Sales of quality local and small producer meat products are reported to be soaring in convenience stores as the horsemeat scandal deepens.
Food fraud investigations are currently underway, with more cases of horsemeat contamination expected to come to light.
Last week stores across the country were forced to take packs of Findus Beef Lasagne from shelves after some samples were found to contain up to 100% horsemeat. Horsemeat was also found in Aldi’s Today’s Special Frozen Beef Lasagne and Today’s Special Frozen Spaghetti Bolognese, as well as in a number of burgers stocked by Tesco, Iceland and Lidl.
Nisa retailer Mike Boyce, who owns Daisy Fresh and Essential in Wolverhampton, was forced to destroy more than 20 packets of the Findus beef lasagne. “We will get compensation for this, but the cost to someone else is going to be huge,” he said. “Fortunately, our store boasts a fresh butchery counter. Its sales are already up and there will be an opportunity to grow them in coming weeks,” he added.
“Sales of ‘proper’ meat such as whole roast chickens, and packs of beef mince from our local suppliers almost doubled last weekend as people look for products that they know they can trust. Even though it has provoked quite a bit of laughter, deep down I think this whole scandal has really knocked people’s confidence in the manufacturing industry.”
Itteringham Community Stores, Norfolk
“There’ll be more demand for local burgers. The whole saga just reinforced the message about processed food and provenance. It can only be a good news story. We’ve put up blackboards and POS material saying ‘100% no horsemeat’! It’s stoked a lot of debate.”
Knight’s Budgens of Hassocks, West Sussex
In Holsworthy, Devon, Premier retailer Dan Cock said sales of locally produced meats and meat products had soared by more than 50% in the past week. “This scandal has totally shot consumer confidence to pieces,” he said. “Consumers don’t like to be lied to and they are voting with their feet by buying foods that they know are good quality and traceable,” he said.
“Independents have a huge opportunity here. Unlike the big boys we can boost our ranges of quality local goods overnight. I, for one, will be doing so.”
The Food Standards Agency said it was “highly likely” that criminal activity was behind the contamination.
Bob Farrand, chairman of the Guild of Fine Food, also blamed the supermarkets and large producers for being more focused on “reducing costs and increasing margins” than quality.
“Inevitably, this scandal will encourage even more to source locally from smaller businesses. If in the process it’s bad news for Tesco and the others, they’ll get no sympathy from us,” he added.