The Norfolk turkey farmer and owner of arguably the UK's most recognisable meat brand was at the centre of what was Britain's first major outbreak of bird flu late last week, which forced it to cull 160,000 birds at its Holton site in Suffolk.
Its rapid response and subsequent handling of the situation, which prevented the outbreak from spreading, means it is not expected to suffer long-term damage. "Everyone can see it has done everything possible and has not tried to cover it up," said Stuart Whitwell, joint MD of brand valuation company Intangible Business. "It has taken it full on the chin. It can't prevent it, so most people will have sympathy with it."
Brand expert Jonathan Gabay said Bernard Matthews could even enhance its reputation because of how it dealt with the situation. "The case is unique. Unlike other recent food scares, at this stage it appears it involves unpreventable natural causes. The company has acted in a textbook manner."
Initial reports from the major retailers suggest there may not be a consumer backlash against turkey.While Tesco and Somerfield have reported a dip in poultry sales, Sainsbury's and Asda say sales are unchanged. Bernard Matthews said it expected the Holton site to be fully functional by next week.