The former food manufacturer – which specialises in cold storage and ‘up-tempering’, whereby the temperature of food is raised from -18°C to -3°C in under three minutes – believed the chilled sector represented a big opportunity to producers and retailers.
Statistics show that sales of convenience and chilled products have increased for consecutive years, claimed Rick Bestwick, which predicted a continued upward trend.
“As a company with such strong ties to frozen, it may seem contradictory to highlight chilled as the ‘one-to-watch’ but in food production many chilled products do start out frozen,” said Kevin Hancock, md of the Chesterfield-based company.
‘Frozen and chilled go hand-in-hand’
“Whether that is in ingredient form or as the final product, which is brought up to temperature before hitting the supermarket shelves, the reality is, frozen and chilled go hand-in-hand.”
Chilled food production in the UK is one of the fastest-growing sectors with budget supermarkets such as Aldi and Lidl earmarked as contributing to that growth, the company asserted.
“Despite being seen as discounters, these retailers have ‘premiumised’ the chilled sector,” said Hancock. “By offering a reduced range made up of top quality products, they are able to keep manufacturing levels high and prices low – which ultimately draws in the customer and boosts growth.
“One of the chilled market’s biggest issues is its short shelf-life and the logistical supply chain in getting products from manufacture to retail ‘just-in-time’. You always have to be ahead of the game, and that can result in food waste and financial loss.”
‘Be ahead of the game’
Rick Bestwick recently opened what it claimed was Europe’s largest ‘up-tempering’ facility. It enabled both manufacturers and retailers to speedily thaw frozen products using microwave technology.
The company, part of the Magnavale group, has a network of sites across the UK. It also has a partnership with European logistics firm DFDS Logistics, which provides all of its transport services.
“Rick Bestwick has seen a surge in the number of chilled products leaving our facilities,” said Hancock.
“There has been a particular increase in finished retail packaged goods. Chilled has been on the rise for many years, but it is clear that it will continue to enjoy growth for many more to come.”