Mother and daughter in supermarket near frozen food

Chilled and frozen remain profitable categories for independent retailers, but stores need to get the merchandising right.

Frozen food has shaken off its reputation as being a poor relation to chilled and consequently there has been a renewed focus on innovation and product presentation within the category.
There are also now several merchandising solutions for the chilled category that create a more uniform, appealing display that customers find easier to shop.
Therefore, independent retailers have a range of options available to them to ensure that both their frozen and chilled ranges look their best and meet their full potential for driving sales.
Many retailers have moved away from chest freezers to upright freezers, which offer more options in terms of product presentation and keep the cold in.
This has increased browsing time, which means that how ranges are displayed is of greater importance than ever.
Frozen foods can be difficult to merchandise due to the varying shapes, sizes and types of packaging available.
Pizzas in boxes are relatively straightforward but the likes of bagged vegetables and meat and fish portions are a different matter.
“There are merchandising solutions available now though that can improve the presentation of even the most awkward shaped products in the freezer cabinet,” says Duncan Hill, Managing Director of HL Display. “Our versatile Next cross bar pusher system is the perfect example.”
Next maximises the amount of merchandising space available within the freezer for retailers who want to replace existing shelving. It creates dedicated product lanes so that empty space is minimised. Pushers attach on to a rear cross bar and feed product to the front of the fixture with branding clear and always front facing, key factors for boosting sales.
“Not only does Next improve product presentation and range visibility, it also boosts stock rotation – reducing wastage – and means that freezer cabinets need less attention from store staff to keep displays looking good,” adds Hill. “Therefore, as well as driving sales it reduces costs.”
In addition to Next, HL Display’s Multivo Max shelf management system also brings order to frozen food fixtures while making them easier to keep tidy. This system utilises a combination of wire metal trays, pushers, dividers and fronts to offer a flexible solution that can accommodate a broad range of pack types and sizes and can be retro fitted directly on to the existing shelving.
Multivo Max works in a similar way to Next but can be installed directly on to the shelf and ensures that all products are always front facing to make it easier for customers to find what they are looking for. It also cuts down on the amount of time store staff need to spend managing the frozen aisle – it is easy to install and adapt in line with planogram changes and makes the process of restocking quicker. As products are always front facing there is no need for staff to spend time doing this manually.
“For chilled environments consider a merchandising system that keeps products looking neat on shelf and ensures that prices always match up with the correct variant,” comments Hill. “For example, our Facer pull feeding system is perfect for high maintenance categories like soft drinks and creates and maintains uniform product channels to ensure fixtures look inviting and engaging.”
The system’s width adjustable steel frames – one per facing – are simply placed on shelves to keep each product variant in the correct channel. The frames are hidden behind brandable risers, which also reduce the risk of overfilling and prevent bottles at the front of shelves from falling off.
Coolcheck imports the Arneg, Oscartielle & Koxka refrigeration brands into the UK.
The company has a total of 25,000sq feet of warehouse storage for all of its products, with most cases being delivered within 48 hours.
Coolcheck now delivers refrigeration nationwide to a variety of customers from its base in North Shields, its specialist sector being convenience stores where it has over 30 years of installation experience and has developed a specialist service that can be tailored to suit the needs of all its clients across the country.
“By getting their range right, chilled and frozen can prove a real sales driver for independent retailers, particularly with more shoppers looking for quick meal-time solutions,” comments Laura Sayer, Head of Directs, Costcutter Supermarkets Group.
However, understanding shopper needs is crucial to implementing the right range.
Through its Shopper First Programme, Costcutter has provided retailers with the insights they need to respond to key shopper missions.
“Our experience of using shopper insights for each individual store within our Group has shown that every retailer must decide upon a retail strategy that is unique for their store, their location and their shoppers,” adds Sayer. “This allows retailers to understand what the right offer is for their local shoppers, especially when they are seeking to attract new shoppers into their store.”
Costcutter’s new supply deal with the Co-op has provided a major draw for shoppers, Sayer claims, with the Co-op own brand range of chilled and frozen produce helping Costcutter retailers increase footfall and sales. Coupled with a strong supply chain that is providing a reliable delivery service day in, day out, Costcutter retailers are benefitting from the right range, pricing and promotional offer they need to grow their sales and margin.
“With the demand for quick meal for tonight solutions, chilled and frozen can be a huge driver for sales,” adds Sayer.
A good example of this is Larry Drumm, owner of Costcutter (The Gem), Andersontown, Northern Ireland.
Larry recently extended his chilled section from half a metre to ten metres and now offers a range of chilled pizzas, cooked chickens, ready meals, soups, stews, prepared vegetables and potatoes, as well as a full butchery selection.
He has also introduced a whole host of products from local suppliers, ranging from meat to ice cream, all of which are proving very popular with customers, and since the re-fit, footfall figures have increased by over 70%.
Quick-to-cook
Rustlers, the micro snack brand from Kepak Consumer Foods, is enabling retailers to make more money from the chiller with its range of quick-to-cook flame-grilled burgers.
Rustlers provides the hot option, choice and variety that growing numbers of shoppers are looking for, making the range a must stock for convenience retailers.
As the popularity of sandwiches continues to decline, almost three quarters (74%) of food to go shoppers now buy meat snacks or hot food to go regularly for lunch (WDR & Him!).
Kepak Consumer Foods recommend the Rustlers Quarter Pounder, the bestselling micro-snack in the UK with annual sales of over £5m in the convenience channel (Nielsen), should be core in every store when it comes to offering a hot lunchtime solution. 15 Rustlers Quarter Pounders are sold every minute (Nielsen), making it the No.1 choice for micro-snacking shoppers.
“Lunchtime is the biggest occasion for Rustlers with over 60% of all Rustlers eaten for lunch,” says Monisha Singh, Shopper Marketing Manager at Kepak Consumer Foods.
“The fact that eight out of ten food to go shoppers have a microwave at work, and more than half of all food to go shoppers eat their lunch at their workplace, highlights the pivotal role that Rustlers can play in food to go.”
Thanks to the introduction of the Rustlers All Day Breakfast Sausage Muffin, Rustlers now features in the key consumption occasions of breakfast, lunch and dinner, with a major presence in the important shopper mission of food to go, but also in meal for tonight and top up.
Research also highlights Rustlers’ pulling power in attracting food to go shoppers, with almost two thirds of them (65%) saying they’re more inclined to go stores which stock the category leading brand (WDR & Him!).
Convenience stores which offer hot food to go also generate a higher basket spend, with the average basket spend of a ‘hot’ food to go shopper over 10% more (£4.06) than the average food to go shopper (£3.69) according to HIM!
Rustlers is also enabling retailers to offer an in-store cooking solution with its microwave or food to go unit, both proven to boost sales of micro snacking products without the concerns over waste and the additional labour costs associated with food to go counters.
Ideally, they should be sited next to the front-of-store chiller or with other food to go options, which act as a signpost for shoppers. To maximise visibility, free POS advises shoppers that they can heat up the products in-store after purchase.
The unit is pre-programmed to cook the best-selling Rustlers SKUs, but it can also cook other microwavable products. It comes with a large preparation area and built-in waste bin to keep the surrounding area tidy.
Getting lighter
With over 50 years’ experience in the frozen potato category McCain remains the UK’s largest frozen potato brand. It enjoys a value share of 50% and a volume share of 40% of the frozen category, which is currently worth over £658 million (IRI data to 5 January 2019).
McCain launched Lighter Home Chips this year in response to the growing demand for ‘lighter’ foods, with consumer insight revealing that health and wellness will be a key trend driving consumer buying habits this year (IGD).
McCain Marketing Director, Mark Hodge said: “This is a completely new product for us and the result of three years of development – and we’re delighted with the end result.
“We know that ‘lighter’ foods are becoming increasingly popular, so it’s great that we can now offer consumers Lighter Home Chips – perfect for anyone looking for a lighter alternative without compromising on taste.”
McCain’s Triple Cooked Gastro Chips, have seen a 72.3% value uplift in sales YoY (IRI data to 5 January 2019), whilst the brand’s Sweet Potato Fries have achieved strong growth worth of £6.5m value sales each year.
McCain Home Chips deliver £93m worth of value sales each year (+2.7% val chg yoy) according to IRI data to 5 January 2019. Wanting to make the nation’s favourite chip even better, McCain recently relaunched Home Chips with a brand-new recipe, giving consumers a crispier, fluffier and tastier chip than ever before.
Meat free
As interest in frozen meat free products continues to grow Quorn, is leading the way with a meat free offering that’s already attracting new consumers to the category.
“We’ve developed a core range of five frozen Quorn products specifically for the convenience channel, enabling retailers to drive growth from this crucial category, whilst giving consumers everything they need to make their favourite meals quickly, easily, and meat free,” says Alex Glen, Marketing Director at Quorn Foods UK.
“Meat free is the fastest-growing category in frozen, and Quorn is perfectly placed to act as the beacon brand in-store, enabling retailers to drive sales as part of their ‘meal for tonight’ offering.”
The Quorn frozen range for convenience includes everyday favourites like Quorn Crispy Nuggets, which have been awarded “Netmums Recommends” by the UK’s biggest parenting website; Quorn Burgers and Quorn Sausages, plus Quorn Cottage Pie and Quorn Lasagne ready meals.
“Quorn accounts for 47% of all frozen meat free sales, so it’s important that retailers stock products such as nuggets, burgers and sausages as these make the introduction to meat free really simple and provide meat reducers with a great-tasting dinner for tonight, without having to compromise on their favourite meals,” adds Glen.
In January, Quorn announced that it would be building on fast-growing demand for its frozen core range and strengthening its position as the leading provider of main meal, meat free alternatives with its latest NPD.
Available from early April, Quorn’s Fishless Fillets are available in two variants – Battered Fishless Fillets with a Salt & Vinegar Batter, and Breaded Fishless Fillets with a Lemon Pepper Breadcrumb (200g; rrp £2.99).
The move, which marks the start of a major NPD programme that will run throughout 2019, means Quorn now offers the UK’s biggest range of vegan fishless frozen products, and comes as the growing global population is placing increased demand on our oceans and seas to produce even more fish.
“There’s never been a bigger or better opportunity for convenience retailers to embrace meat free products,” says Glen.
“Not only is meat free the fastest-growing sector in the entire chilled and frozen foods category, more than half of all UK consumers are now reducing their meat consumption as awareness about the environmental impact of people’s dietary choices reaches record levels.
“The introduction of the two new Fishless products means that Quorn is the only UK meat free supplier to provide meat alternatives for the UK’s top 5 family meal occasions, including fish and chips, reinforcing the brand’s mainstream appeal and the No. 1 choice for consumers looking for healthy, great-tasting alternatives to their everyday favourites, while reducing their impact on our planet.”