Horse meat

How did the horsemeat scandal affect shoppers’ habits?

A year after horsemeat began turning up in the UK food chain, a new survey carried out for The Grocer shows the scandal has made no difference to the way the majority of Brits shop.

Questioned by Ipsos MORI, 77% of shoppers said they hadn’t made any changes to the way they shopped for food over the past year. When asked to consider the impact of horsemeat, 69% of shoppers said the scandal had made no difference to them whatsoever.

Respondents were also asked who they thought was to blame for the crisis. The majority (26%) blamed regulators for failing to monitor the industry, 21% blamed suppliers and 16% blamed the supermarkets . Just 10% blamed criminals.

As for the supermarkets’ reputation, the results show Tesco suffered the most, with 20% of respondents viewing it “less favourably” than before.

“They put their head above the parapet and said mea culpa,” said director at Kantar Worldpanel Ed Garner. “Although that was good crisis management, it linked their name to Horsegate more than Asda , who also suffered the same problems. Trust in the Tesco name has suffered. That will take a bit of a comeback.”

Garner added that taking a “broader view” there was “probably an enhancement in the reputation of the quality retailers like M&S , Waitrose and Sainsbury ’s.”

The survey also shows how alive shoppers were to the categories affected by the crisis, with 69% correctly identifying frozen burgers and 65% identifying frozen ready meals as products where horsemeat was found.

Download the full survey as a PDF.

How has the horsemeat scandal changed the way you changed the way you choose or buy your food?

69%It had no impact on the way I choose or buy food
10% I now buy less processed meat than I used to
8% I now buy fewer ready meals than I used to
7% I now spend more time reading labels before buying
7% I now buy more meat from high street butchers
6% I have stopped buying certain meat products
5% I now buy less frozen meat
5% I now buy more fresh food/meat than I used to
4% I now buy more vegetarian food than I used to
4% I now buy less meat than I used to
4% I now buy more expensive meat options
3% I have changed the store where I buy meat
1% I now buy cheaper meat options
2% Other

Source: Ipsos MORI for The Grocer, Dec 2013. Sample: 1,010 shoppers aged 16-75