Matt Whelan, Fieldfare: “Unlocking frozen opportunities”

09 May 2023, 07:58 AM
  • Matt Whelan, managing director at Fieldfare, shares why fine food retailers should consider expanding their frozen ranges in 2023
Matt Whelan, Fieldfare: “Unlocking frozen opportunities”

I’m a big Beatles fan. There’s just something special and unique about their music. Take a song like Yesterday – covered so many times by a range of artists but no matter how they each tweak it or what new instruments they introduce to make it their own, the tune is always recognisable and reassuringly familiar.

So is the farm shop. Trusted, distinct and full of exciting twists and discoveries. In a time when the media is full of negativity and uncertainty, consumers take comfort in the warm, personal touch of the local farm shop. They delight in the unique, affordable treats and local products that they can discover on its shelves, whilst feeling reassured by its familiarity.

Shoppers have always counted on farm retail to represent quality and choice, which is key at a time when trust in supermarkets are at an all-time low. Many feel that they are supporting local businesses and producers when using farm retailers and a new generation of shoppers is also finding sustainable shopping and ‘clean’ eating options more forthcoming at their local farm shop than in the supermarkets.

In many ways, farm shops offer everything that supermarkets don’t or can’t. Theatre, community, individuality and delicious fresh, local, artisan or homemade products.

However, as people change the way they shop and in order to offer a viable alternative to supermarkets, farm shops need to constantly adapt along with their shoppers’ needs. Committing to changes can be challenging though, especially at a time when the future looks a little uncertain. However, like that timeless, foot-tapping tune, it is simply a case of ensuring that your composition always has enough of the known components, as well as plenty of newness and exciting discoveries.

One of the key essentials that the modern shopper deems important, is a quality frozen range. Whilst many farm shops offer frozen, there still is plenty of scope to develop the fine frozen foods offering within farm shops. The convenience, good value and potential to help reduce food waste at home that frozen offers the shopper, alongside the cost saving opportunity and added discoverability that it brings to the retailer, means that fine frozen foods have never been so popular.

Shoppers love browsing and filling their baskets with interesting new flavours and ideas. They view frozen as good value and with the naturally long shelf-life there’s no need to worry about use by dates, availability or seasonality. In turn, this leads to shoppers often being more open to trying new products or adding a little extra to their baskets.

Even more so with a flexible concept such as Fieldfare’s loose and individually portioned frozen foods. Shoppers can pick and choose as much or as little they like. From simply sampling something new to personalised portions for everyone in the household, the unique concept offers theatre and excitement.

For the retailer, it may look like a big step to add fine frozen to their range but it need not be. We work closely with all our customers on an ongoing basis and we know from our numerous farm shop customers, who have created space for our freezers, that it is a fantastic and worthwhile way to service the contemporary shopper.

As energy saving, sustainability and budget management becomes more and more important to the consumer and retailer alike, yet the importance of quality remains paramount, fine frozen foods offer an excellent and profitable opportunity.

With exciting, discoverable products or flexible ranges such as Fieldfare’s loose concept, fine frozen may just be the key to keeping the new generation of shopper coming back to farm retail again and again.

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