In the UK, consumption of frozen food is up, but what does this mean for sustainable development through consumption? Does this mean healthier Brits upping their veg intake or a rational bargain-hunters’ substitute for fresh produce? How is the health of fresh produce suppliers from the developing world faring?


Hot freeze: frozen-food retailer Iceland’s bullish comments “we are not taking part in this recession”, frozen food sales rising 7% across the category at supermarkets, total frozen food sales expected to top £5billion this year.

Favouring developed world: Frozen foods favour the highly capitalised larger firms with access to freezing facilities and cold chains. They favour those companies with ability to store product for several months, even years, in order to take advantage of market conditions. Many developing country producers are able to access these markets.

Furthermore, frozen has been a forgotten category for the past ten years and declining. Investments from companies in sustainable development aspects to their supply chains are conspicuously absent and certainly far below those for fresh produce.

Sustainableslump is keeping a watching brief to see if this trend is a substitute or a complement for the fresh produce sector. The exacting conditions that many internationally traded fresh produce are grown under in developing countries are among the world’s most stringent, according to GlobalGAP and DFID. IIED has calculated over one million livelihoods in Africa depend on the UK consumption of imported fresh produce from rural Africa.

Is there a market opportunity for more sustainable standards to enter the frozen foods market?