British families threw away a staggering 18 million processed meals following the recent food scandals. This equates to around 13.5 thousand tonnes of ready meals dumped after the discovery of horsemeat and other secret ingredients including high salt and sugar content found in packs of convenience foods.
New research reveals that 24 per cent of Britons say that 'they have cut down on the amount of processed food they eat' as a result of the perceived health risks, with the typical family intending to spend £1,762 on fresh food within the next 12 months.
The survey, commissioned by French cookware and small appliance manufacturer Tefal, indicates that the kerfuffle has led to Britons actively turning to fresh food.
To capitalize on the trend, they've launched launched Fresh Week, which challenges people to give up all processed meals for a week, in favour of fresh food. It will run from today (Monday 13th May) until Sunday 19th May.
The study conducted by ICM, questioned 2,007 people about their eating and purchasing habits following 'recent well-publicised food scandals.'
The reported change in eating habits has seen apples top the list of fruits people are eating more of compared to pre-scandal limits, with garden peas in the number one spot for vegetables.
Obviously, this signals good news for the 'fruit 'n' veg' industry, but clearly not so for the processed food market.
The big question is: "is the processed food industry in terminal decline or can convenience food manufacturers survive this latest series of scandals?"
The short answer is 'yes'. Or that should be 'yes...but.'
It will take time in addition to honesty, transparency and patience among and between the manufacturers, retailers and regulators.
After all, Britain survived the 'Mad Cow Disease' (BSE) scandal.
Beyond the expected increase in health checks on meat sources and slaughterhouse conditions to maintain the 'integrity' of the meat, they face the massive challenge of dealing with widespread (and nagging) perceptions of the health risks from eating processed meat products.
This may ultimately lead to higher prices at the checkout, but I would hazard a guess that consumers would tolerate paying more for their convenience foods when they know what exactly is in it.
The meat content of a beef lasagne contain just that.
No horses allowed.
Thoughts on customer service, communication and, of course, reputation management.