Could Iceland supermarkets become the new British favourite?
Researches at the School of Applied Sciences at Cranfield University say frozen foods can play a valuable role in meeting the UK government’s 2020 and 2050 food security targets.
In their report they concluded that by switching from fresh to frozen supply British households could considerably reduce their food waste.
They say: “These savings could drastically increase the supply of food fit for consumption and help meeting the increasing demand.”
According to WRAP, 19% of food and drink is wasted in the UK and it costs households an estimated £470 a year.
The researchers also found that frozen products were less expensive than their fresh equivalents making fish and vegetable products more accessible to low budget households.
“Frozen Atlantic cod is around 30% cheaper than its fresh equivalent.” This is likely due to the increased costs of transportation for fresh Atlantic cod.
“Frozen broccoli florets were found to be 44% less expensive than florets from fresh whole broccoli heads when stem wastage was factored in. Frozen florets were 57% cheaper than pre-packed fresh florets.”
Also home cooked roast potatoes were 20% more expensive than the same weight of frozen roast potatoes.
The report, which was commissioned by the British Frozen Food Federation BFFF, mentions how increasing frozen food production could be beneficial for the environment. “Some of the products studied showed clear reductions in greenhouse gas emissions (GHGE) for frozen products.”
This is mainly due to transportation, like in the case of Atlantic cod where fresh fish must be transported by air while the frozen one can be transported by road and sea. Also the GHGE from waste of frozen Atlantic cod are lower than the fresh product because of its extended shelf life.
For vegetables the results were not so clear because different factors, including the storage type in supermarkets and transportation, could give a different result.
This report also found that by increasing the use of frozen broccoli in winter months, the UK could be 100% self-sufficient in broccoli production. This could reduce GHGE production by 15% for the same crop.
Something that was not mentioned in the report, but has been mentioned by food bloggers, is that in some cases frozen food like fruit and vegetables can be of better quality than fresh ones.
Stefanie Dazio, writer at North Jersey News, say this is due to the fact that the processing happens when the produce is “at peak ripeness and frozen immediately, allowing the nutrients to get locked in at the highest levels.”
However vegetables that are brought from overseas to the UK when they are out of season have to be picked slightly before they are ripe and then they are stored for a long time before they even hit the shelves by which time they often lose some nutritional value.