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According to UK consumers, frozen food still suffers from a 'cheap' image

London, 15 October 2012

  • 43% of consumers believe that frozen has a cheap image
  • Given the choice, nearly half of consumers will actively choose chilled products over the frozen alternative

New research from consumer experts Canadean Consumer has revealed that frozen food continues to suffer an image problem among a significant minority of consumers. It would appear that in the mind of some consumers, frozen food is classified in the “convenience bucket.”

The results showed that 43% of consumers believe that frozen food has a cheap image, and 46% consumers would choose fresh food over the frozen equivalent product. Moreover, 38% of consumers believe that chilled food is fresher than frozen food, despite efforts within the frozen food industry to dispel this perception.

Conversely, only 17% disagree that they prefer chilled equivalents, highlighting the difficulty faced by the frozen food industry.

Consumers with a lower social status are more likely to have a favourable perception of frozen food, with 39% thinking it has a “cheap” image (compared to the overall total of 43%). Most interestingly, however, is the difference in perception of freshness by genders:  42% of males believe chilled food is fresher than frozen, compared to just 34% of females.

According to Ed Barham, Research Director at Canadean Consumer, the results show an interesting fact:  “The perceived cheap image of frozen food, the belief by a third of consumers that chilled food is fresher, and the fact that nearly half of consumers would choose the fresh product over the frozen equivalent suggests that modern freezing processes that ensure the freshness and nutrient content of frozen food do not appear to be top-of-mind among consumers.

 “This is a potential issue for the frozen food industry and grocery retailers alike.  For retailers the stock control of frozen products is easier.  By placing an emphasis on premium frozen options, highlighting desirable marketing messages such as “locked in freshness” and explaining the reasons behind the lower cost of frozen products, there is a possibility that more consumers can be attracted to the category.”

Figure 1: Consumers agreeing with statement (% UK respondents) 2012

Consumers agreeing with statement (% UK respondents) 2012

Source: Canadean © Canadean

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