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Thursday, 19 September 2013

Has the Horse Meat Crisis Affected Consumer Confidence?

Over the last few days the headlines have been dominated by the horse meat crisis which continues to evolve and grow on a daily basis. Initially it was thought only a handful of products were directly linked to horse meat although over the last couple of days we have seen this number grow significantly. There are now rumours and counter rumours with regards to suppliers of beef and other meats in the UK and indeed what our food actually contains.

Has consumer confidence been hit?

There is no doubt that consumer confidence has been hit in the short to medium term amid signs that many people are concerned about exactly what they are eating. Food labels which many us depend upon to see exactly what we were eating now appear to have been incorrect in some situations and there is a lack of confidence going forward.

While the news continues to attract calls for government heads to roll, companies to be taken to court and other drastic measures, perhaps we should look at the fact that this food contamination has been found amid growing concerns that this is something of a criminal master plan taking in many different suppliers around the world. These rumours have yet to be substantiated but as each day brings yet more bad news there is growing concern of a wider problem.

Does this open up the market for local produce?

Perhaps the only positive note from the ongoing horse meat investigation is the fact that more and more people are now looking to buy local, they are looking to buy from their local butcher, local food producer and indeed it seems as though they are willing to pay that little bit extra to know exactly where their food is coming from and what it contains. This has opened up a very interesting market for gourmet food which includes gourmet pies and other products which may well have fallen off the radar over recent years but are now making a comeback.

Local councils will also be hot on the trail of the larger food producers and there will inevitably be an increase in the cost of regulating this industry. The situation is likely to be very different for those local producers using local ingredients, which is where the smaller gourmet pie companies can come in.

Do you get what you pay for?

For many years now people have wondered exactly what was in their food with great concerns about those foods at the lower end of the market. The fact is that consumers and retailers have been pushing their suppliers for ever more competitive pricing which in many ways has helped to create the environment in which this horse meat scandal has been revealed.

Perhaps now we may move back towards the good old fashion, you get what you pay for, and people may now be willing to pay that little bit extra for quality produce. That's not to say that budget food and budget ranges will disappear but the fact is that many more people will now be a little wary of those at the cheaper end of the market and perhaps more willing to spend more of their monthly budget on higher quality and ultimately more expensive products.

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