Sales of frozen hamburgers from major retailers in the United Kingdom plummeted after the horse meat scandal that has deeply shaken public confidence in processed meat in Europe, a consumer research firm said.
From Jan. 17 to Feb. 17, sales of frozen hamburgers fell by a full 43 percent in the United Kingdom, according to the London-based group Kantar Worldpanel, which gathers consumer data from about 30,000 households throughout the U.K.
However, the findings, which were published Tuesday, revealed that despite the drop in burger sales, supermarkets have not lost customers.
“The issue has so far only affected the performance of individual markets rather than where consumers are choosing to shop," the group's director, Edward Garner, said in a press release. "For the four weeks ending 17 February, frozen burger sales were down by 43% and frozen ready meals declined by 13%, clearly demonstrating a change in shopping habits."
In light of recent events, shoppers' reluctance to buy frozen burgers may not be so surprising. Although the latest news has focused on Ikea's recalls of its sausages and its famous Swedish meatballs from stores in many countries, the horse meat scandal began back on Jan. 15, when the Irish officials said they found that 10 different kinds of burger products being sold all over the U.K. contained horse meat.
About 10 days later, Burger King dropped its Irish beef supplier, Silvercrest, after Silvercrest shut down its production line and withdrew 10 million burgers from sellers throughout the U.K., the Associated Press notes.
Since then, there's been a domino-like effect of horse meat revelations, as a number of major beef companies and supermarket chains operating throughout the U.K. and Europe have been forced to recall dozens of beef products that tested positive for horse meat.
During the maelstrom, prominent politicians and officials in the U.K., including Prime Minister David Cameron, have promised investigations and criminal proceedings for the offenders, but although a number of arrests have been made, the scandal is still far from over.