Birds Eye pledges to only buy Irish and British meat

Despite being caught up in horsemeat scandal, burger sales remain buoyant



10 June 2013

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Frozen food and ready-meal company Birds Eye, which was forced to withdraw a number of products during the horse meat scandal, has announced that it will buy all its meat in future from British and Irish farmers.

The food company withdrew its spaghetti bolognese, beef lasagne and shepherd’s pie in February after small traces of horse meat were found in them. The meat had been supplied by an Irish company which had imported it from the continent.

From this month all Birds Eye burgers, which never had to be removed during the crisis, will be made from British and Irish-reared meat, while all other products – ready-meals, roast dinners and pies – will be made from Irish and British meat by the end of the year. Despite suffering embarrassment over its ready- meals, Birds Eye has enjoyed strong burger sales in Britain and Ireland in recent months. Since mid-February it has seen burger sales rise by nearly 12%.

The company, which is owned by a private equity firm, has enjoyed even better tidings recently, with burger sales up by 73% over the last four weeks. Up to now, Birds Eye has mostly used Irish and British beef in its burgers, though supplies from Argentina and continental Europe were used in other products. Like many firms, however, it is now trying to shorten its supply chain in a bid to stop a repetition of the horse meat crisis.

Birds Eye managing director Andy Weston-Webb says its Irish problems were down to its supplier: "The problem wasn’t Irish, it was a company issue, rather than a provenance issue."



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