91% of PR experts believe the horsemeat scandal has negatively impacted on future trust in meat products


London, 19 February 2013 - A survey of PR leaders has found that 91% believe that the horsemeat scandal will have either a significant or marginal negative impact on trust in meat products in the future.

The survey of agency bosses and in-house communications directors conducted by the PRCA found that 50% believe that the horsemeat scandal will have a significantly negative impact on trust in meat products in the future. A further 41% believe it will have a marginally negative impact.

Three quarters (77%) of respondents believe that the horsemeat scandal will continue to escalate. 56% believe that food producers’ reputations have been most harmed by the crisis, over and above supermarkets (36%) and the Government/Food Standards Agency (8%).

89% suggested that Iceland CEO Malcolm Walker’s decision to blame councils for the horsemeat crisis was a bad decision.

What the industry experts say:

PRCA Director General Francis Ingham said: “There have clearly been some major losers in the horsemeat scandal. The Government has come out of this surprisingly well, while some food manufacturers have been deeply damaged by the whole issue.”

Speaking about Findus’ response to the crisis, Storm Communications CEO Derek Lowe said: “Findus should have given a full and honest disclosure of the problem, expressed corporate shock that they had been let down so badly by their suppliers and their own quality control procedures, and a given a vigorous explanation of measures to ensure it will never happen again. Another shocking example of the head-in-the sand mentality of in-house crisis comms teams, with no game planning of how it could play out in the media.”

Rob Metcalfe, MD of Richmond Towers Communications, added: “They (Findus) should hang their heads in shame at the damage they have allowed to their brand. They were too slow to accept the blame, be publicly contrite, and resolve to do everything it takes to restore the good name of Findus. That delay suggests they just don't care about their brand or their consumers.”



1.    Whose reputation has come out of the horsemeat crisis the worst?

The Government / FSA                         8%

Supermarkets                                      36%

Producers / suppliers                         56%


2.    Who has handled the on-going crisis the best?

The Government / FSA                      44%

Supermarkets                                     50%

Producers / suppliers                        6%


3.    What impact will this have on trust in meat products in the future?

Significantly positive                          1%

Marginally positive                             3%

No impact                                           4%

Marginally negative                           41%

Significantly negative                        50%


4.    How satisfied have you been with the Government’s response?

Very satisfied                                       8%

Quite satisfied                                    41%

Don’t know                                         11%

Quite dissatisfied                               30%

Very dissatisfied                                 11%


5.    Was it a good decision for Iceland’s CEO Malcolm Walker to blame councils for the horsemeat crisis?

Yes                                                       6%

No                                                       89%

Don’t know                                          4%


6.    Do you expect this crisis to continue to escalate?

Yes                                                      77%

No                                                       17%

Don’t know                                          6%



  -ENDS -

Notes to editors

For more information on the PRCA's research, please contact tom.hawkins@prca.org.uk on 020 7233 6026 

About the PRCA

Who we are: Founded in 1969, the PRCA is the professional body that represents UK PR consultancies, in-house communications teams, and PR individuals. The PRCA promotes all aspects of public relations and internal communications work, helping teams and individuals maximise the value they deliver to clients and organisations.

What we do: The Association exists to raise standards in PR and communications, providing members with industry data, facilitating the sharing of communications best practice and creating networking opportunities.

How we do it and make a difference: All PRCA members are bound by a professional charter and codes of conduct, and benefit from exceptional training. The Association also works for the greater benefit of the industry, sharing best practice and lobbying on the industry's behalf e.g. fighting the NLA's digital licence.

Who we represent: The PRCA represents many of the major consultancies in the UK, and currently has more than 300 agency members from around the world, including the majority of the top 150 UK consultancies. We also represent over 100 in-house communications teams from multinationals, UK charities and leading UK public sector organisations.

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