Trade boom for the family butcher as consumer confidence is rocked by horsemeat scandal

Staff at Mallon's Butchers, High St with their home made beef burgers. Included from left are Diogo Figueiredo, Paul Martin and Adam McCartney. INPT0713-301.
Staff at Mallon's Butchers, High St with their home made beef burgers. Included from left are Diogo Figueiredo, Paul Martin and Adam McCartney. INPT0713-301.

LOCAL butchers have experienced a boom in business since the horsemeat scandal has dogged some processed supermarket produce across the UK and Europe.

Some butchers have almost doubled the number of customers coming into their shops.

The controversy erupted after high percentages of horsemeat were found in some processed meals.

However all the butchers the Times spoke to can trace all their meat back to the farmer.

Gerry Mallon, at Charlie Mallon’s Butchers in High Street, said he had seen a lot of new faces over the past weeks.

“People have been saying that with us they know what they are getting,” said Gerry.

“They know everything is right. Our beef, pork and lamb is traceable right back to the farmer. We make the burgers on our own premises. The burgers have been selling very well.

“We only sell homemade burgers. The Angus burger is flying off the counter. We can’t make them quick enough.”

He said their business had nearly doubled in recent weeks. “People are tending to go for quality too.

“The burgers in the supermarkets, you couldn’t make them at that price,” he said.

“We definitely notice more people coming in for the quality. The whole thing is about traceability - where the beef comes from. We get it all from local farmers in Armagh,” said Gerry who said his own dad has a farm and they have their own cattle. “People are more conscientious and they want to know where it is coming from and that everything is okay with it.”

Gerry said people are genuinely concerned. “They don’t know what they are eating in supermarket’s produce.

“We can stand over everything, where the meat came from, the whole way from when it was born and reared until it is killed. We can guarantee where it came from.”

When the Times called Clayton Moore of M&W Farm Meats on the Moy Road he said he was ‘queued out the door at the minute’.

When asked about the horsemeat scandal, he said: “It hasn’t done us any harm. I had a lot of new customers at the weekend.

“We actually rear our own cattle. Our meat is coming directly off the farm. We aren’t buying off anybody else. We rear our own animals for the shop.

“When people know that, they tend to trust you better,” said Clayton.

He said he runs burger-making classes for local schools and youth clubs. “I bring the kids in and show them how they are made. Things like that we will probably try and do a bit more of.”

Dwaine Smyth, who owns The Meat Cleaver on the Armagh Road with his brother Garry, told the Times that footfall was up by about 35 per cent since the horsemeat crisis.

“It’s not so much the case that the big supermarkets were selling horse meat, it’s more the fact their customers felt hoodwinked. Unacceptable! All of our customers have confidence in what they buy from us and that is compounded by the fact our footfall has increased by over 30 per cent over this scandal.

“Last year America had a great upsurge in independent butcher shops opening up as customers want confidence and quality in what they are eating and we can definitely see it happening here in the UK. It’s the year of the butcher.”

John Hoy from Hoy’s Butchers in Bridge Street said the majority of their stock comes from their own farms or local farmers and all their meat can be sourced directly back to the farmer.

He said their cattle graze at Hoy’s fields in Edenderry in the summer and his brother has a farm in Richhill. They also rear their own turkeys at Christmas.

He said there had been around a 25-30 per cent increase in sales since the horsemeat scandal and it had been a joking point among customers coming into his store. “I would just tell them they have to go to the supermarket to get horsemeat,” laughed John.

He said they make their own lasagnes and are doing a great trade.

“People are confident enough with us. Some supermarkets were selling burgers at about 8p. That was putting too much pressure on the suppliers and some went to underhand means,” he said.