Butchers and farm shops profit from horse meat wake up call

Sam Mooney at Country Farm Meats in Great Barton.
Sam Mooney at Country Farm Meats in Great Barton.

The horse meat scandal cloud over the food industry has had a silver lining for independent butchers and farm shops.

Outlets who know where their meat comes from have benefitted from the wake-up call the scandal has given to people who have not questioned the provenance of the meat in the dishes they buy.

Sam Mooney, owner of Country Farm Meats in Great Barton said: “My sales were up 30 per cent on the week before it broke.

“It’s not just existing customers, it’s new customers coming because they’ve lost faith with the chains.

“With us they know it’s locally sourced and all from within 12 miles of the shop.”

Hubbard’s Pork Shop recently moved from Out Westgate Street, Bury St Edmunds, to the St Olave’s Precinct on the Howard Estate and has seen a jump in trade.

“It’s made people more aware they get what they pay for,” he said. “It’s been going on for years but it’s only just come to light for most people. It’s the risk you take if you don’t buy locally.”

He added that meat unsuitable for human consumption in the UK is died blue so it cannot enter the food chain. “Whether they’ve got the same right across Europe and whether they comply with it is another matter,” he said.

At Hollow Trees Farm Shop, Semer, they even had a sign outside their new butchery saying ‘Thank you Findus’.

Owner Sally Bendall said: “We benefitted because we have our own butchery and our own cattle and pigs.

“We’ve been talking to people about buying locally for years. Unfortunately, when the prices are driven down, the thing that’s going to go is the quality. The conversation among customers now is ‘what have we been feeding ourselves and our children?’”

She said that at a farm shop owners’ conference she went to last week everyone was saying the weekend after the story broke was the best sales weekend they had had for years.

It has also shown public bodies that ‘cook it yourself’ is a sound policy. Suffolk’s school meals are supplied by Eastern Facility Management Solution’s East Anglian Tastes for Schools (EATS) section.

The company’s Colin Hammond said 75 per cent of what they supply schools is made in their own kitchens.

He said: “Our beef is sourced in the UK and is UK origin. It is farm assured from accredited providers.”

Even so, they have been testing samples.

West Suffolk Hospital buys in no meat products apart from burgers for staff specials which are assured 100 per cent beef. Their beef is all sourced from butchers in Norwich and Great Yarmouth.