Italian frozen food sales grew by 2% in volume terms, to 841,500 tonnes last year, according to the Italian Institute of Frozen Foods (IIAS). This growth was led by the retail channel, which saw a +3.1% (531,500 tonnes) increase in products sold, while catering saw a +0.3% increase (310,000 tonnes). In terms of category growth, the biggest increase was in the fish and seafood category (+5% compared to the previous year), pizza (+2.1%), and vegetables (+1.8%). At the same time, sales of frozen meat products, especially red meat (-2.3% in 2017), dropped due to consumers embracing a more vegetable-rich diet. Over the past twelve months, 25 million Italian households purchased frozen products; a penetration rate of over 95% and a total market value of between 4.2 and 4.5 billion euro. Per capita consumption amounted to 13.9 kg, slightly up on the 13.6 kg recorded in 2016, although still far below other European countries – such as the 46.3 kg per capita per year of frozen products consumed by Germans.
A recent Censis-Coldiretti survey showed that those who systematically buy frozen products are generally the same consumers who favour PDO and PGI products, as well as organic products. The president of IAAS, Vittorio Gagliardi, pointed out that in recent years, companies operating in the sector have succeeded in correctly interpreting the changing needs of consumers, mixing the demand for healthy and wellness products with a high degree of service. Gagliardi is optimistic regarding expectations for the current year, especially on the back of May data that showed a 1.9% increase in consumption in the Italian frozen food category.