Consumers losing faith in meat products

18 February 2013

Posted by Satvir Bhullar

Consumers are losing faith in meat products as result of the horsemeat scandal, according to a new survey by Consumer Intelligence.

The research company found 21 per cent of UK customers have started to buy less meat in general as a result of the scandal. A further 24 per cent said they will reduce the amount of processed meat they purchase. However, nearly a fifth of respondents said they would like to make this change but cannot afford to.

There is clearly a lack of trust in supermarkets, as almost two-thirds of people said they would prefer to buy their meat from an independent store. Food labels have also seen a loss of public confidence, as 67 per cent of respondents said they now trust them less than before.

However, the public is not completely adverse to eating horsemeat, as 25 per cent of people said they would knowingly eat horse and 33 per cent would consider it.

David Black of Consumer Intelligence said: "Our findings show that this scandal has really hit consumers hard, be it through having to change their shopping habits or altering the fundamentals of their diet."

He added: "The main issue is about being able to trust that what the label says you're eating is what you're actually eating."

The Environment Secretary Owen Patterson is set to meet with the UK's major food retailers to discuss what can be done to restore customers' faltering confidence in the industry.

Malcolm Walker, Chief Executive of supermarket chain Iceland, told the BBC supermarkets should not be blamed for the scandal.

He said: "If we're going to blame somebody let's start with local authorities, because there's a whole side to this industry which is invisible, that's the catering industry."

Mr Walker added schools and hospitals are "massive business" for cheap food providers and local authorities award contracts solely based on price.

However, Sir Merrick Cockell, Chairman of the Local Government Association, rejected the claims, telling the BBC they were "ridiculous".

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