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Family Butchers See Sales Rise After Horsemeat Scandal Hits Supermarkets

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Butchers are seeing a resurgence in interest in fresh meat in the wake of the horse meat scandal
Butchers are seeing a resurgence in interest in fresh meat in the wake of the horse meat scandal

Family butchers have reported a surge in sales following the fallout of the horsemeat scandal, but the spike could disappear unless action is taken to change the public's view of processed meat forever.

Ready meal manufacturers have been hit by the horsemeat furore, which first surfaced last month after Tesco found some of its beef burgers, supplied by French firm Comigel, contained meat from horses.

It later found spaghetti bolognese ready meals had also been affected.

Findus has been forced to take its beef lasagne - also made by Comigel - off the shelves after some were found to have up to 100% horse meat in them.

Aldi, also supplied by Comigel, removed its beef burgers and lasagne after finding evidence of horsemeat in both.

All three supermarkets have dropped the French manufacturer as a result.

Shoppers' confidence has been dented as a result, leading to many heading back to small family butchers to buy locally sourced meat.

The Butchers Q Guild, a membership of organisation of 110 independent butchers across the UK, told Farmers Weekly the scare has sent customers back to traditional butchers with increased sales reported from all its members.

Brindon Addy, owner and master butcher of Addy's Butchers in Hade Edge, West Yorkshire, and chairman of the Butchers Q Guild, noted a 10% increase in sales since the scandal broke, with a 30% increase in sales of fresh burgers.

"Since the horsemeat scandal hit the news I think consumers have become aware that there isn't transparency in purchasing meat, in particular, burgers, from their supermarket," Addy told the trade magazine.

"This isn't the case with our butchers, who can show the provenance of all the products they sell. We pride ourselves on being able to deliver from farm to plate and knowing each step of that process."

The Huffington Post UK spoke to John Walker, national chairman at the Federation of Small Businesses, who told us he wasn't surprised local butchers were seeing an increase in trade.

"Small independent stores, such as the local butcher, will often provide some of the best quality produce. Through keeping trade local, customers will be supporting their local community as well as getting a good quality product."

HuffPost UK also spoke to Johnny Pusztai, a family butcher from JT Beedham and Sons in Nottingham, who said he'd seen an increase in sales last Saturday as a direct result of the horsemeat scandal.

"We're a little shop with a huge reputation, and the problem for supermarkets is they used big shops with little reputations," he said.

"People are now asking themselves what they're getting in those deals for two for a fiver. If the supermarket and the supplier, the abbatoir and the farmer, and others are all taking their cut, you've got to see that something's not right there (to only be charging £5).

However, the recent interest in finding out about where your meat comes from may dissipate as the scandal moves out of the media spotlight, according to some food experts.

Roger Kelsey, chief executive of the National Federation of Meat and Food Traders, told FW: "For the general public, dealing with a local butcher has a hands-on appeal - you know you are buying meat that has been sourced locally.

"It's just a question of how long this lasts. Once the media loses interest and it is out of the public eye, people tend to revert back to their usual buying trends, although some do continue to buy from butchers."

Pusztai agreed, telling HuffPost UK that the "mass majority of consumers will forget about it" once the media interest has died down.

"Food is low down on the priority list for most people; they want two cars, and a fantastic TV, a dvd player and a kitchen with all the mod cons, and only after all that do they consider their food," said Pusztai.

"The responsibility to change that attitude lies with schools - bring back home economics and bring butchers into schools to teach five and six year olds where their meat comes from."

Pusztai works with local inner city schools currently and says the kids are always keen to learn how to make their own burgers.

"There's no connection between what's on their plate and where it come from at the moment, and that's reinforced by parents taking their kids to McDonalds, Wimpy's or taking a frozen burger out of a packet."

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