- The growth of processed frozen food industry in the Gulf is driven by convenience, as more and more families are now having both partners who are full time employed there is a growing demand for quick and easy cook meal solutions.
- Going forward the growing health and wellness trend is expected to positively influence the eating habits of consumers who will be seeking fresher and leaner meat, lower-fat chicken and gluten-free products, as well as more vegetables.
- Frozen processed food will remain more affordable than fresh produce, hence, consumers will still be willing to purchase frozen processed food even if they have to compromise on the health benefits.
The process of freezing food in order to preserve it is an age old practice, it freezes all the moisture present in the food to ice. This in turn slows down the growth of bacteria which is responsible for food degeneration. The method is mainly used in preserving food such as meats, seafood and vegetables.
In Processed Frozen Food industry the various products are frozen at extremely low temperature (- 40 degrees) through a method called flash freezing or blast freezing. Food Products frozen in the above manner do not require any further preservative to be added. Since microorganisms do not grow at temperatures’ below -9.5 degrees and the standard for storing and transporting frozen food products is -18 degrees, the products continue to maintain their original state so long as the cold chain remains intact.
In the Gulf this is a growing category and convenience seems to be the key driver of this growth. As more and more families are now having both partners who are full time employed there is a growing demand for quick and easy cook meal solutions. Processed Frozen Food is being seen as a key category which is fulfilling this need cutting across all nationalities.
The Product Group with its various sub groups & segments is highlighted below:
|Product Sub Groups||Chicken||Beef||Shimps||Fish||Flat Breads||Other Dough Prod.||Vegetable||Others|
|Product Segments||Chicken||Beef||IQF Shrimps||Fish Fillets||Paratha||Croissants||IQF Vegetables||Samosas|
|Burgers||Burgers||Breaded Shrimps||Whole Fish||Chappati||Filled Puff Pastry||SpringRolls|
|FrankFurters||Kebabs||Marinated Shrimps||Fateera||Pastry Sheets|
|Breaded Fillets||Muffins & Cakes|
The Frozen Food category in the GCC consists primarily of the above Product Groups, Sub Groups and Segments. However based the contribution of these Sub Groups and segments may vary from country to country in the region.
While Chicken Frankfurters is the biggest category contributing almost 45% of Processed Meat Group in UAE and Oman, Mince is the biggest contributor to the group in Saudi Arabia. However between Frankfurters, Mince, Burgers, Nuggets, Breaded Fillets & Kebabs they contribute more than 75% of the Processed Frozen Meat category throughout the region.
Frozen Sea food is another major category in most of the countries of GCC because of the strong consumer preference for seafood like Shrimps & Fish Fillet etc. Although its contribution to the overall Frozen Food market is not as big as Meat.
In the Frozen Dough Group flat breads sell across countries in the region due to the large population from South Asia, followed by others categories consisting of Croissants, Bread Sticks, Muffins & Cakes, and Pizza Base, etc which are mainly used by the Foodservice sector. The sales of Puff Pastry Sheets is predominantly during the Ramadhan season by both Foodservice and end Consumers.
In terms of the brands that are available in GCC we can classify them as follows:
- International Brands
- Regional/ Local Brands
- In House Brands
Amongst the International brands we have Sadia from Brazil at the top of the list followed by Doux from France and Emborg from Denmark offering an assortment of products. There are also a host of other international brands present only in the Chicken Franks segment from Brazil, Denmark, France, Turkey, etc.
Regional brands are those which are produced within the region and have a region wide presence, like Americana, Al Kabeer, Al Areesh, Khaleej, Al Islami, etc. Then there are some local brands that are available in a select few countries of the region like As Saffa(Oman & UAE) and number of local brands in Saudi Arabia & Qatar. These brands offer an assortment of various products mainly in the frozen meat Group.
A number of major retailers have also extended their In-house brands into the Frozen Food category and are gradually taking over large part of the frozen food shelf. All major regional retailers like LULU, CARREFOUR, CO Ops, PANDA, etc have now got their in house brands contract manufactured and are occupying prime shelf space, however they are restricted to their own out lets only.
Going forward the growing health and wellness trend is expected to positively influence the eating habits of consumers who will be seeking fresher and leaner meat, lower-fat chicken and gluten-free products, as well as more vegetables. Vegetables are likely to replace carbohydrates, which will boost sales of frozen processed vegetables.
Furthermore, the convenience factor will continue to drive this Segment as consumers will lead busier lifestyles and seek easier meal options. The product offering of Frozen Food is likely to see a change from the current “Ready to Cook” products to “Ready to eat” or “Heat & Eat” kind of options so we are likely to see a growth in Flash Fried products in the meats subgroup or Pre baked Parathas etc. in the Dough sub group.
Frozen processed food will remain more affordable than fresh produce, hence, consumers will still be willing to purchase frozen processed food even if they have to compromise on the health benefits. However the demand for lower-fat and organic frozen processed food items is likely to grow steadily over time.
The article is written by Subbooh Moid for Arab Business Review
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