Shoppers flock to high street butchers as trust in processed products is shattered
Business is booming for Northern Ireland's family butchers in the wake of the horse meat scandal.
With consumer confidence in supermarket meat plummeting, many customers are choosing small and local over the supermarkets – and one Belfast butcher said his business has soared by 15% in recent weeks.
One of Northern Ireland's multi-award winning butchers – which supplies some of the UK's best restaurants – said trade had risen dramatically in the days since the horse meat scandal broke, with long queues forming for their busy weekend meat market.
Peter Hannan of Hannan Meats told the Belfast Telegraph: "At our meat market we had over 1,800 people in just four days, 500 within five hours on Saturday, with the first arriving at 7.50am in the morning – many of them having to queue."
"Last week was absolutely crackers," he added.
"This whole thing isn't a health issue, it's about consumer confidence and integrity."
Another Belfast butcher, Colin Johnston, said he had witnessed a spike in trade of around 15% since the furore began.
"There have been more burgers sold, sausages as well. A lot of people have been asking about it (the horse meat scandal) and asking our opinion on it. People realise that there is a difference with food," he said.
"We have a core customer base, but there are also some new faces coming in."
Shopper Shane Horan (32) said he bought the bulk of his meat from local butchers.
"It is one of these things where you get what you pay for. If you are buying 10 burgers for a pound, it will not exactly be prime beef," he said.
"It's about the guy behind the counter who knows what he is doing. Someone like this, with Colin, he knows not only his customers, but also his suppliers."
Meanwhile, regular customers at the family-owned Orr's butchers in Belfast city centre said they were choosing independent businesses over supermarkets after the recent revelations.
Molly Blair (92) said: "When I'm in town I buy my meat from Orr's. I've always found the meat very good. I've always loved beef burgers, but I wouldn't eat them now unless I knew who made them," she said.
"I've sometimes bought them in the supermarket, but not now. I would be a bit worried about buying burgers like that. I haven't bought them since."
Award-winning family business McCartney's, based in Moira, said sales had risen due to the scare. "Our customers have been asking us: is your meat traceable? We go as far as having traceable numbers on each tray of meat," he said.