By Emma Brennan
Monday, February 11, 2013
THE recent discovery of horsemeat in products ranging from beef lasagnes to burgers has had a positive effect on trade at farm shops across Suffolk and Essex.
Although politicians and food safety experts have played down any possible threat to human health, farm shop owners across the two counties say their customers are not prepared to take the risk.
Some have reported up to a 30% increase in the sale of beef products while others say the horsemeat scandal is the hottest topic of conversation among customers.
Sally Bendall, owner of Hollow Trees Farm in Semer near Hadleigh, said trade had been brisk for the time of year. She added: “Our butchery sales have been very busy and we have noticed that the horsemeat issue has been a talking point.
“We have had signage placed on all our ready meals to say that we can trace where all of the ingredients have come from, and all of our meat is traceable back to the animals that customers see on the farm.
“The situation is very sad but it has given us a boost and has highlighted some issues that we and our colleagues at other farm shops across the region have been banging on about for years.”
Meanwhile at Swiss Farm in Ashbocking, according to shop manager Alan Merry the business has seen a 30% upsurge in sales of beef products. He said: “There has been a lot of talk about the horsemeat story from customers when they come in and I think they really appreciate that they are getting exactly what they see in front of them here. Our sausages contain purely beef or pork with an added rusk ingredient. We can also trace our meat back to the abattoir and guarantee that there are no extra ingredients.”
It was a similar story at the Ipswich-based Suffolk Food Hall. Shop worker Jamie Harris said at least 20% of the customers mentioned the horsemeat scandal, adding: “I believe people have lost a bit of trust in the supermarkets as a result of this. At least we can guarantee where all of our meat comes from and it can be traced back to where and when it was born. To me, the shocking thing is not so much that it’s horsemeat but that no-one has any idea of how many chemicals have been put into the horses, or where they came from.”
At Greenstead Farm shop near Halstead in Essex, owner Chris Butler said trading had also been solid since the news broke. He added: “With the current horsemeat scandal, we know that customers are more concerned than ever with the quality of their meat. We have always ensured that ours is sourced locally and is guaranteed to be ethically produced and of great quality. We can honestly say we know 100% what goes into our meat.”
* Cross ref national story