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article imageHorsemeat scandal: UK consumers reject frozen foods

By Eileen Kersey     Feb 14, 2013 in Food
The frozen food industry in the UK is huge. The frozen food section of large UK supermarkets is often the most profitable part of the store. Now, as the horsemeat scandal deepens, consumers are rejecting frozen foods.
Since revelations in the UK that some food products labelled as containing 100% Beef actually contained anything but, a deepening food crisis has hit retailers and consumers. Thursday the BBC has breaking news that, French meat processing company Spanghero sold meat labelled as beef despite knowing it could have been horsemeat, the French government has said.
The company's license is being suspended while investigations continue, consumer Affairs Minister Benoit Hamon said.
Spanghero is part of a food supply chain that saw horsemeat sold as beef in at least 12 European countries.
Spanghero has denied the allegations
European confidence in the food industry is at an all time low. As consumers turn away from products such as frozen ready-meals supermarket profits will nose dive.
Digital Journal spoke to a worker at UK supermarket Asda. She was told that Asda was not involved in the horsemeat scandal when it began but that the company immediately acted. Tesco was the first supermarket to test positive for horsemeat in beefburgers labelled as containing 100% beef. Asda however took the cautious route. It withdrew many products from its frozen food departments rather than leave consumers concerned.
The problem though is that stores such as Tesco, Morrisons and Asda all run profitable frozen food sections. Supermarket competition in the UK is high. Prices are undercut and supermarkets fight hard to win customers over. The so called 'horsemeat scandal' may cause a re-think.
Currently consumers are opting to buy ingredients and make their own meals. This is no bad thing. Traditionally made meals sometimes work out cheaper in the long run and of course you know what is in them.
However, we wonder just how true that is.
If we cannot trust our food labelling how do we know what ingredients are in cereals, minced beef, soups and more. Do modern consumers have the time and the will to revert back to cooking 'as mother used to do', or should that be grandmother?
Home-made meat pies, pastries, cakes, biscuits and fruit pies can cost more. They can however be much tastier. Even with labour-saving devices they take time to make. In our 'hurry-up' lifestyles of the 21st Century even waiting 60 seconds for a microwave dish can seem an eternity.
The shift away from frozen foods could be temporary. If confidence is restored in the food industry consumers may be wooed back. However that will not be easy.
The problem in the UK is that the dominance of large supermarkets has led to the end of many small shops such as local butchers. Shopping elsewhere than supermarkets is not so easy.
If consumers have shifted away from frozen foods en masse supermarkets will need overhauling. The layout and design of stores will need changing. With profits initially cut can supermarkets afford this horsemeat scandal? The answer of course is no. There is no end in sight yet. Instead the food industry is lurching from one piece of bad news to another.
Nestle hit the nail on the head, Thursday. As Fox News reports Nestle is not directly affected by the horsemeat food scandal but as confidence in the food industry dips in Europe, Nestle admits that the 'whole industry is in question'.
Within 30 minutes of completing this report SkyNews reported that Asda had withdrawn its 500g Beef Bolognese sauce and that three men had been arrested at plants in Aberystwyth and Todmorden, West Yorkshire. These plants were inspected on Tuesday by the Food Standards Agency. Sky reports the full list of UK withdrawn foods, at time of writing, as,
Tesco, Lidl, Waitrose, Sainsburys, Iceland, Asda, Co-Op and Dunnes: Dalepak own-label beefburgers
Aldi: Dalepak's Specially Selected Aberdeen Angus Quarter Pounders, Oakhurst Beef Quarter Pounders and Frozen Oakhurst Beefburgers, Today's Special Frozen Beef Lasagne, Today's Special Frozen Spaghetti Bolognese
Tesco: Everyday Value beefburgers and Beef Quarter Pounders
Asda: four lines of Freeza Meats frozen burgers
Asda: Smart Price Economy beefburgers
Asda: 500g Beef Bolognese sauce
Asda: 600g Beef Broth Soup
Asda: 500g Meat Feast Pasta Sauce
Asda: 400g Chilli Con Carne Soup
Findus UK: beef lasagne 320g, 360g, 500g
Aldi: Today's Special frozen beef lasagne
Aldi: Today's Special frozen spaghetti bolognese
Tesco: Everyday Value spaghetti bolognese
Waitrose: Essential British Frozen Meatballs 480g
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