29 November 1996

Seal marks approval for burgers

By Shelley Wright

BUILDING on the success of the quality mince campaign, the Meat and Livestock Commission launched a beefburger quality mark this week.

But while MLC put £3.5m into the mince campaign, only £1m will be used for burgers, because that is all the money the commission has left in its beef budget for the financial year to Mar 31, 1997.

Don Curry, MLC chairman, believes that extending the quality mark from mince to burgers is a logical step. "There is obvious consumer concern about burgers and we really need to give them the confidence the quality mark provides," he said at the show.

He said the mince campaign returned £35m in extra sales from a £3.5m investment. Although the market is still down 23% on the level achieved before the beef crisis began on Mar 20, Mr Curry pointed out that sales had plummeted by 40% within a fortnight of governments announcement of a possible link between BSE and the human brain disease CJD.

The beefburger market, which was worth £48m a year, is still 45% down. "We really need high spending to get visibility for the new burger mark, and to continue to promote the mince mark," Mr Curry said.

He has asked government for £15m, and the EU commission for £2m, to help fund the increased promotions MLC believes are needed in the coming two years. But while he is "reasonably optimistic" of getting some cash from Europe, Mr Curry said government has still not responded.

"Consumers need to be assured that what they are buying is safe, and the longer they stay away from beef the harder it will be to win them back. Getting money in a years time is no good, we need it now."n

MLCs John Ross shows new logo.


BURGER MARK


&#8226 Builds on quality mince mark.

&#8226 Guarantees beef comes from cattle under 30 months or government approved scheme.

&#8226 Major retailer support.

&#8226 In shops this week.