THE horsemeat scandal may be neigh laughing matter for some, but butchers in the Capital have found it has got customers galloping back through their doors.
Independent stores say they have seen sales of their products, in particular burgers and mince, soar in the wake of the growing food furore, which began when horsemeat was found in supermarket products advertised as beef.
The stampede back to butchers has escalated in the wake of the Food Standards Agency’s revelation that Findus lasagne dishes were 100 per cent horsemeat.
Traders are now hoping there will be a sustained resurgence in the number of people choosing to purchase meat from their local butcher, as opposed to larger supermarkets or chains.
Pauline Kay, manager of Charles Wilson in Corstorphine, said there has been a noticeable upturn in trade.
She said: “All the customers have been talking about the scandal and saying they’ll be using the butchers from now on. Hopefully this will lead to a bit of a renaissance in local butcher sales.
“We’ve always sold lots of mince, but burgers are definitely selling more. I would say we’re selling between ten and 15 per cent more than normal.”
At Findlays of Portobello, staff have been swamped with requests for no- nonsense cuts of beef.
Owner Joe Findlay, who has been plying his trade at the spot since 1974, said: “Our sales of burgers and mince are most definitely up and I thank the Irish for it! I would say sales have risen by about ten or 15 per cent, which is certainly good news for us. People do seem to be serious about keeping coming back rather than taking any chances.”
He added: “I think when it comes to things like steak, for example, people will still perhaps choose to buy from a supermarket, but they’ll be more careful when it comes to mince-based products.”
Bosses at John Lawson Butchers & Delicatessen in Uphall say they have seen trade increase by ten per cent in the wake of the scandal, with freshly made beef burger sales up 30 per cent.
John Lawson said: “We can’t believe how many beef burgers are flying off our shelves. More and more customers are coming through the door. This has been a real win for not only us but the Q Guild as a whole.”
Crombies, in Broughton Street, has a huge sign in its window declaring it a horse-free zone.
Sandy Crombie, who took over control of the shop in 1962 following his father’s death, said: “Trade is definitely up. All the customers have been saying they will be coming here in future as they know exactly what they are getting. It started off as a bit of a laugh at first, but this situation with the horsemeat is getting more serious and will have serious legal repercussions.
“People won’t forget this scandal in a hurry – they will want to get their meat from someone they can trust.”
Mark Smith, of George Bower Butcher, Stockbridge, said he had noticed more people coming in for mince.
He said: “We have a solid, regular customer base, but there have been about half a dozen unfamiliar faces all in getting their mince.”
Brindon Addy is chairman of the Q Guild, which represents butchers and independent meat retailers in the UK.
He said: “I think consumers have become aware that there isn’t transparency in purchasing meat from their supermarket. We pride ourselves on being able to deliver from farm to plate and knowing each step of that process.”