BFFF--frozen foods deserve a fair crack of the whip.
ADDRESSING 1,000 members and guests, at the BFFF Annual Luncheon, President Howard McEvoy called for moderation on unnecessary low prices and discounts in the multiples retail freezer cabinets.
McEvoy commented on Heinz decision to sell its chilled and frozen businesses and on Unilever's review of the future of its frozen food businesses throughout Western Europe. His view was that when two major branded players, who between them have around 20% of the UK retail market, take such radical actions, then it is important to look at exactly what is going on in the retail frozen food market.
His main thrust was that the price wars between the multiples have brought retail frozen food prices down to a level where many consumers look at the offering and consider that such a low cost product is unlikely to offer satisfaction. Additionally, he claimed that the more aspirational consumers now shy away at the price level alone, without even giving frozen products a chance to impress.
He emphasised that it must be worth sustaining the turnover and profitability of a 3.5 billion [pounds sterling] market sector and suggested that any amount of promotional activity to correct consumer misperceptions was less likely to be really effective with such low prices prevailing.
Offering BFFF as a vehicle for discussion, McEvoy felt that the multiples themselves would actually like to get off the price war merry-go-round, especially as frozen products are now so lowly priced that they are only competing with each other and not with other product sectors, thus rendering the ever lower prices unnecessary. He expressed his conviction that a more considered pricing policy by the multiples would lead to an elevation of quality and raise the esteem of the sector in the eye of the consumer, giving frozen foods the fair crack of the whip they deserve.