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Frozen growth strong in 6 EEC countries, but in Britain chilled foods are much hotter.

While the overall trend line for growth in frozen food consumption in Europe remains positive, steady advances in the chilled foods sector in the United Kingdom are clearly eating into QFF sales in the EEC's leading market for such products. These were among the messages delivered to The Refrigeration Research Foundation (TRRF) during its annual meeting held recently in Tucson, Arizona, USA.

Dramatic rises in frozen food consumption over the 1987-91 period took place in at least six European countries, reported Per-Oskar Persson of Sweden. He pointed to especially strong performances in Germany (+41% to just under 1.8 million tons), France (+31% to over 1.4 million tons), Spain (+32% with tonnage nearing 600,000), Italy (+29% to a tad over 400,000 tons), Denmark (+32% to over 200,000 tons), and Austria (+38% to top 100,000 tons).

Citing statistics from AGA Frigoscandia, Persson put consumption of frozens within the EEC and EFTA countries at 7.7 million tons annually. The total rises to 8.5 million tons if Russia, Belorussia, Ukraine and Hungary are included. The former figure amounts to about 60% of the estimated consumption in the United States, where per capita intake in 52 kilos. Danes, who eat 44 kilos per annum, have the healthiest appetite for frozens among Europeans. On the low end, Italians consume less than eight kilos.

While the United Kingdom remains the leading market for frozen foods (over 1.9 million tons were consumed in 1991) in the EEC, it posted a growth rate of only 14% from 1987-91, or under 3% per annum. Compared to the 30%-plus gains achieved by five countries on the Continent during the five-year period, the UK performance may be described as mediocre at best.

David Arthey of the Campden Food and Drink Research Association, Glos., England, pointed to the gains made by refrigerated foods manufacturers during the same time frame as at least partially responsible for the slowdown in QFF expansion.

"All the indications suggest that the chilled foods market in the UK will continue to be one of the fastest growing sectors of the food industry. It has continued to bring pressure on the frozen food market, which up until a year ago was considered to be recession proof," he told the TRRF Scientific Advisory Council in Tucson.

Growth in the value of chilled foods has been approximately 12.6% annually over the past five years, said Arthey. Citing Datamonitor figures, he listed individual sector expansion during that time as follows: ready meals, 17.63%; sliced meat, 6.32%; salads, 17.14%; desserts, 25.83%.

"The Economist Intelligence Unit Market Report claims that some of the most dynamic sectors are added-value products such as ready meals, prepared salads, pizza and pasta," said Arthey, "although Datamonitor states that chilled desserts are forecast to grow by 70% in value by 1997. Chilled meat will probably continue to show the slowest growth over the next five years."

As for share, Chamabourcy leads the UK chilled foods market with 33% of sales by value. Marks & Spencer is the top private label in the field with a 23.5% share.

Shearway Completes Plant, Rolls Out New Products

Shearway Foods Ltd., Headcorn, Kent, UK, is taking on an industry dominated by private label by opening a new plant for branded frozen fruit and vegetable products and coming out with seven more specialty items.

The new |pounds~3 million factory, totaling 6,500 square feet, includes not only a processing area but a 4,000-pallet capacity cold store, developmental kitchens, a quality assurance lab and staff facilities. Its four processing lines have a total annual capacity of more than 16,000 tons.

New products in the Shearway range include:

* Sugar snap peas, in 450-gram polybags to retail at around 169p.

* Chinese and Indian rice. Both stir-fry items are available in 450-gram polybags, with a retail price of about 89p. Chinese rice is seasoned with peas, onion, red peppers, bean sprouts and water chestnuts; Indian rice with onion, courgettes, red peppers and sultanas.

* Mixed vegetables (carrots, peas, cut beans, sweet corn and broad beans) in 900-gram freezer packs.

* Country vegetables (sliced carrots, cut beans, broccoli and cauliflower), same pack.

* Casserole vegetables (carrots, swede, turnip, whole onions and cut celery), same pack at about 85p.

* Whole strawberries in metallized film, without any added sugar.
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Title Annotation:European Economic Community's frozen food industry
Publication:Quick Frozen Foods International
Date:Jul 1, 1993
Previous Article:Having survived the recession intact, UK frozen food marketers look ahead.
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