Britain has got through the equivalent of 43.4 million fewer frozen quarter pounders in the past year, as shoppers switched from frozen burgers to frozen poultry, research for The Grocer has revealed.

Sales of frozen processed red meat suffered a 6.8% decline to £62.8m, on volumes down 14.8% in the year to 2 March [Kantar Worldpanel]. The loss is even greater than the previous year’s, when the sector was hit by the horsemeat scandal and suffered a 10.4% decline, on volumes down 9.9%.

Meanwhile, sales growth of frozen poultry products has continued, with value rising 4.7% to £382m on volumes up 3.8%. “Poultry is on-trend, healthy and highly expandable because of its versatility,” said Andy Weston-Webb, MD of Birds Eye.

Bernard Matthews claims volume sales of its frozen poultry range have grown 9.6% in the past year, buoyed by strong performance of Mini Kievs, Golden Drummers and its turkey Numbers kids range.

“Poultry sales have certainly seen a positive increase,” said Clement Rouillard, category controller at Bernard Matthews. “The frozen poultry sector benefits from brands who support the frozen category, which is helping to positively change perceptions of frozen food.”

Frozen burgers were also losing out to fresh, said Mike Whittemore, Eblex head of trade marketing: “After the initial widespread rejection of burgers and other processed products post-Horsegate, consumers have come back into the burger sector but are opting for fresh, particularly premium tier, products.”

Despite the decline in frozen burgers, Birds Eye says sales of its own frozen beef burgers and grills, which account for 7% of total brand sales, have surged 28.5% since the brand introduced DNA testing last year.