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Nearly Half Of Consumers Doubt Ready Meal Meat And Fish Authenticity
A recent study by Leatherhead Food Research reveals that up to 43% of consumers are not confident that chilled and frozen ready meals contain the meat or fish specified on the label.
Survey respondents were asked to rank their confidence that the meat and fish products they buy actually contain the species indicated on a scale of one to ten, where ten represents ‘completely confident’.
Meat-based chilled and frozen ready meals were among the worst performers in the survey with an average confidence score of 5.6. Fish-based chilled and frozen ready meals scored 6.3. Other processed meat and fish from supermarkets, such as sausages and fish fingers, were ranked at 6.8 and 7.2, respectively.
Leatherhead believes that the horsemeat scandal of 2013 could be the root cause of the problem. It is now urging frozen and chilled ready meal manufacturers and retailers to talk more openly about their food fraud prevention strategies to boost consumer confidence. Leatherhead has also published a White Paper, Detecting and Deterring Meat and Fish Adulteration, exploring the issue and considering how the industry can seek to rebuild consumer trust.
Leatherhead has also developed an advanced species authenticity testing technology making it quicker and easier to identify or rule out species adulteration.
Traditional tests only target one known or suspected adulterant at a time, which needs to be specified at the outset. This limiting factor has been overcome in Leatherhead’s new single-test multi-species analysis technique. It can be used on raw or cooked processed foods and mixtures as well as whole meat and fish to detect the presence of any biological adulterant.
This more reliable, cost-effective species authenticity testing capability could play a critical role aiding adherence to the new BRC Global Food Safety Standard requirements surrounding food fraud. However, further action is required to help overcome enduring consumer doubts over species authenticity.
“The food industry needs to take a multi-layered approach to address the myriad issues associated with food fraud,” says Dr Monee Shamsher, Research Scientist at Leatherhead. “Our new species authenticity testing technology puts the power back into the hands of manufacturers and retailers, but it is only one part of the equation. An assertive, proactive and transparent response is required to tackle confidence issues for consumers. That means acknowledging the risk of food fraud, and demonstrating that decisive measures are being taken to combat the problem. Communicating this publically is one way to show consumers that the industry has their best interests at heart, and it could also play a vital role in deterring fraudsters.”
Supermarkets Continue To Fall Apart From Morrisons And Discounters
The latest grocery share figures from Kantar Worldpanel for the 12 weeks ending 21 June show the overall grocery market slipping back into decline with 0.1% less going through the tills compared to last year. However, against this backdrop, some individual supermarkets have shown growth.
Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar Worldpanel, explains: “Morrisons has seen the largest sales increase among the ‘big four’ retailers for the second month in a row, recording a sales growth of 0.6%, which has been supported by an increase in online shopping. Continuing to grow ahead of the market, the retailer has increased its market share to 11.0%, up 0.1 percentage points compared with a year ago. While only a small increase against a weak 2014, this does represent the first market share gains made by Morrisons since December 2011.”
“Last seen in November, the return to marginal decline across the grocery market reflects both falling prices and only steady volume growth. Sales volumes are up 2% compared to a year ago but are not anticipated to accelerate, even with an improving economy, as demand for groceries has remained broadly steady since before the recession.”
Groceries are now 1.7% cheaper compared with a year ago. Prices have been falling since September 2014, but the rate of decline is slowing meaning they are projected to rise again by the end of this year.
Sales fell by 1.3% at both Tesco and Sainsbury’s. This took market share down to 28.6% and 16.5% respectively, a decrease of 0.3 and 0.2 percentage points. At Asda sales were down by 3.5%, leaving the retailer with a 16.5% share, compared with 17.1% last year. In contrast at the Co-operative sales were flat, but were crucially ahead of the market for the first time in nearly four years. Helped in part by more shoppers visiting the stores, the retailer’s market share held steady at 6.2%.
Aldi and Lidl showed no signs of slowing down and are continuing to take share away from the competition. The two discounters increased their sales by 15.4% and 9.1% respectively. Aldi reached a new high with a 5.5% share of the market while Lidl, also showing continued growth, rose to 3.9%. Waitrose also grew ahead of the market, with sales increasing by 1.2%, moving to a 5.1% share.