September 27, 2008

Frozen Food Success for Grimsby’s Seafood Giant

By David Laister

Grimsby's biggest company is heralding a new ice age as we head back to the freezer for our food.

Seafood giant Young's has reported a staggering 20 per cent year- on-year growth in frozen product sales, with the whole industry up 10 per cent.

It comes as shoppers realise the value-for-money benefits the freezer offers for healthy, convenient eating in an increasingly frosty economic climate.

The success is great news for the town where virtually all of the frozen sector processing is done by a 2,000-strong team. They are responsible for the likes of Admiral's Pie - the UK's biggest selling ready meal which is eaten every four seconds.

Nationally nearly one-million new households are buying frozen fish, and with the Grimsby-based pounds262-million brand prospering as the market leader.

Managing director at Young's, Jim Cane, said: "We have never seen such growth. For a brand of this size to grow at 20 per cent, you just do not expect it, and it is great news for Grimsby. Some of the factories are bursting at the seems - we are working flat out at most of the Grimsby facilities and finding ways to put more capacity in."

And the analysis of the trend within the town's iconic Ross House has found that the most natural preservation technique for the healthiest of foods, twinned with the savings passed on at the tills because of lower logistics costs, is proving a powerful combination.

Mr Cane said: "Consumers have constantly been thinking that fresh is better than frozen, then suddenly - probably driven by value because people are feeling that they haven't got as much money - they are re-appraising frozen and coming back into the market. There they are finding some great products that were not available 10 years ago, and the pricing is dramatically different to chilled."

Frozen products remove the increasingly costly daily supply chain to the major multiple retailers, while aiding the control of the likes of Omega 3 and other health benefits.

Looking ahead, Mr Cane said: "We are very upbeat about the future of frozen in the UK. The market is showing consistent growth and the message is getting across about the intrinsic benefits of frozen as an entirely natural and sensible way to preserve the best qualities of food.

"Naturalness and health will be the key drivers. Our own seafood sector is a perfect example of this - plain natural fish is now the fastest growing sector in our category. People are increasingly returning to the freezer as a 'larder' for quality ingredients - with less waste. All this is great news for continued growth.

"Our success has created a real buzz around the place but we're not sitting on our laurels. We've got some major initiatives lined up for the autumn, including some brilliant new products."

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