Butchers see upturn in trade

THE district’s butchers have reported an upturn in trade following the current horsemeat scandal which has left many customers deserting ready meals in supermarkets and returning to local shops.

Butchers in Banbridge and Dromore have both experienced increased footfall following the furore over horsemeat DNA being found in some beef products.

Banbridge butcher Evan Henning, who has been running his shop in Newry Street for 27 years, says there has been a “significant” increase in the number of customers buying fresh produce from his shop.

“Over the past couple of weeks we have noticed a definite upturn and the number of people buying butchery products has significantly increased,” he said. “I think people have been scared by the labelling in some supermarket ready meals and have returned to their local butcher’s because they know they can trust what they’re getting.”

Mr Henning said he was personally outraged by the scandal and had been speaking to MEP Diane Dodds about it over the weekend.

“I asked her why supermarkets are not subjected to routine ingredients tests the same way as products sold in butchers’ shops,” he said. “The law states I must list the ingredients exactly for my sausages and burgers and environmental health services routinely check samples.

“I just can’t get my head around the fact that supermarkets don’t have to do this. It is an uneven playing field and it has been a disaster waiting to happen.”

In Dromore, well known butcher, Roy Livingstone of Dromore Meats, has also noticed a marked increase in trade and was “very grateful” for the confidence customers were showing in his produce.

“We can stand over what we sell here and I think people realise that,” he said. “At the end of the day you get what you pay for and it’s good to see local people returning to their local shops.”

Meanwhile, former president of Banbridge Chamber of Trade and Commerce and Banbridge butcher, Joe Quail, said there could hopefully be spin-offs for other local shops.

“If a customer is buying meat in a butcher’s instead of a supermarket, it is more likely he or she will also visit the local baker’s or local greengrocer’s as well,” he said. “This is a good food story for all our local town centre shops.

“We have been butchers in Banbridge since 1898 and we have always farmed our own cattle as well as buying from local farmers. There is full traceability from farm gate to customer’s plate and our lasagnes and pies are all made on-site.

“We have always believed it is vitally important to support local producers and if anyone wants to know exactly were our beef comes from every week, they can now check it out on our Facebook page for quailsfinefoods.”