Frozen food has performed well in a market with fewer outlets serving fewer diners.
Data compiled by Horizons FS shows that the number of outlets from 2009 2010 remained the same, while the number of meals served fell by 1.2%.
Despite this, caterers and chefs have continued to rely on frozen, which makes up 22% of all food purchases. Restaurants are especially dependent on frozen food, which accounts for nearly a third of their total food purchases.
It has been a really tough couple of years for the eating out sector with the recession forcing many people to cut back on luxuries like dining out of home. Even when consumers do venture out to eat, the competitive nature of the market has led them to expect more but to pay less. Caterers have recognised how frozen food can help.
Young pointed to research conducted by Manchester Food Research Centre showing that buying-in frozen food can save chefs up to 33% on the cost of making the same meal from scratch, taking into account the price of raw ingredients, labour and energy costs.
He added: Blind taste tests also proved that top chefs cant tell the difference between fresh and frozen with regards to a number of popular meals so chefs neednt think that they are compromising on quality. Research conducted by Sheffield Hallam University shows that frozen vegetables contain the same - and sometimes more - nutritional value than fresh.
The Horizons FS data shows an improvement on 2008 figures when the recession was at its worst and it is predicted that the value of the eating out market will grow over the next five years. Mintel estimate that this figure could reach up to £35,960 million in 2016.