As the horse meat scandal continues to test the public’s faith in supermarket produce, Kingston’s butchers have found that their businesses are booming.
In the last few weeks, many local meat sellers have found that their sales have increased, as paranoid shoppers shun the supermarkets and return to sellers they trust in order to avoid contaminated beef products.
Jimmy Curran, 33, who owns Jimmy’s Meat in Kingston Market Place, believes that the increase in sales is linked to consumers now not trusting the origin or quality of their supermarket products.
He said: “One of the attractions of a local butcher is being able to tell exactly where the meat came from. All of our meat is from British farms and has been inspected by a vet so we know it is 100 per cent what it says it is.
“This sort of thing is to be expected from cheap meat but when you buy from a proper butcher you get peace of mind as well as a better quality product.”
Donna Jelly, 44, of Bevan’s Butchers Kingston, agrees. She said: “We’ve had more people asking questions about where our meat comes from and are proud to be able to reassure them and say we can source all of our meat back to the farm, not just the beef but chicken and pork as well.”
Ms Jelly, who has been a butcher for 26 years, added that she had never experienced a food scandal quite like this before, but that it doesn’t surprise her that cheap food may not be completely genuine, adding: “It does seem unlikely that if you buy ten beef burgers for a pound that you are going to receive a quality product that is 100 per cent beef like you would in a butcher shop.”
Kingston market stall holder and owner of Tuckers Exotic Meat’s, Pete Atkinson, 26, specialises in selling unusual meat products, including Zebra, Ostrich and Wildebeest burgers.
Mr Atkinson says that the problem lies in the mislabelling of the product, not the meat itself: “I have no problem with selling horse if people wanted it but the issue here is that people have been eating it without realising.
“People should be open to trying new things but finding out that you have been eating horse without knowing is a shock.”
“Being able to trust exactly what you are eating is important so all of our meat was DNA tested over a year ago and we have no doubts as to its origins or what it is.”
However, while many more people are now experiencing the security of buying from their local butcher, Mr Atkinson warns that independent meat sellers should enjoy their extra customers while they can as “it is likely that many people will go back to the convenience and lower prices of a big supermarket once the shock has worn off.”