by Safira Ali, Senior reporter
Friday, February 22, 2013
Meat-lovers are returning to their high street butchers to shop locally after the national supermarket scandal with horse meat.
In January, food products listed as beef were found to contain horse meat at some of the big supermarkets across the country.
Brentwood butchers say customers are now shunning the big chains to shop with them because they say they want to trust where their food is coming from and what it is.
Duncan Hepburn, 42, owner of Hepburn Butchers in Mountnessing and Hutton, said he has seen a 20 per cent rise in sales since the controversy and his customers say they want to shop somewhere they trust.
He said: “I have had comments over and over from people who had concerns about what they are eating, but they are more concerned for their children and they are not getting what they are asking for. We have had a mixture of old customers returning and newer ones wanting to shop on the high street.
“The new customers are used to shopping in supermarkets, so we have talked them through when they have shopped with us and they like the personal approach because they can ask us any questions they have.”
He added his shops’ beef is from Scotland while the rest of their meat comes from farms in Essex.
He said: “Us local butchers can take responsibility for our meat because we know exactly where it comes from and we have complete traceability.”
He said everything has to have a “passport” so they know where it comes from, including an identification number.
He added: “We check where the farm is and we visit our farmers. We deal with a lot of farmers but we keep the information to prove where all our meat comes from.”
Trevor Oliver, 62, owner of Oliver’s Butchers in Rayleigh Road, said he has seen a ten per cent increase in sales over the past few weeks.
He said people are angry about the way the scandal has been handled and want to know where their meat is coming from.
He told the Recorder: “Customers feel there has been a lot of fraudulent behaviour regarding the meat scandal and there is a general feeling of being misled and a break of trust.
“It’s about placeability, and we can reassure them where all our products come from. All our carcass meat comes from Burnham, Essex, and our pork comes from Suffolk.
“We visit our farmers and know where our products come from, and we use all identifiable cuts in our sausages.”
Iain Wicks, development manager for the Essex Federation of Small Businesses, said: “It isn’t surprising that some local butchers have seen an increase in sales during the current scandal. We hope that this has a positive effect on the other independent retailers on the high street so that the greengrocer and baker also benefits.”