BUTCHERS in Oxfordshire are seeing a boom in trade since the horsemeat scandal broke.
Specialist traders say people are turning to them so they know where their food is coming from after up to 100 per cent horsemeat was found labelled as beef in Tesco and Aldi earlier this month.
Butcher Jon Timms, from Denshams in Witney High Street, said: “We started to see a lot more new customers just a few days after the horsemeat scandal broke. We are getting 30 to 40 more customers a week.”
Paul England, who owns Alcock Butcher in Banbury Road, Summertown, said: “There has definitely been a spike, especially in the last two weeks. I’d say we get about four or five more people a day coming in.
“You are talking to a person who can answer your questions, not a box in a supermarket.”
Mitzi Feller, from M Feller, Son and Daughter, in Oxford’s Covered Market, said: “We have had a lot of people talking about horsemeat and discussing it with us. But all our meat comes on the bone so there’s no question which animal it is from.”
One Faringdon family has reason to feel particularly pleased, having vowed last December to steer clear of supermarkets for a year in favour of local shops.
Rebekah Pugh, 27, has been shopping in butchers around Faringdon, Wantage and Abingdon with husband Ian, 27, and nine-month-old daughter Elizabeth.
She said: “It really has been quite interesting to hear from all sorts of people about the horsemeat. Buying from a local butchers, you can watch them cut your meat in front of your eyes. You can see the butcher prepare, slice, mince and dice meat for you, so you can see exactly what you are getting.”
Fred Millot, a fine foods salesman for Oxfordshire who supplies some of the county’s Michelin-starred eateries, said: “Horsemeat is a very lean and bloody meat, which has a very nice taste. But it doesn’t fit with English culture so we don’t sell it anywhere in UK, let alone Oxfordshire.
“The provenance of your food is an important matter so everybody understands how wrong it is that horsemeat is being sold as beef in places like supermarkets.”
The Government knew last summer there would be unlawful meat imports from Europe. The Times reported yesterday that former agriculture minister Sir Jim Paice warned that manufacturers would seek cheap sources to make up for a Food Standards Agency ban on desinewed beef and lamb.