Brits wolfed down more than 40 million beefburgers last summer, but with confidence in beef supply at its lowest since BSE, can the beef market possibly sustain its market share this season? Recent data paints a mixed picture.

A YouGov survey for Eblex found in February that just 24% would change the amount of fresh beef cuts they eat. For fresh mince that figure was 29%. But for frozen beef the figure was much higher - 76% said they’d change the amount of frozen mince they eat and 69% said they’d change the amount of frozen cuts they eat.

The survey also showed that traceability of burger meat has become more important. In January it was very or fairly important for 72% of people. In February that number had reached 80%.

“People aren’t stupid,” says Mike Whittemore, head of trade marketing for Eblex. “They understand that the scandal is affecting processed, imported products and as such is unlikely to have an impact on fresh, British beef.”

Premium burgers are expected to benefit as consumers trade up. “We’re still trying to understand how people are feeling since the horsemeat scandal hit the headlines but our rate of sale has actually increased,” says James Beaumont, marketing manager for All About Food, which makes the Gourmet Burger Kitchen-branded 100% Aberdeen Angus beefburgers.

Denhay Farms marketing manager Richard Hogg says communication is essential. “If you’re selling high-welfare British foods, the more credible sources you put on the pack to give customers greater confidence, the better.”

However there are signs that the public mood is changing. A YouGov survey for The Grocer last week measured retailers and brands’ ‘buzzscores’ by charting negative and positive comments made about them. Tesco’s score plummeted to -52.4 in February but has since rallied to -13.9.


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