Horsemeat benefits Morrisons

February 27, 2013, 10:28 AM GMT+0

Morrisons is among the winners of the ongoing scandal, suggests YouGov CEO Stephan Shakespeare

Ikea now joins the long list of brands to get hit by the horsemeat scandal. We won’t have numbers until later today but judging from what happened to Tesco, the Swedish group may well have a problem.

The first time I wrote on this subject back in January, I said it might turn out to be a storm in a teacup, as the Tesco brand was recovering from its initial hit.

The second time we looked at this, we saw the Findus twist bring new energy to the story and as the chart shows, Tesco’s Buzz score – which tracks whether consumers have heard something positive or negative about a brand – went further down and is only showing the very first signs of recovery in the last week.

Ikea withdrew its meatball products in more than 20 countries this week after becoming the latest company to uncover horsemeat on its menu.

The company should certainly be prepared for a fall; it remains to be seen how far and how long the fall will last.

Consumers are paying attention

For food and supermarket brands we have seen some signs of a “knock-on” effect, with perception of brands falling regardless of whether or not they have been directly implicated in the horsemeat scandal.

That said, the examples of Morrisons and McDonald’s demonstrate that consumers are in fact paying attention to which brands have been tainted by horsemeat and which have not.

The scandal has helped some firms

Morrisons has been vocal about the fact that it sources its meat direct from farmers, and as a result it is the only UK supermarket to see its perception among consumers actually improve in the wake of the horsemeat scandal.

When the story first broke, its Buzz score stood at 2.8, and according to the latest figures it now stands at a stunning 17.9.

Likewise, McDonald’s suffered a fall in perception around the time rival Burger King was found to have sold burgers contaminated by horsemeat, but because the brand has remained horse-free its Buzz score is barely changed from where it was pre-horsemeat (minus 1.8 versus minus 2.4).

Meanwhile, Burger King has started to recover but is still a long way from where it was, at minus 0.6, compared to minus 15.9 now.

Buzz scores: