Keeping it fresh

The British Frozen Food Federation (BFFF) is the UK’s frozen food trade association, focused on the promotion, development and advancement of the frozen food industry

With more than 320 members comprised of producers, wholesalers, importers, exporters, brokers, retailers and related associate businesses, BFFF covers the entire cold chain, from large BFFF 127 bcompanies to SMEs. Providing an excellent opportunity for frozen food firms and associates to gain awareness at both commercial and legislative levels, BFFF brings the food industry together while also offering a fantastic opportunity for companies to expand business connections.

“BFFF has been around a long time, since 1973 in its current incarnation and since 1948 previously. We are a long-established trade association that represents the whole of the £8 billion-pound British frozen food industry, which we aim to promote and protect. With regards to promotion, we are famous for running some excellent award events; in June 2017, we celebrated our 30th annual gala dinner, which celebrates the best innovation and product development across both retail and foodservice at the London Hilton, Park Lane. Other notable events are our annual luncheon, which promotes networking in the industry, and our annual conference that takes place in the Spring. Having recently moved to Birmingham, the next conference will be on 22nd February 2018 and will include a stellar line up of speakers, promising an informative and thought provoking programme covering key focuses of the industry,” says John Hyman, Chief Executive at BFFF.

“We run three big events a year and are introducing our first ever People Awards; it is great that we promote the best innovations and products, but we also need to recognise the people that make up this multi-billion pound industry. This new event will run on the evening of the conference on the 22nd February 2018 so we are busy with planning and promotion. For our members seeking to vote on the best people or unsung heroes within this industry, it is free for them to do so on our website, where they can pick from 11 different categories, from Factory Manager of the Year to Purchaser/Buyer of the Year and Logistics Champion.”

Benefits of frozen
Once BFFF members and non-members have nominated those that they believe go above and beyond for their businesses, the short-listed nominees will be announced at BFFF’s annual luncheon event in November. Winners will then be presented with awards for their hard work and dedication at the People Awards ceremony on Thursday 22nd February 2018 at the Hilton Birmingham Metropole. Categories are open to companies from both foodservice and retail sectors as well as from associate members.

“Launching any new awards ceremony is challenging in terms of the whole process of promoting and launching the event. We must also make sure that it is impartially judged and encourage members to nominate so it is a bigger and better event for members going forward; this is the same for our annual conference, which is currently going seven years strong,” says John.

Not only known for its highly popular events, BFFF also runs an annual health and safety seminar and is due to run a new technical seminar in February. “Alongside these seminars and events we run an ongoing marketing programme through our PR partner Pelican Communications and have done a great deal of academic research using leading universities to prove the benefits of frozen food on a rational basis. This includes nutrition, cost, quality and so on; this information is then pulled together with a market report, the second of which was launched at the House of Commons in the summer of 2016. Since joining BFFF it has blown me away how positive the foodservice sector is about frozen food. We have research that says 86 per cent of chefs understand the benefit of frozen food and that it is a natural process comparable to fresh or better in some ways. Choosing frozen can also take 21 per cent cost out of the chain, so if a pub or hotel has complicated products such as profiteroles on the menu, these can be pre-po
rtioned and ready to go rather than getting in skilled labour to produce them,” highlights John.

“Frozen food is quick, convenient and great quality while also ensuring there is minimal waste in comparison to fresh or chilled as any unused food can go back in the freezer. Also, if it wasn’t for the frozen process, we wouldn’t have the long-term availability of vegetables such as peas,” he adds.BFFF 127 c

Premium category
While the foodservice sector continues to embrace the trend of frozen food, BFFF is seeing a gradual change in the retail sector as it battles against the layout of stores that position their frozen area at the back of the store. “Because of this layout, the customer may have a full basket or may not be in the right frame of mind to look out for different frozen food products, however, we are seeing some trials that show encouraging changes in this area. In the short time though, we have seen a 20 per cent over-trade in frozen food online, which also continues to grow eight per cent year-on-year. Shopping online levels the playing field for frozen as consumers spot a broader assortment of products and are more likely to try new things,” says John. “In line with this trend, we are pointing out to our members that there are opportunities in the premium market as there isn’t yet premium products in every category and this is an area that frozen should be capitalising on. This is particularly true in the healthier range of products, with sweet potato up 120 per cent year-on-year and frozen fruit rising in demand, with sales up 35 per cent YOY, as it is used in smoothies and breakfast cereals daily.”

Looking ahead, BFFF will continue to work alongside its members and the government in line with market trends and issues such as Brexit, as John notes: “Brexit is interesting as we are working with members and the government on two key areas: the opportunity to increase exports as 47 per cent of our members export, and also the availability of labour as ten per cent to 60 per cent of employees are from Europe. The government is pleased to hear that 90 per cent of our members think they can export more post Brexit, however, members are concerned about the obvious challenge of investing in automation to boost efficiency against the challenge of labour. We have made this point clear to the government and as negotiations unfold we will work in a balanced way with regards to opportunities and issues.”

In terms of BFFF itself, John is keen for the association to continue growing and improving over the coming years. “We would like to keep our traditional strengths when it comes to events and technical health and safety while also building on our conference and People Awards events. It is also important for us to get more frozen industry engagement and promote long-term growth through trying to co-ordinate the best growth ideas and best practices at our conferences,” he concludes.

For more information about how to join BFFF please visit www.bfff.co.uk
If you’d like more information on the BFFF People Awards please visit us on twitter @BFFPeopleAward or at www.bfffpeopleawards.co.uk