LONDON – It's been a year since the discovery of horse meat in hamburgers, frozen meals and other food products containing meat in the United Kingdom. But the revelation has had a lasting impact on British consumers, according to a new survey.
An Ipsos-MORI survey found that nearly 31 percent of British adults have changed their food buying habits in the last 12 months, and 95 percent of adults in the United Kingdom remember the food-supply incident. Additionally, sales of frozen burgers and frozen prepared meals — the two items most affected by the scandal — declined 7.2 percent and 7.6 percent respectively, according to The Guardian citing analysis from Kantar.
The survey also found that consumer confidence was shaken by the incident — 'betrayal of trust' was mentioned by 53 percent of respondents, followed by 'lack of control' at 48 percent and lack of answers/accountability at 34 percent of consumers.
Among the many retailers impacted by the horse meat scandal, Tesco was most affected, according to Ipsos. Twenty percent consumers now view the retailer less favorably. Iceland was next at 14 percent.
“The horsemeat scandal of 2013 is still fresh in the minds of many,” said Stephen Yap, head of Ipsos MarketQuest. “The frozen-food industry in particular, Tesco and Iceland are most closely associated with the scandal and their reputations have yet to make a full recovery. It is clear that public confidence will take a long while yet to recover.”
An audit by the National Audit Office found that the UK's food policy contributed to a failure to recognize the heightened risk of adulterated food products entering the food chain. The NAO reported that the horse meat scandal exposed weaknesses in government controls of the food supply chain, and showed the complexity of the supply chain. The original source of the adulteration has never been identified.