The high-value chilled ready meals sector has been dragged into the horsemeat scandal, with an 11% decline in volume sales, The Grocer can reveal.

Chilled ready meal sales were initially unaffected - holding up in the four-week period after the scandal broke - but fell 10.8% by volume to 33.7 million kgs, and 3.3% by value to £190.6m year-on-year in the four weeks to 17 March [Kantar Worldpanel].

“With most consumers not really knowing who makes them - or understanding differences in the frozen and chilled supply chains - they would assume it was the same ingredients and/or suppliers, so both would have been affected,” said Kay Staniland, director at promotional consultancy Assosia.

Last month, at its first quarter results, 2 Sisters Food Group said of its chilled division: “We expect considerable volume reduction in beef-related ready meals during the second half year, following horsemeat issues affecting the food industry.” It was not implicated in the scandal.