Frozen assets

Despite a bias towards ambient and chilled products, the savoury frozen sector is holding its own. Chilled products are perceived as fresher and therefore better, but the frozen category is resisting this trend and focusing on quick, easy and health meals.

Meanwhile the ice cream category is following the trends in the confectionery sector with a focus on both healthy and indulgent products.

Sweet

According to Mintel, families are key buyers in the ice cream market, with children in the household being a major determinant in increasing participation. As a result suppliers have sought to introduce products with both child and parent appeal, including brands revived from the 1970s, and products with a healthier eating profile. However, the decline in the child population has also encouraged a stronger focus on adult product development over the past couple of years.

According to Fredericks Dairies, the total UK ice cream market is worth pound;1.3bn and Fredericks holds a 9.5% share of the take home market with value of over pound;58m and growing at 24% year on year.

Fredericks Dairies produces ice cream tub products under both the Cadbury and Del Monte licenses and numerous private label contracts.

Del Monte Fruit Burst tubs are new desserts from Del Monte with real fruit pieces in Peach Raspberry Iced Dessert with Raspberry Sauce Peach Pieces and Mango Pineapple Iced Dessert with Tropical Sauce Pineapple Pieces. The Fruit Burst tubs will be the first sharing product to join the Del Monte ices portfolio and boast the strong fruit credentials of the Del Monte brand, which appeals to health conscious consumers.

A new Blackcurrant Apple variant will join the Fruitini ices range, containing 60% real fruit juice which, according to Fredericks Dairies, makes it the highest fruit juice content kids lolly on the market by far.

In its Cadbury range Fredericks has Cadbury Flake 99 Classic Raspberry Cone, Cadbury Chunky Choc Ice and Cadbury Creme Egg ice cream bar. All the Cadbury ice creams feature real Cadbury’s chocolate and Fredericks says the Cadbury Chunky Choc Ice has more chocolate than any other brand of choc ice on the market.

David Taylor, sales and marketing director of Frederick Dairies, says that the products do well, it is just a case of wholesalers stocking them. He advised being open to new ideas, understanding the trends, focusing on core lines and keeping the range tight.

According to Unilever, in 2006 the UK ice cream market experienced great success and has grown at a steady 3.5% a year.

Al Wilson, Wall’s category operations manager, says: “Our vision for 2007 is to increase frequency of purchase by moving the category away from being seasonal to being enjoyed all year round.”

Wall’s will inject pound;25m overall investment into the category while supporting its entire portfolio, which includes Magnum, Carte D’Or, Cornetto and Solero.

Anuj Lal, ice cream business director at Unilever UK, says: “Despite the nation’s love of ice cream, consumer perception has historically been that of a treat product. We aim to change consumer perceptions and drive frequency of consumption through repositioning the category from a sweet treat to a more wholesome pleasure food.”

Unilever is using the Wall’s heart to give the range a visual identity with the heart under the themes Love Milk, Love Fruit and Love Chocolate, linking to the overall message of Love Ice Cream.

Wilson says: “The wholesale channel represents almost half of sales for Unilever UK and is a very important part of our business. Retailers need to ensure that ice cream availability is maintained with a focus on the best selling lines throughout the season.”

Masterfoods’ 2007 ice cream portfolio will benefit from a pound;3.6m marketing spend covering a comprehensive campaign.

The latest addition to the range is the Twix Xtra ice cream bar which joins Mars and Snickers bars in the impulse market. Another addition is Milky Way ice cream bars, available in a six-pack multipacks.

Laura Sheard, ice cream brand manager of Masterfoods, says: “2007 is an exciting year for Masterfoods ice cream, and we hope to build on our successes of 2006.

“With our now strengthened range of well-established consumer favourites, and continued support for retailers, we can look forward to an exciting year ahead.”

Andrea Taylor, trade relations manager of Masterfoods, says: “Last year Masterfoods invested in an increase in ‘feet on the street’ within the independent and convenience channels. In 2006 Masterfoods experienced a 25% increase in distribution points as a result of the ‘feet on the street’ drive. In addition to talking to store owners about merchandising the ice cream category, ice cream deals will be offered and they will be placing new POS in store.

“Our aim is to provide support and commitment to the independent retailer and essentially help them maximise their ice cream sales.”

Richmond is responsible for the manufacture of all of Nestl eacute;’s ice cream and ice lolly variants in the UK.

The company has two new additions to its Nestl eacute; tubs range, Fab and Milkybar, which join Smarties, Rolo and After Eight.

Clare McIntosh, marketing manager of Richmond, says: “These two new additions to our range of Nestl eacute; Premium Tubs will generate incremental sales as they target a gap in the market. Fab is already the UK’s number one ice lolly, currently worth pound;15m in annual sales, and the new tub will offer the ‘3 in 1′ fun formula in ice cream format. Milkybar is another favourite among consumers and now they can enjoy everything they love about Milkybar as a dessert option.”

Richmond has built on the successful launch of Quality Street by launching the Big Purple One, The Big Green Triangle and the Big Orange Crunch. Richmond is providing branded POS for the impulse channel including flags, parasols, bins, pavement signs and freezer stickers for a number of brands including Quality Street, Fab and Smarties.

McIntosh adds: “The impulse market is all about stocking up, and retailers need to ensure their freezers are fully stocked with brands people recognise and are familiar with.”

Savoury

James Gentle, marketing manager of Hain Celestial, says: “Overall sales decline and concern with health issues within the frozen food category are important issues for us. The frozen sector is struggling, due to a lack of innovation within the category and manufacturers focusing on value-engineering rather than the quality of products on offer.”

Last month saw a pound;1m re-launch of the Linda McCartney range, with new products being added to the range and new and natural ingredients across the portfolio.

Gentle says: “The key focus for us is taste. Consumers are still connecting ‘healthy foods’ with ‘lower taste’, so it’s been our mission to create a range of meat-free foods which really deliver on taste, and they’re made with natural ingredients too.”

Andrew Foster, business manager of Hain Celestial, says that the market for meat free products is growing and as Linda McCartney is a well established brand he advises wholesalers to get behind the new range and products.

Fiona O’Keeffe, senior brand manager for Goodfella’s of Northern Foods Frozen, says: “As the market leaders in frozen, we are committed to growing the category and attracting consumers back into frozen pizza.”

The brand is currently celebrating the success of Goodfella’s Deeply Delicious which, according to Goodfella’s, has become the number one brand in the overall frozen pizza category. The other brands, Delicia, Solos and La Bottega are also currently number ones in their sub-sectors. Solos in particular has been the most successful launch, beating year three share predictions in its first year of launch.

O’Keeffe says: “We put the success of Solos down to the brand’s relevance to today’s consumer who demands quality and will not sacrifice taste for convenience. Solos delivers against three consumer needs; choice, quality and convenience.”

Paul Booth commercial controller of Northern Foods Frozen, says: “A lot of effort goes into selling a brand across the trade in independents and convenience stores. Wholesalers offer a regular promotional calendar for the main product. Stocking key lines and best sellers, supporting this with price lists and leaflets. Frozen food is a difficult area but better signage, POS and ranging would help.

“Brands have universal appeal. Consumers know that they can buy them at the same value across the trade.”

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