The horse meat scandal is going to revive the fortunes of Britain’s independent meat traders, the country’s top butcher has forecast.
Award-winning Malcolm Pyne, from North Petherton, near Bridgwater, in Somerset, says the effects of the revelations about adulterated food have already led to a surge in both customers and takings.
“It’s clear this has all come as a tremendous shock to a lot of people – and they are turning back to independent butchers because they know they can trust them,” he said.
More than 10,000 high street butchers have closed in the last three decades, many of them victims of aggressive supermarket discounting.
But Malcolm Pyne, whose shop was named the best in Britain earlier this year, says the tide has been abruptly reversed. “Everyone I have spoken to in the trade has the same story – the customers are coming back in droves,” he said.
“Our weekend takings were incredible. We had families with young children turning up who we had never seen before and at least one of them said they had come because the children wanted to go to a real butcher’s shop.
"Talking to people what they feel most angry about is the fact that they have been deceived: they have been sold food which is not as described on the label. And once people have been let down like that they really don’t forget it.
"What they have been most impressed about with us is not just that we can tell them which farmers have provided the animals but that those farmers shop here themselves.”
Mr Pyne forecast many families would now change their lifestyles and abandon convenience foods in favour of preparing their own.
“The fact is that if you buy even one of the cheaper cuts and cook it properly you can still eat like a king for relatively little,” he said. “It’s a matter of good, old-fashioned housekeeping which, sadly, is one skill that so many people have lost because of the availability of ready meals.
“The horse meat scandal will be good for the entire country if it leads to everyone raising their standards and eating properly. I think a lot of them are now realising the truth of what I have been saying for years: that if you buy a box of eight burgers for 99 pence the box is worth more than the contents.”