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UK Insights

Impact of horsemeat scandal 1 year on

Claire Davies

Former editor and head of content

Consumer Shoppers 14.01.2014 / 06:10

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On the anniversary of the horsemeat scandal, what has been the long-term impact?

A year ago Kantar polled the UK public to find out how they would be responding to the horsemeat crisis. We have repeated this poll to assess the long-term impact.

In January 2013, at the height of the scandal, 19% of people said they would not buy from brands linked to the horsemeat scandal, this has now reduced to 9%. Last year 15% of people said they would not be buying economy ranges of meat, this has fallen to 7%.

Ralph Risk from Kantar company, Lightspeed Research says: "In the heat of the horsemeat scandal the majority of consumers felt the news would cause them to change how they shopped for meat, with around one in 5 saying they would change brands. While a year later we are still feeling the impact of the scandal, the research seems to indicate that this impact is lessening, as now only 1 in 10 felt they would change brands.  While the confidence seems to be returning, it is still important that brands continue to maintain the highest quality standards to ensure there is no repeat of the scandal."

Lloyd Burdett, Strategy Director at Kantar's The Futures Company says: "These figures are to be expected because the horsemeat scandal didn't pose a health-risk to consumers; it would have been a different story if it had. Retailers eventually responded and were seen by consumers and shoppers as the ones taking action. Historically British consumers have trusted retailers to 'do the right thing' in relation to food safety and hygiene, this is a legacy from previous food safety incidents, such as BSE, salmonella and the like where retailers, rather than producers or Government, were seen as the ones driving the most responsible actions to protect the consumer."

But Lloyd says retailers and brands must not become complacent: "For a small group of people, we can see an overhang of uncertainty surrounding some brands and products and whether they can be trusted again yet. At the Futures Company we have identified a more general movement towards a new 'combat ready' consumer mindset, by which we mean savvy and battle-hardened, cautious, watchful and assertive. The immediate aftermath of the horsemeat crisis has shown the dangers to brands if they are complacent and get caught in the crossfire with today's combat-ready consumer."

Kantar Worldpanel data shows sales of frozen ready meals are still down (-6%) and sales of burgers did suffer, particularly in March and April last year (down to -41%).

Ed Garner from Kantar Worldpanel says: "This data shows that many of the people who previously bought frozen ready meals, have turned to chilled ready meals since the scandal. Burgers have had a comeback because they have been heavily promoted. This crisis has provided a positive impetus for people to focus on the provenance of food and buying British. Cheap food has had a wake-up call."

Source : Kantar, Kantar Worldpanel, Lightspeed, Kantar Futures

Editor's Notes

Journalists, for more information or to interview a Kantar expert, please contact us.

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