THERE has been a huge increase in sales of frozen food during the Covid-19 lockdown. That’s not really unexpected as people shop for a week or more, but what is quite surprising is the top item in the list of ten products which have seen the biggest year-on-year increase, according to the frozen food specialists Field Fare.
The family business, which supplies farm shops, independent delis and food shops, garden centres and zero-waste shops, reports that consumers have rediscovered the convenience and quality of frozen food, and the top item is sliced beans (up 181%), with pies and suet puddings (93%) second, savoury pastries (88%) third, followed by fish fingers (87%, mixed vegetables (86%), peas (77%), ready meals (61%),
fruit pies (55%), sweet pastries (52%) and mixed fruit (43%).
Field Fare managing director Karen Deans says: “We have been interested to see that our loose serve lines are surging in sales. Much of this is down to the space saving efficiency of being sold without packaging, but I would go so far as to suggest that this crisis, and the resulting environmental benefits to a planet on lockdown, is making us far more eco-conscious. Long may that last.”
The company, founded by the Cryer family on their farm in Kent in 1977, supplies nearly 400 farm shops, delis, garden centres and zero-waste shops across the UK, who are all providing a literal lifeline for their communities. Local farm shops stocking Field Fare loose fruit and veg and other frozen products include both Whiterow Farm Shop near Frome and Ansty Farm Shop on the A30 east of Shaftesbury.
Many farm shops are providing an essential service to their communities (see our Taste of Help at Hand feature for more on local deliveries, etc). Many of these shoppers would usually go to supermarkets, but are staying local in keeping with government guidelines.
Karen Deans says it is a great opportunity for local retailers to introduce new customers to the things that make these independent shops different: “like locally grown, seasonal produce and traceable, artisan products; environmental solutions, like our loose serve, packaging free lines, and a friendly face behind the counter. Now is the time to shout about why shopping local is the future. Never again will there be such a literally captive audience!”
Field Fare has a long-standing relationship with Poole Waste Not Want Not, a charity which runs a community shop for individuals and families struggling to maintain a nutritious diet due to financial hardship. Poole Waste Not Want Not works with a local food bank and suppliers within the community to offer food at a discounted price, or by donation in the case of extreme hardship. The service offers support and advice, including a six-week cooking course, debt management advice and signposting to relevant services in the community.
Field Fare also supports the work of FareShare, a charity that redistributes surplus food to 20 UK-wide regional centres and on to partner charities – 28.6 million meals per year are provided to people in need.
Pictured: The top selling sliced beans, and Chicken Kiev, a recent addition to the ready meal range.