What happened in the aftermath of the horse meat scandal?

There has been a lasting impact on consumer buying behaviour since the horse meat scandal.
There has been a lasting impact on consumer buying behaviour since the horse meat scandal.

According to new statistics from Ipsos Mori, working with The Grocer, there has been a lasting impact on consumer buying behaviour since the horse meat scandal. Is anyone surprised?

The stats reveal the following:

  • Almost all adults in the UK (95%) remember the horse meat incident, but only 31% of British adults have changed the way they buy or choose food in the last 12 months.
  • Of those who remember the incident, 10% claim to have reduced their purchase of processed meat, 8% purchase fewer ready-made meals, 7% buy more meat from high street butchers, and 7% spend more time reading labels on food products before purchasing.

The statistics that interested me the most were emotional, such as the fact that three out of every four adults were able to cite ‘at least one concern or issue emanating from the horse meat incident’ …

‘Betrayal of trust’ was the most frequently mentioned concern (53%), followed by ‘lack of control’ (48%) and ‘lack of answers/accountability’ (34%).

I’m glad to see that the poll includes these emotional responses related to trust, as the initial reports at the time (and many subsequent reports) focused on the public’s perceived ‘disgust’ that anyone should be eating horse meat in the first place.

In many countries, eating horse meat isn’t taboo. The crime in this case was that a nation that does consider the eating of horse meat as taboo was deceived, and these new poll results reveal that a significant section of the public was justly concerned.

However, are you surprised by the high percentage of people who don’t seem bothered by the whole issue? Please leave your comments below.

Stephen Yap, head of Ipsos MarketQuest, is quoted as saying: “The frozen food industry has been particularly badly hit. Tesco and Iceland are most closely associated with the scandal and their reputations have yet to make a full recovery. However, 26% of the British public are buying cheaper food than they were a year ago, which may suggest that price is still a central factor in food choices.”

You can also read a blog by my former colleague Rebecca Prescott, who posed the question, Horse Meat: What’s the big deal?.

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