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Frozen food sales outperform market

London, UK:  The food service market may be shrinking but frozen food is still performing well in the market, according to data compiled by Horizons FS.

The number of food service outlets remained static between 2009 and 2010, while the number of meals served fell by 1.2%.  However, caterers and chefs continue to buy frozen ingredients, comprising almost a quarter (22%) of all food purchases.

Horizons said that restaurants were particularly dependent on frozen food, accounting for nearly a third of their total food purchases.

Brian Young, director general of British Frozen Food Federation said: “It has been a really tough couple of years for the eating out sector with the recession forcing many people to cut back on luxuries like dining out of home.  Even when consumers do venture out to eat, the competitive nature of the market has led them to expect more but to pay less.  Unsustainable heavy discounting and offers has made it difficult for outlets to maintain profitability and operators are really feeling the pinch.

“Caterers have recognised how frozen food can help – as it offers a competitive price and a longer shelf life leading to less waste.  Buying in pre-prepared items and complete meals also means that chefs can spend less time in the kitchen.

The data shows an improvement on 2008 figures – when the recession was at its worst – and it is predicted that the value of the eating out market will grow over the next five years.  Mintel estimate that this figure could reach up to £35,960m in 2016.