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Slow growth for frozen fruits, vegetables in Denmark as fair weather boosts produce.

Slow Growth for Frozen Fruits, Vegetables In Denmark as Fair Weather Boosts Produce

Good weather and changing consumer habits have stalled growth for packers of frozen fruit and vegetables in Denmark. While an abundant harvest has kept raw material prices down, the surplus has also stimulated sales of fresh produce. Green grocers and supermarkets have been featuring fruits and vegetables at low prices ever since last spring.

Overall consumption in Denmark has been on the decline for nearly two years, but retailers did not start to feel the crunch until around mid-1988 when a frugality trend actually became evident to the general public. Shoppers looking to pinch pennies have found that buying fresh produce has provided some savings for them.

Vegetables have always been, and will continue to be, the heavyweight of the national FF industry, advised Torben Carlsson of the Danish Frozen Food Institute, whose statistics for 1988 have yet to be released. Although sales of frozen vegetable packs have stagnated a bit, vegetables have become a main component of a FF industry star--ready meals. "We've gone from vegetable products as entities, peas, carrots or mixes, to ready-meals," said Benny Hansen of Svendborg Konservesfabrick. "It's happening now and I think you will see more in the future, going away from the simple toward more sophisticated products. Ready meals have gained great popularity and a lot of vegetables go into these. For instance: all vegetables dishes, or a vegetable/pasta mix, more complicated products."

Hansen confirmed that crops were good last season, but added that the savings gained from surplus pricing was neutralized by other factors-the course of the dollar for one. Fresh produce sales have negatively affected their sales, but Hansen reported no real fluctuations.

In recent years, Svendborg has gone from plastic bags to a three-layer laminated aluminum type of packaging for its vegetables, as the latter provides better protection against moisture, odor and light. Packaging for microwave oven preparation will find a more prominent place on their lines in the future. "Development of microwaveable products has not been so strong in Denmark," Hansen said. "But now that the excise tax on microwaves has been lowered, sales ought to be stimulated. Up until now people have been reluctant to invest in microwave ovens."

More than a year ago, authorities reduced taxes on many electric appliances, but not microwaves. Hence units purchased in Denmark were among the most expensive in the world. The Danish government recently reduced excises on electric goods, this time to get price levels closer to those of other EEC countries and to curb border trading. "Products and marketing will be aligned to fit new patterns of consumption," Hansen told Quick Frozen Foods International.

Another major processor of frozen vegetables, Frigodan, reflects the hesitance many are showing when it comes to microwaves: it does not produce any FF that are strictly designed for the appliances.

"We're concentrating our efforts on what we call `pan meals,' dishes that can be poured, frozen from the package onto a pan and served in four or five minutes," said Arne Fogholt of Frigodan's marketing department. "Also, we produce goods on the more expensive end of the scale, and so far this year the results have been satisfying. Pirates may come into the market with low quality goods at dumping prices, and consumers may buy them--once. But they are generally not satisfied with imports. Consumers tend toward more expensive things."

Falster Frost has specialized in packing frozen vegetables for years. The company recently acquired Premier Dybfrost, and has now entered the retail end of the FF industry. They handle only vegetables, mixed and rice/vegetable mixes.

Christian Haldan talked about the pea shortage: "There have not been enough peas this year, and I believe the situation is the same throughout Europe. Our customers forsaw the shortage and bought accordingly. The levels we now have in mid-February are what they normally are around the beginning of May. Peas sold out fast. There are a lot of root fruits, celery root, carrots, leeks, and the like, so we hope customers and consumers will choose them in place of peas."
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Title Annotation:includes related article on Figodan company takeover
Author:Ferro, Charles
Publication:Quick Frozen Foods International
Date:Apr 1, 1989
Previous Article:Italian market remains conservative when it comes to frozen vegetables.
Next Article:Brazilian rains, more Japanese imports brighten frozen OJ industry's future.

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