Sales of frozen products in the UK, Ireland and France have taken a hit from the horsemeat contamination scandal, data has revealed.

Sales of frozen burgers in UK and Irish stores have fallen by around 40% and sales of frozen foods in France have also slumped in the wake of the Europe-wide horsemeat scandal.

Fgures from Nielsen for the UK market show retail sales of frozen burgers, the product that sparked the horsemeat revelations last month, are down 40% year-on-year to 2 February. The decline, the analysts say, is almost entirely down to a fall in sales of retailer’s own-label burgers, with sales of branded burgers increasing.

A survey from Nielsen also claimed 67% of British adults say they are now less likely to purchase processed meat products in the future. The research analysts said all major retailers have seen a decline in sales as consumer confidence takes a severe blow.

“Shoppers are showing confidence in branded burgers, believing that the horsemeat issues are confined to retailer own-label products,” said Nielsen frozen food analyst Richard Anderson. “Those continuing to buy frozen burgers have either shifted to buying branded products from own label, or have added branded products to their repertoire of purchases.”

In Ireland, figures from Nielsen TSR reveal a 44% drop in the sale of frozen burgers in the week ending 27 January, according to the Irish Independent. Sales of other frozen meat products were down 11% compared to the same week last year.

Fresh beef, however, has not been affected by the scare, with sales of pre-packed and loose beef from supermarket meat counters up 2.7% on a year ago. The figures relate to total sales across Tesco, SuperValu, Superquinn, Eurospar and Marks and Spencer.

The data shows the decline began as soon as the Food Safety Authority of Ireland probe was published in mid-January.

In France, French agriculture minister Stephane Le Foll said this week that frozen food sales were down in France. According to BFM TV, Le Foll said sales of frozen foods have fallen by 5% since the beginning of the scandal.

The impact of the horsemeat contamination saga continues to grow. Lidl today confirmed it has recalled products in Sweden, Finland and Denmark. Meanwhile, Nestle last night announced the recall of two beef ready meals on sale in Spain and Italy after tests returned positive for horse DNA.