Meat category a key focus for Iceland Foods innovation

Iceland Foods has made meat a crucial pillar of its innovation strategy since the start of this year as part of efforts to draw shopper interest, it has announced.

Posting its annual results this week, Iceland founder and executive chairman Malcolm Walker said: “Major launches in the new year to date include our World Famous range of slow-cooked meats, which may be cooked from frozen, but also offer customers the flexibility and convenience of keeping chilled in their fridge for up to seven days.

“We have also launched our best-ever summer and barbecue range, including Red Shrimps, Belgian Blue Steaks, Ultimate Steak Miso Burgers, Purple Fries and Dirty Wedges.”

The opening of the firm’s £2m development kitchen at Deeside would drive further improvements, he said.

Walker said Iceland had enjoyed particular success with its luxury meats, takeaway prepared meals and frozen fish and seafood.

“We have benefited from further growth in the exclusive branded ranges we are able to offer through our partnerships with Slimming World, Greggs, Millie’s Cookies and Pizza Express,” said Walker in Iceland’s results statement. “Innovation in our core frozen food offer has been complemented by substantial improvements in our chilled and ambient grocery ranges.”

The strength of Iceland’s product offer had been highlighted over the past year by the retailer scooping various awards, including “numerous wins at [Meat Trades Journal’s] SuperMeat & Fish Awards”, Walker said.

During the year, Iceland had completed the major capital investment programme at its Iceland manufacturing facility in Manchester, dedicated to making frozen prepared meals, soups and sauces for Slimming World, he added. “This is delivering all the expected benefits of increased capacity and substantially improved efficiency through automation, while enhancing product quality and consistency.”

Trials of a new format store in Clapham Common, London, opened in October featuring a bold new look, improved in-store navigation and presentation, and an extended product range, had gone well, he said. It had since enjoyed a similarly positive response to store refits in Chester and Worcester Park, Surrey.

In the past year, it opened 28 new stores in the UK, including 24 stores under its The Food Warehouse fascia, and closed eight, giving it a total of 884 UK stores, plus 12 in the Republic of Ireland and six in the Czech Republic.

Iceland reported adjusted pre-tax profit up 6.3% to £160m in the 52 weeks to 24 March on like-for-like sales up 2% and overall sales up 4.4% to £2.8bn.

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