by Cotswold Fayre Ltd
Oct 25th, 2023
4 mins

Back in 1999 when Paul Hargreaves founded Cotswold Fayre, the frozen category within the independent sector was viewed with some disdain. The largest frozen retailer, Iceland, had a reputation for a low-quality frozen offering and lowered the status of the category. (More than two decades later, the Iceland offer is now much better quality than it was.) The perception amongst the public was that chilled was better quality, fresher and more suitable for independent retailers to stock in their stores.

To some extent at Cotswold Fayre, we agreed with this and launched our first chilled range in 2016 after 17 years of only selling ambient products. And ‘chilled’ has been a great success for us over the past few years. However, it does seem that over the last couple of years, frozen is becoming the new ‘fresh’ with large amounts of innovation in the category.

Many brands, for example Crosta and Mollica and Squeaky Bean, which, up until recently, have only included ambient and chilled products have launched frozen ranges. It also seems that the Cost-of-Living Crisis has resulted in a spurt of growth in frozen, with NielsenIQ reporting in January 2023, frozen sales across all UK grocery sectors were up by almost 9% year on year. All the main retailers have reported an upsurge in frozen sales and frozen food retailer, Cook, reported in The Grocer that at Easter 2023, its sales were 24% up on the previous year. And Cook have been one of the main reasons that frozen is now perceived as being premium as they have rolled out into farm shops, food halls and premium convenience stores across the UK.

With perhaps fewer people eating out at restaurants during 2023, now may be the time to offer a high-quality frozen offering, yet, from our customer research, one of the barriers to entry is the high minimum order from many frozen producers. Retailers want to order a variety of frozen brands without ordering loads from any one supplier, so to make life easier for retailers, Cotswold Fayre has launched a frozen range with the ability to consolidate a growing offering of premium frozen products and deliver anywhere on mainland UK. So maybe it’s time to look again at frozen and beat the Cost of Living Crisis.


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