The pork industry is on alert following the outbreak of the swine flu virus, while airline and travel companies are already seeing falls in global shares.
Soya and corn prices in the US have started to fall following fears the flu outbreak could lead to a drop in demand for pork and pig meat products.
While the Food Standards Agency has released a statement saying the outbreak in Mexico and the US “does not pose a food safety risk to consumers” there are concerns that consumer perceptions may not reflect reality.
A Sainsbury’s spokesman says it is too early to say if the swine flu will have any effect on sales of pork products, but its customer service staff have been thoroughly “briefed on the latest information” to deal with consumer enquiries.
Similarly, pie and sausage roll producer Pork Farms says it will be closely watching any changes to consumer purchasing habits.
General manger Nigel White says: “We will keep a watching brief on this and continue to listen to our consumers. Should their needs change, or if they require further reassurance that swine flu is not linked to eating pork products, we’ll then decide what action to take.”
Meanwhile, several UK travel operators have already cancelled flights to Mexico. On Tuesday (28 April) shares in British Airways were down 5.5%, Carnival Group Cruises fell 5.3%, and travel company TUI was down 4.7%.
In contrast, the pharmaceutical industry has seen share growth, particularly Roche, which makes anti-flu drug Tamiflu, and GlaxoSmithKline, which makes anti-flu drug Relenza.