Sales of bacon and sausages fell by £3m in two weeks since WHO claimed processed meats were a major cause of cancer
Bacon and sausages have been cut out of many people’s shopping baskets, suggesting they have been scared away from buying processed meat following a World Health Organisation report that claimed it was a major cause of cancer.
Supermarkets across the UK reported a £3m drop in sales of sausages and bacon in the two weeks after the report’s publication, as shoppers digested the news and considered the health effects of eating them.
Sales of prepacked sausages took a hit and were down by 15.7% at the end of October. Prepacked bacon saw an even sharper decline of 17%, a week after the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) report published by the WHO, which said processed meats rank alongside smoking as a cause of cancer.
The following week, at the beginning of November, sales of bacon were down by 16.5%. Sales of sausages, heavily promoted by some stores during bonfire week, according to retail analysts, were down by 13.9%. Other prepacked meats also saw a decline in sales, down by 10% overall.
Three weeks after the WHO report, sales have not yet picked up. It emerged on Monday that the trend of low sales has continued this month, with IRI Retail Advantage data reporting that in the second week of November, prepacked bacon was down by 15.2% and prepacked sausages down by 13.5%, compared with 2014 sales.
Martin Wood, the head of strategic insight, retail solutions and innovation at IRI, said: “While there have been links between certain types of meat and some forms of cancer before, this announcement from a highly respected global body was picked up widely by the media and has had an immediate impact on some people’s shopping choices.
“It’s interesting that we saw these trends across all of the retailers, not just some,” he added. With overall spending on fresh meat and other products such as eggs staying broadly consistent, it suggested shoppers were switching to other meat products, Wood said.
“What came out of our analysis was that premium products were more affected overall. This may have been down to the credibility and science behind the story that resonated more with educated consumers and led them to make more informed, and possibly more expensive, alternative choices,” he added.
The analysts predicted the long-term impact on sales of processed meat will differ from the impact of the horsemeat scandal of 2013, when there was a large short-term drop in sales affecting certain retailers and brands, but with higher-quality products benefiting.
This article was written by Aisha Gani, for theguardian.com on Monday 23rd November 2015 15.50 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010