Not a sausage: Sales of processed meat including sausages and bacon fall in wake of WHO report

Catherine Neilan
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A butcher (background) sells pork sausag
Sausage sales are down (Source: Getty)

British consumers appear to have been scared away from buying processed meats on the back of the World Health Organisation's report, claiming it was a major cause of cancer.

Supermarkets across the country have reported a £3m drop in sales of sausages and bacon in the two weeks following the report's publication as shoppers consider the health effects of eating these kinds of products.

According to analysts at IRI Retail Advantage, sales of pre-packed bacon had fallen 17 per cent in last week of October, and were down 16.5 per cent the week after, "due to the scare".

Pre-packed sausages suffered a similar fate, with sales down 15.6 per cent ant 13.9 per cent respectively.

The analyst firm said this represented an incremental sales drop of around 10 per cent.

"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,” according to Martin Wood, head of strategic insight for retail solutions and innovation at IRI.

“It’s interesting that we saw these trends across all of the retailers, not just some, and a notable lack of impact on items like eggs, fresh meat and other adjacent categories.

"Also, 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.”

While he shied away from making any long-term conclusions, Wood said retailers might want to consider "non-processed alternatives" if there is a shift in eating habits.

"This is an opportunity for retailers to look at their ranges and focus on non-processed products, like premium mince and fresh burgers, for example, as well as premium and smoked non-meat products like fish, he said. "However it is still early days.”

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