TRADITIONAL butchers’ shops are reporting a surge in custom after several supermarkets were found to be selling value burgers which contained horse meat.
Independent butchers’ shops say customers are shunning the supermarkets after the scandal, saying they want to be sure of where their food is coming from.
Online suppliers of high-end meat products also reported a surge in interest as public confidence in supermarket suppliers slumped in the wake of the scandal.
Douglas Scott, of the Scottish Federation of Meat Traders, said: “This has made people think again about where their meat is coming from and it has set people back to the butchers.
“When this kind of thing happens people feel they should go back to somebody who knows their suppliers.
“That is the benefit of using a local butcher. They know where their produce is coming from and what is in the produce.”
Some enterprising Scottish butchers have harnessed the horse meat scandal as a marketing opportunity. In Broughty Ferry, Robertson Butcher and Deli was festooned with posters saying: “Neigh Horse Meat In Our Burgers.” Manager Frank Mudie said: “It is a just a bit of fun, but I think this has made people think a bit more about where their meat is coming from.
“We can’t compete with the supermarkets on price, but we can compete on quality and service and I this has made people think about what that means.”
In Perth, butcher Lindsays also took a cocky swipe at the supermarkets’ woes displaying a poster of a cartoon horse sniffing a burger with the slogan: “No Horse Meat Here – just 100 per cent pure beef, while Scott Brothers in Dundee took out adverts in the local press promising: “There is neigh horsing around,” and guaranteeing its products were 100 per cent Scottish beef, lamb and pork.”
Scott Brothers director Scott Jarron said he thought the horse meat scandal was: “a shame for the whole industry”. But he said he hoped it made customers appreciate traditional butchers’ shops and their close link with the farming industry.
Meanwhile, online meat retailer Farmison & Co, which sells rare-breed burgers, reported an upsurge in demand. A spokesman said: “In the last 72 hours we’ve witnessed a 150 per cent increase in butchery sales and a 300 per cent increase in visits to the butchery pages of our site, largely centred around burgers. A trend we can suggest stems from the fact that more people are concerned to know where their meat is coming from, the cut and what exactly goes into it, particularly in light of recent news.”
Investigations are still under way as to how horse meat found its way into supermarket burgers, with the Food Standards Agency saying prosecutions could not be ruled out.
Tom Woodham, director of Crimson & Co supply chain consultancy, said the horse meat debacle showed how important it was for shops to know what they were selling.
“The disturbing news stories of contaminated meat being found in burgers at leading UK stores underlines the importance of a robust supplier quality programme that goes beyond your first tier suppliers,” he said.