Magazine article Marketing

Food: Processing Trust

Magazine article Marketing

Food: Processing Trust

Article excerpt

The horsemeat scandal has affected suppliers, global brands and retailers, writes Kim Benjamin.

Tesco's recall of its frozen Everyday Value Beef Burgers just over a month ago, after horse DNA was found in them, has spiralled into an international scandal. It has involved food producers, suppliers, supermarkets, caterers and restaurants, with Whitbread and Nestle just two of the companies affected - not to mention some schools being forced to remove burgers from their menus.

While many processed-beef products have been withdrawn, the question now is how do brands prevent their reputations from being tarnished further and regain trust.

According to the results of one survey carried out by research agency Consumer Intelligence, revealed last week, the discovery of horse DNA in beef products has prompted many consumers to shun meat. In the online poll, which questioned 2200 adults, one-fifth said they had cut back on purchases in the wake of the scandal. Reports in the national press, meanwhile, indicate that some analysts believe supermarkets' processed-meat sales have suffered a sharp decline.

The 'big four' supermarkets recently held a summit with food-trade groups and the Environment Secretary, pledging to work round the clock to restore confidence in meat products, while retailers are also said to be 'testing products like mad'. In a blog, Tesco chief executive Phil Clarke has promised to introduce 'industry-led benchmarking' on food testing.

With no end in sight to the scandal, and revelations about further products still emerging, what can brands do to put shoppers' minds at rest? We asked Jim Prior, chief executive at brand consultancy The Partners, and Clare Field, a former marketing director at Aunt Bessie's and now a marketing consultant to Sacla UK and managing director of consultancy Lutece.

HORSEMEAT: THE FALLOUT

40% decline in UK sales of frozen burgers in the week to 2 February

29/2500 products tested in the UK contained horsemeat adulteration of more than 1%

Sources: Nielsen, Food Standards Agency

DIAGNOSIS

Two industry experts on what stores and food manufacturers can do to rebuild trust

JIM PRIOR, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, THE PARTNERS

The most surprising aspect of the horsemeat scandal is that the public reaction doesn't make it feel like one at all. …

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