Horsemeat: Frozen burger sales drop 40%

Sales of frozen burgers in the UK have plummeted in the wake of the horsemeat scandal with supermarkets’ own-label products taking the brunt of the decline.

Data from research firm Nielsen revealed that frozen burger sales fell by 40% year-on-year in the week ending 2 February 2013, with 900,000 fewer households buying frozen burger products in the four weeks to 2 February 2013. However, the majority of this decline was seen in private-label, with branded products actually showing an upward trend in the 12 weeks to 2 February 2013.

“Shoppers are showing confidence in branded burgers, believing that the horsemeat issues are confined to retailer own-label products. Those continuing to buy frozen burgers have either shifted to buying branded products from own-label, or have added branded products to their repertoire of purchases,” said Nielsen frozen food analyst Richard Anderson.

However, Anderson added that, with the scandal now more widespread than just burgers, the effect on this market could be temporary.

“Given the confidence in brands, and that horsemeat is now a wider issue than just burgers, we expect the frozen burger category – which sparked the recent revelations – to recover,” he said.

A Nielsen consumer survey of 1,062 people revealed that 74% of consumers were concerned by the horsemeat scandal, although the majority said they were concerned about incorrect labelling, rather than about having eaten horsemeat.

Concerns were not limited to burgers, with the majority (67%) saying that they would now be less likely to buy processed meat products in general in the future.