Frozen burger sales have plummeted by 40% year-on-year in the wake of the horse meat scandal, new research has revealed.

Latest Nielsen figures show that retail sales of frozen burgers fell 40% in the week ending 2 February 2013, compared to the same week the year before, while volumes were also down 43% YOY.

The decline was almost entirely down to shoppers eschewing own-label burgers in light of the horse meat revelations, the analysts said, although many frozen burgers were withdrawn from freezers which could also have had a bearing on the figures.

Altogether 900,000 households shunned the frozen burger category, however, 1.6 million consumers continued to pop frozen burgers into their baskets with branded sales on a slight upward trend for the 12 weeks to 2 February 2013, the research said.

“Shoppers are showing confidence in branded burgers, believing that the horse meat issues are confined to retailer own-label products,” Nielsen frozen food analyst Richard Anderson said.

“Those continuing to buy frozen burgers have either shifted to buying branded products from own-label, or have added branded products to their repertoire of purchases.”

More than half (67%) of the 1,062 shoppers surveyed said they would be less likely to purchase processed meat products in the future, while 74% said they were concerned about the horse meat news.

However, consumers were more likely to change the foods they buy, rather than switch retailer, the survey found.

“Given the confidence in brands, and that horse meat is now a wider issue than just burgers, we expect the frozen burger category – which sparked the recent revelations – to recover,” Anderson added.