In the absence of a freeze on food prices, the freezer aisle itself is attracting new customers. Rosie Greenaway explores how having a small amount of freezer – and fridge – space in store can help health food retailers bolster their already vibrant food offer
In December 2022 the boss of Tesco told the BBC that shoppers were switching from fresh to frozen foods in their droves in an attempt to lessen the impact of the cost of living crisis which is increasingly eating into household grocery budgets.
With food prices rising at the fastest rate for 45 years, Tesco chief executive Ken Murphy said the supermarket giant had observed a shift in the shopping habits of its regular customers who were moving their spend from fridge to freezer.
He cited frozen meat as an example, reporting that it was selling in larger volumes than its fresh equivalent: looking at turkeys alone, over Christmas 2022 Tesco sold double the number of frozen birds than in 2019. Frozen veg is gaining popularity too, with consumers turning to it for a longer shelf life. And in 2021, Tesco’s website tracked a 40% spike in sales of frozen desserts.
Frozen food also hit the news last month when the Office for National Statistics reported that frozen berries had made it into the so-called ‘inflation basket’, as the ingredients of smoothie-loving, clean-living consumers were added to the list of goods used to calculate cost of living increases.
Match made in heaven
All this press is good news for the frozen foods sector, and especially good news for newcomers like Pukpip – the frozen fruit brand set to disrupt the ice cream market with its Real Frozen Bananas Dipped in Chocolate, pitched as ‘nature’s alternative to ice cream’ and already popular in the US.
The brand’s ‘love taste, not waste’ ethos sees it working with fruit which has been rejected for export; Pukpip dips fresh, whole, creamy, ‘perfectly imperfect’, responsibly sourced bananas in a thick layer of smooth milk, dark (Vegan certified) or white chocolate before freezing it, ‘locking in that wholesome goodness’.
The HFSS-compliant finished product is a delicious, fibre-filled fruit dessert which is healthy yet feels like a treat. Pukpip says the product is ‘aimed squarely at the millennial female, with or without children, looking to find balance with healthier snacks and desserts for themselves and their families’ – but it would appeal to a wide range of health store shoppers.
“With tighter HFSS regulation we’re giving retailers more opportunities to stock healthier … options for consumers which still prioritize taste. We want to give consumers the best of both worlds: an easy way to enjoy more fruit and indulge in a permissible chocolate treat, enabling them to feel good about their choices,” comments Zara Gugen, managing director.
To further reduce waste, the brand came up with a use for the skins too, working with farmers in Ecuador to upcycle the fruit’s peel back into the ecosystem.
The root of Pukpip’s concept lies within Gugen’s childhood, when her mother would make chocolate-dipped frozen bananas at home for her to snack on. “I always remember rushing home after school just so I could eat one.” The name itself is made up of two parts: ‘puk’ from pukka, meaning real or good; and ‘pip’ relating to the seeds from which the fruit grows. “It’s a name that reflects the happy, sustainable origins of our bananas, and we like how it pops when you say it too!”
Gugen recognizes that modern life can make squeezing in adequate fruit and veg each day a challenge – not to mention the fact that, sometimes, it’s not quite what you’re craving. Pukpip occupies that space between the fruit bowl and the biscuit tin – a middle ground where taste and health collaborate. “Let’s be honest, when it’s go, go, go and you need a little pick-me-up, sometimes a plain old slice of fruit doesn’t quite cut it. At Pukpip we want to help consumers eat more fruit in fun, delicious and convenient ways. With consumers snacking more and being more health conscious than ever, we want to make it that little bit easier to feel good about treating yourself, while eating more fruit. Now you really can indulge in real fruit.”
And why bananas? Because they’ve always been ‘one of the UK’s favourite fruits’, says Gugen, who ‘simply combined two of the nation’s favourite snacks with just the right balance of goodness and indulgence’: “Chocolate and banana – no added stuff.”
We all scream for ice cream
There’s a reason why our love of ice cream follows us from childhood into adulthood: it’s the OG of the treat world. Ice cream feels like a mark of celebration, a comfort during times of distress, an expression of summer, a playful indulgence to be savoured before it melts and hits the pavement.
The Ice Cream Alliance believes we have China’s Tang dynasty to thank for this unmatched invention: “The earliest evidence of anything approaching ice cream being made was in … AD 618-907. Buffalo, cows’ and goats’ milk was heated and allowed to ferment. This ‘yoghurt’ was then mixed with flour for thickening, camphor (yes, camphor!) for flavour and ‘refrigerated’ before being served. King Tang of Shang had a staff of 2,271 people which included 94 ‘ice men’.”
Luckily for today’s ice cream lovers, the market continues to deliver new and reimagined takes on this classic dessert (did you ever think you’d see the day when a chickpea protein isolate ice cream would be in development? You can thank ChickP for that).
Utter the words ‘ice cream’ in the natural products world and you’d be hard-pressed to find a person who wouldn’t respond by waxing lyrical about the vegan Booja-Booja range. Launched by the brand last month are the new Chocolate Fudge Brownie and Cookie Dough flavours (both entering into this year’s Natural & Organic Innovation Awards at NOPEX) plus Mango & Raspberry and Deeply Chocolate. The entire line has had a makeover – expect ‘bold colours, smooth lines and ornate gold detailing’ – while the Vanilla, Caramel Pecan Praline and Chocolate Salted Caramel flavours have been treated to a little ‘recipe refinement’.
“Familiar flavours have been transformed and the new varieties are incredible,” says Matt Gilding, Booja-Booja managing director. “This is a whole new product, inside and out; creamier, cleaner, more sophisticated and quite simply breathtakingly delicious. It’s as good, if not actually better, than most luxury dairy ice creams. The only thing we haven’t changed is the price.”
Elsewhere, Oppo Brothers has released three new ‘guilt-free’ icy delights: Vanilla Almond Caramel Swirl Ice Cream Sticks, Salted Caramel Biscuit Crunch Ice Cream Sticks – both offering on-the-go ease of consumption – and Caramelised Biscuit Swirl Ice Cream to be enjoyed at home.
And Pola has ‘reinvented the ice pop’. If you’re conscious of in-store freezer space it’s a good brand to know about since the Sorbet Poles arrive ambient for the consumer to freeze at home. Flavours include British Blackcurrant, Raspberry & Lime, Sicilian Lemon & Lime, British Rhubarb and Organic Ginger & Lemon. Watch out for the British Flowers duo, coming soon, which comprises English Rose and Wild Elderflower.
Finally, it’s widely believed that being around puppies is good for our mental health; and the mood-boosting benefits of a tub of ice cream are equally accepted. So how about marrying the two? Cool Dog does just that with its vegan Banana & Blueberry Doggy Ice Cream, so pet owners can pick up a treat for their fluffy companions while shopping
for themselves – and it’s a sure way to avoid having those beady eyes on you while you spoon your frozen dessert from the carton. Each compostable tub is packed with antioxidant superfoods, vitamins, protein and minerals specifically tailored for dogs. The lactose-free recipe prevents digestion problems, and it is the only FSA-approved canine ice cream on market.
With more than 12 million dog owners in the UK, the brand believes there is ‘fast-rising demand from a new customer base’. “Impulse buys provide an easy profit boost, but retailers need a brand that sells itself,” says the Cool Dog team.
Making a meal of it
With a wide range of plastic-free veggies, organic grains and pulses, and freshly baked breads on offer in health stores, sometimes browsing the chiller cabinet is all a shopper needs to do to find the finishing touches for a quick meal idea on a Friday night.
Appetizers are taken care of by Biona’s newest launch of organic bites to pop in the oven. The range comprises Mini Thai Spring Rolls Coriander and Chili Spice; Mini Spring Rolls Sweet n Sour; Oaty Carrot Bites, featuring sustainably harvested Bavarian oats and crunchy carrot and courgette; and Veggie Quinoa Sticks which are described as having a ‘subtle flavour’. Kelly Slater, Biona marketing manager, explains that the SKUs are reflective of the increasing importance of the chilled category to the brand. “[We have] six chilled products set to launch by May 2023. These new product innovations are vegan and made with the highest quality certified organic ingredients, addressing increasing consumer demand for health and sustainability. They also address ease-seeking convenience and snacking, as many are ready to eat.”
Vegan shoppers might follow these by topping a wild rocket salad with Perfect Season Dill Cakes, packed with herbs and protein-rich white beans and yellow peas, but free from fish.
Curry lovers might cook up some brown rice and pair it with Shicken Butter Curry or add Shicken Tikka Kebabs to Amaizin Organic Tortilla Wraps and finish them by adding a dollop of Yeo Valley Natural Yoghurt or Esti Plant-based Tzatziki.
Those craving a burger might opt for Moving Mountains’ No Chicken Burger, or branch out into its No Chicken Nuggets, before grabbing a bottle of Meridian Organic Tomato Ketchup from the ambient aisle.
Home tapas chefs might find just the plant-based Spanish staple they need in Squeaky Bean Cooking Chorizo Style Sausage – a dry, cured vegan alternative to chorizo made from pea and faba bean protein flavoured with ancho chilli.
And with health stores well known for their vegan cheese selections – stocking brands such as Jay & Joy and Honestly Tasty – that’s the next course sorted. Slice of Shamembert anyone?
But the fridge wouldn’t be complete without something sweet. Enter Cocos Organic, which has expanded its gut-friendly range to include larger 400g tubs of Mango Passionfruit Yoghurt and Mixed Berry Yoghurt. And entering into the Natural & Organic Innovation Awards at NOPEX this month is Origin Kitchen, hoping to scoop the prize for Best New Food Product with its Naturally Creamy Mango Passion Pot – a dessert described as a ‘nutritious, guilt-free alternative that delivers on indulgence’. Containing 86% steamed cashews, the mousse is created by blitzing together fresh mango and passionfruit with super-soft nuts. Agave adds a touch of natural sweetness, keeping the product HFSS-compliant.
Frozen from fresh
Some days, convenience is king – but consumers still deserve quality. Hitting the sweet spot between the two is the natural products sector’s forte. One Planet Pizza is of course a household name in the frozen pizza category, as is White Rabbit in the chiller cabinet, and they are now joined by high-protein brand SRSLY.
SRSLY has ventured into pizza-making with three ‘generously topped’ thin and crispy frozen options: Double Pepperoni, Three Cheese & Pesto and Spicy Chicken. Each one low in carbs, the 9” pizzas claim to offer ‘all the taste’ while being ‘friendly on the waist’.
For shoppers who want to try a new cuisine but don’t have time for complex recipes, Oyetty Meals brings the authentic flavours of West Africa to British dinner tables via home-cooked ready meals made with organically grown ingredients. Dishes include Bitterleaf Soup, Smokey Jollof, Afang Soup, Efo Riro, Asun and Eqa Agoyin. The meals are frozen from fresh to retain optimal nutrition and taste and are ready in three minutes when cooked in a microwave.
New Dairy Free Ice Cream Range
The new Booja-Booja dairy free ice cream range is the company’s most delicious ever. New recipes, richer, creamier textures and cleaner, fuller flavours make this a whole new product, inside and out. Created to give retailers everything they want from a free-from ice cream range it’s organic, vegan, dairy free, gluten free and soya free. It includes four brand new varieties; Cookie Dough, Mango & Raspberry, Chocolate Fudge Brownie and Deeply Chocolate, alongside three transformed favourites from its existing collection. At £5.49 RRP these beautiful tubs are designed to sell fast. Sample this new range for yourself on Stand V46.
We’re taking plant-based food back to it’s roots! Exciting, innovative plant-based alternatives that celebrate the natural genius of the ingredients they’re made from. Our spreads champion the natural creaminess of cashews, simply steamed and blended to make an ultra-creamy base, we then blitz this with veg, herbs & natural ingredients. A nutritious and delicious alternative to cream cheese, it’s amazing on toast, crackers, in a sandwich, wrap or stirred into pasta for a sensational sauce.
Organic Tomato & Olive Pesto and Organic Fresh Basil Pesto
Our purpose ‘to make life taste better by connecting people to the natural vitality of real food’ guides us through all aspects of life and especially so when it comes to developing new products. We developed these Vegan Organic Pesto’s to help people create simple delicious meals whilst exploring a new twist on a traditional staple with or without the addition of cheese!
These pesto’s will appeal to consumers who are driven by taste and clean ingredients or just simply have a flexitarian approach to eating.
The Organic Fresh Basil Pesto is a vibrant vegan pesto that knocks the socks off any other vegan pesto out there! In fact, it’s impossibly cheesy flavours would have you believe it contains the traditional ingredient, Parmigiano Reggiano as well as pine nuts but in fact this pesto is not only vegan but also nut free. The rich and savoury notes are achieved by the use of pumpkin seeds along with a blend of natural ingredients, created by The Real Olive company’s in house new product development chef Charlie.
To compliment the Basil Pesto, Charlie has also created an amazing tasting vegan Organic Sweet Tomato and Kalamata Pesto which is perfect for a quick and easy mid-week meal that’s good for you whilst bringing luscious, warm, deep flavours to your table! The sweet red peppers and savoury rich sun-dried tomatoes are lifted by the addition of fruity Kalamata olives to really harness the flavours of the Mediterranean.
About The Real Olive Company:
Specialising in organic, fresh olives, antipasti and Mediterranean inspired real food. The Real Olive Company source their ingredients from trusted growers on the shores of the Mediterranean.
From farm to table, every step retains the natural goodness of the produce. They prepare, marinate, and blend the finest ingredients together using time-honoured recipes and cold-pressed oils so you can enjoy the freshest, most authentic foods bursting with Mediterranean sunshine.
The Real Olive Company want to build a future where we all recognise that our own health and well-being is intrinsically linked to that of our planet. This is why they strive to make a healthy choice taste great, by creating natural and sustainable food that can be enjoyed together, whilst nourishing mind, body and soil.
In essence ‘Love Life Eat Real’
For more information or to
order some samples,
email [email protected]
or call us on 0117 950 1058.