Growth of Individually
Quick Frozen (IQF) fresh produce, and vegetables in particular, is being held
back by consumer perception following a number of food safety issues, according
got a new report.
The report by Future Market
Insights; IQF Vegetable Market: Global Industry Analysis and Opportunity
Assessment, 2016-2026, estimates that the global market for frozen vegetables
is worth more than $1,280 million US$ 1,288.3, with almost 16,900 tonnes
product being supplied last year. Growth is forecast at around d 4 per cent
over the next eight years, with products including potatoes, tomatoes, broccoli
and cauliflower. However, peas are the fastest growing seller globally with the
value of frozen pea products growing by almost 6 per cent a year.
However, the report sounds
a note of caution, warning that, “The global demand for IQF vegetables is
expected to be inhibited by increasing risk of consuming Listeria monocytogenebacteria,
strict regulations that forbid the use of IQF vegetables due to rising
occurrence of bacteria and viruses, and fluctuating prices, plus the
availability of raw materials.”
The biggest market globally
for frozen vegetables is the United States, followed by India, Russia and
Western Europe, although the “most lucrative” market is the Middle East and
Kent-based fruit supplier Peaty Mills plc is working with frozen fruit specialist Nice Fruit, which last year transferred its base of operations from Catalonia to Andorra, to introduce a new freezing method which the companies say preserves peak ripeness.
The company, which currently specialises in canned and prepared fruit and vegetables, says that the colour, texture, flavour, aroma and nutrients of the fruit are kept fully preserved for up to three years. The fruit can be defrosted in one hour with no loss of quality and then has a 48-hour shelf life.
Fruit available currently in the range includes pineapple, melon, mango, and others, as well as snack-ready packs, individual portion packs, multi-portion bags and now individual pineapple spears in foil packs to be eaten like ice lollies. The company says that single serving bags are proving very popular in fast food outlets like coffee shops.
Photo Caption: Peaty Mills plc says its new freezing method can keep fruit in excellent condition for up to three years.
Overall tomato production within the European Union is expected to decrease this year due to significant reductions in outdoor production of processing crops in Spain.
The latest EU figures show that production last year was some 3 per cent higher (at a total of 18.5 million tonnes) than in 2016, again driven by an increase in processing crop production as fresh crop output actually fell by 2 per cent.
The forecast production of Iberian crops is expected to be 22 per cent lower this season, with some 3,000 less hectares planted in Extramadura alone – largely due to the wet weather and thunder storms seen in April and May. Trade body TomatoEurope expects the overall production of process types of tomatoes to be some 12 per cent lower than last year, although the output from Portugal and Italy is expected to be in line with previous years.
It is also important to note that these forecasts were made before the recent very hot weather, and does not account for any effect on final yields which may result.
Dutch-based Farm Frites has added a new sweet potato French fry to its range, claiming that the new line has a longer chip length and shorter cooking time than other offerings.
It is hoped that the new product will help boost the profitability of caterers by giving them a product which makes consumers want to trade up. “The retail market in the UK has seen a 120 per cent year-on-year uplift in sweet potato sales and the trend to upgrade to a premium side order continues to be strong,” explained the firm’s marketing manager for the UK and Ireland, Nic Townsend.
“Our sweet potato fry cooks in just one and a half to two minutes but this speed is not at the expense of taste. This chip has a fluffy texture, a crunchy bite and a quality taste… We’ve designed this fry to be longer than standard to continue the premium theme.”
“Consumers like premiumisation and the ability to customise their meal. Sweet potato is not just a popular choice that customers expect to see on a menu, it’s a profitable choice for operators who can make a good margin on a simple product upgrade.”
McCain Foods has had its plans for a £100 million expansion of its potato processing facility in Scarborough recommended by the planning committee of Scarborough Borough Council.
The plans for the Eastfield site include upgrades to equipment and renewable energy generation, as well as environmental measures such as odour reduction technology and landscaping. The company, which has been on the site for almost 50 years, says that the expansion will help to secure jobs in the area.
Bill Bartlett, corporate affairs director for McCain, commented, “We are delighted at the outcome of the planning committee’s decision to recommend approval of the renewal plans for our Scarborough site. This will see over GBP100m invested into our Scarborough facility. Established in Eastfield almost 50 years ago, the McCain Foods Scarborough facility is one of the company’s most successful sites. As the largest private employer in Scarborough and partner to many suppliers and community organizations in the area, we are dedicated to our operations here.”
The European Commission has asked for comments on proposals on ‘benchmark’ levels for acrylamide which have been published on its website.
The draft project asks for producers to apply measures to reduce levels of acrylamide in products such as chips, crisps and other potato products, as well as other baked goods and coffee. It comes after the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) published its scientific opinion on acrylamide in food; reconfirming previous evaluations that acrylamide in food potentially increases the risk of developing cancer.
The Finnish Food and Drink Industries’ Federation (ETL) stressed, ‘the need of taking regional conditions in to account when assessing the necessity of certain mitigation methods. For example, the use of chemical substances to suppress sprouting has not been seen necessary since cool (winter) storage conditions prevent sprouting. Not using sprouting suppressing agents is also a measure preventing overall exposure to chemicals. Also, the change of raw material or ingredient should not lead to poor or lesser nutritional quality at the cost of lower acrylamide levels.’
In addition, the Finnish Frozen Food and Potato Association (F&P) have written that the suggested benchmark level of 750 µg/kg for potato crisps is too low and could cause problems both for Finnish potato producers and food processors. ‘The acrylamide level should stay at 1000 µg/kg for potato crisps. No health problems reported so far and the recent level is already cutting out the high acrylamide levels from production. Potato crisps are minor products and not part of daily diet,’ they said.
Tesco has introduced a new range of frozen prepared produce of four items which it says are on-trend but tricky to prepare. These include pomegranate, watermelon, coconut and beetroot.
The retailer helps that the move will reduce waste by allowing consumers to use only what they need and keep the rest in the freezer. In the last year demand for bags of ready prepared frozen fruit slices at Tesco has soared by 35 per cent. The supermarket’s frozen smoothie range, which includes veg and fruit mixes, has seen a nearly 100 per cent increase in sales in the last 12 months.
Tesco frozen food buyer Marianne Aitken commented, “Our new frozen range is a delicious and hassle free way to help assemble that eye-catching dish.” All of the new frozen products come in easy to use re-sealable packs. The beetroot and coconut are already diced while the watermelon is in chunks and the pomegranate is seeded.