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Independent butchers celebrating trade boost after horse meat scandal

An anti-horse meat protester makes their opposition known at Parliament Hill Farmers Market. Picture: Polly Hancock. An anti-horse meat protester makes their opposition known at Parliament Hill Farmers Market. Picture: Polly Hancock.

Thursday, February 21, 2013
2:00 PM

Independent butchers in Hampstead and Highgate have enjoyed a boost in trade following the horsemeat scandal which has dogged their supermarket rivals.

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The discovery of horsemeat in processed beef products sold in a number of UK supermarkets last month led to widespread recalls which have severely damaged the public’s faith in what exactly they are buying over the supermarket counter.

But the controversy has had the reverse effect on high street meat sellers who are enjoying a surge in business from customers looking for meat they can trust.

Phyllis Harper, 65, who runs Highgate Butchers, in Highgate High Street, said: “We’ve been here 38 years next month so we’ve got a good client base – but people we haven’t seen before and people who only come here occasionally have started to shop more regularly. The sale of mince has gone through the roof!”

Guy Bossom, 44, manager of The Hampstead Butcher & Providore, in Rosslyn Hill, Hampstead, said independent butchers had seen a boost in trade because customers felt “assured of where the meat comes from”.

“We’ve got a small supply chain and so we can guarantee what goes in it,” said Mr Bossom.

“We’ve had lots of questions from customers, such as, ‘Where’s your meat from?’ And, ‘Is there horse in it?’

“One of my suppliers was contacted by a supermarket who asked him to reduce the quality and content of his ready meals to meet their price point. He told them where to go.”

On Sunday, London Farmers’ Market sent people dressed as horses to Parliament Hill Farmers’ Market to draw attention to food safety issues and the cutting of corners in factories that has led to mislabelled meat in main stream supermarkets.

Yesterday (Wednesday), the same protest also came to Swiss Cottage Farmers’ Market.

Cheryl Cohen, of the London Farmers’ Market, said: “Everyone should have access to food that is honest, decent and good value: a fair price for a trustworthy product.”

“Say nay to supermarkets and source from farmers markets and farm shops.”

It is a sentiment shared by the owner of Highgate Butchers.

“We base ourselves on service and quality which the supermarket can’t give you,” said Ms Harper. “They have created a monopoly and shut the majority of high streets down.

“Where do you find a green grocer and a butcher nowadays? So I don’t feel sorry for them at all!”

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