5bn, up by 4.1 percent on 2019.

With many offices and workplaces closed, classic office lunchtime foods such as ready-made sandwiches, rolls, and baguettes predictably took the biggest hit – seeing sales drop by 38.6 per cent on the previous year. Wraps also saw a major drop – 42 per cent year-on-year, and there was reduced appetite for mixed tray salads, down by 23 per cent on 2019.

Chilled ready meals continued to be strong, going up by seven percent, perhaps due to people keen to enjoy easy to prepare meals with eating out options not possible. Vegetarian chilled food saw the largest increase – with sales up by 26 percent to £155m.  Prepared fish was also up (by almost 14 percent) again reflecting a need for ‘special occasion’ meals cooked at home. And to round off a dine in at home experience chilled dessert sales were also up by 8 percent.

CFA director Karin Goodburn comments: “The market data acts as a barometer, showing us how food shopping habits have reacted to COVID over the last 12 months. With the industry facing unprecedented changes it’s heartening to see that the market in chilled is still strong. Only cakes didn’t have an appreciable change, presumably because not everyone started baking (i.e. buying flour, eggs, etc) but everyone still wanted to enjoy a sweet treat.” Full market data can be found here on this website.

15 April 2021