Bernard Matthews says retail sales of its Turkey Twizzlers have gone up, despite being attacked by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver and banned from the menus of many school dinners.
The company has accused Oliver of unfairly targeting the brand in his TV series Jamie’s School Dinners, which has become a rallying point for health groups campaigning against child obesity.
MD David Joll told The Grocer that retail sales of Twizzlers had risen in the past two weeks, despite the bad publicity and ban by school catering company Scholarest, which supplies about 2,000 schools.
Joll stressed the company had no plans to withdraw a product that was reformulated last year
to contain 7% fat per 100g (cooked), which falls well within the 10% allowed in schools. “We have been very unfairly treated over a turkey product, which is the least fatty of all meats,” he said. “We were picked out by Oliver because everyone has heard of Bernard Matthews, yet we are a company that has been responding to health concerns for years and going down the low-fat route. A Twizzler has much less fat than a sausage, yet we don’t hear Oliver telling people not to eat sausages.”
Joll said the company had been progressively reducing fat and salt content, and had a range of NPD planned for 2005 centering around healthier options and turkey.
However, he agreed with Oliver - who has launched a campaign calling for kids to be no longer served “junk” in schools that is being supported by 116 MPs - that 37p per child was inadequate for a meal.
The company has been sending nutritional information about Twizzlers to schools. They have been replaced in schools with Turkey Premier, which has more fat than Twizzlers at 8.6% per 100g (cooked).
Claire Hu and Sonya Hook