Horsemeat scandal: You can trust us say Norfolk butchers

Jamie Archer with his gold award winning Chilli sausages. Picture: Denise Bradley

Jamie Archer with his gold award winning Chilli sausages. Picture: Denise Bradley - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2012

Butchers across Norfolk have joined forces to spell out the benefits to customers of shopping local to buy their meat as the scandal over horsemeat continues to rage.

With more cases of horsemeat being found in meat products emerging, local butchers, who have seen a sales surge since the scandal erupted, are positively advertising the fact that shoppers can trust the meat they buy over the counter.

The move comes as an industry campaign was also launched to promote the best of British beef, lamb, pork, and bacon.

Jamie Archer, owner of Archer's Butchers on Plumstead Road, Norwich, has seen a 15pc increase in sales 'right across the board' since last year, which he partly attributed to the scandal. He now gets around 2,500 customers per week.

'I think people are concerned about the state of the meat industry in general having had the wool pulled over their eyes like that,' Mr Archer said.

'For people like us who've always striven to do things the right way it's paying off for us now really. Provenance has always been an important part of our business.'

Mr Archer said he sources his meat from local farms and knows the farmers personally. 'I know exactly where the animals come from and what they've been fed on,' he added.

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Tony Perkins, owner of Tony Perkins Butchers in Attleborough, said he had seen a similar sales boost with about a dozen new faces coming into the shop every day.

'Most of them have not necessarily been worried about the horsemeat,' he said. 'It's the deception behind it. There's a bit of a lack of trust now.'

He said direct sourcing from the farmer is key to getting quality meat and all his beef comes from one farm in Winfarthing less than 10 miles away.

'It's good beef and I've been down to the farm and seen the cattle in the stalls and checked them out,' he said. 'I can trust the farmer to send me good stock.'

And he said he hoped his new customers will stay with him even after the scandal has died down.

'Sometimes memories are quite short, but I hope that if they try us out they can appreciate the difference in quality as well,' he said.

James Rutland, owner of M & M Rutland Butchers in Melton Constable, and EDP Food Award Butcher of the Year, whose meat is free range and sourced from Norfolk and Suffolk, said he had been selling more homemade ready meals and burgers.

He added that he only buys whole carcasses of meat to ensure quality.

'You know exactly where it's been born, who its parents were and where it was slaughtered,' he said. 'People have perhaps started to realise that cheap meat is just that – it's cheap.

'It's been grown cheaply. It's been fed, reared, raised and transported cheaply. Everything on the whole has been done on the cheap and in the end you get a cheap product.'

He said people are 'disappointed and shocked' by the horsemeat scandal and encouraged people to go to their local butchers as they are 'knowledgeable and passionate about their own products'.

Icarus Hines, owner of Icarus Hines Butchers in Cromer and Sheringham, has been in the meat industry for 37 years. He said sales had gone up 20pc with a particular spike in beef burgers.

'I'm not anti-supermarkets as they're part of modern life,' he said. 'What I don't like is the idea of people being lied to. In our country we're very fickle about animals and for most people there's a line you don't cross. Eating a horse is probably crossing a line. Some of these bigger companies are cutting corners and sourcing products which they shouldn't be. It shows a lack of respect for their customers.'

He added: 'I think the most important thing is that this is making people re-evaluate where they buy their food from and gives them a little time to think about their lifestyle,' he said.