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Brighton butcher sees sales of his horse meat rocket
4:30pm Monday 11th March 2013 in News
By Katy Rice & Jamie Walker
It was never meant to be the “mane” attraction in his shop but one Brighton butcher has seen sales of horse meat rocket since the supermarket scandal.
Paul Clark, who owns Clarks Meat and Poultry in Lewes Road, says his customers have developed a taste for horse meat in the past fortnight and he has had to up his orders.
He said: “Before the horse meat scandal, I’d sell maybe a joint every three or four weeks.
"Now I’m selling between six and seven kilos a week. The scandal has been brilliant for me.”
Supermarkets are still reeling from revelations that some frozen ready meals and burgers contained horse meat or traces of horse DNA, with one beef lasagne found to contain 100% horse meat.
But Mr Clark, who also sells pre-packed exotic meats including zebra, camel, mountain goat, elk, crocodile and kangaroo, says the scandal has made customers far more adventurous.
He said: “A lot of our customers are students from the universities on Lewes Road, and they're really experimental with the meat they will try.
"They are the ones asking for horse meat – and it's because before the scandal, they might not even have heard of horse meat for sale in this country but now it has been brought to their attention.”
One of his customers, Darren Pettett, who owns Hanover Hairstyles on Elm Grove, near Lewes Road, was tempted to try horse meat in the aftermath of the scandal.
He said: “Well, I’d been eating horse meat without knowing it for years. I was curious and thought I’d try it properly and bought a joint from Paul.
"I roasted it and while it felt strange eating horse meat, it wasn’t too different to beef and had a very distinct flavour. I’ll definitely be buying it again.”
'People don't like deception'
Mr Clark said that sales of horse meat have risen despite the fact that horse meat is double the price of beef.
He said: “Beef sells at £10 per kilo but horse meat is £20 per kilo. It’s expensive because my meat has good traceability and that’s what people are prepared to pay for after the horse meat scandal.
"People don’t like the deception – when you don’t know where the meat has come from.”
The scandal erupted in January when the Food Safety Authority of Ireland said beefburgers with traces of horse DNA were being supplied to supermarkets by Silvercrest Foods.
Since then, 10 million burgers have been taken off the shelves by supermarkets including Tesco, Lidl, Aldi and Iceland.
As the Food Standards Agency continues to investigate the source of the horse meat, frozen burger sales in the UK have dropped by 43% since January and frozen ready meals by 13%, while sales of meat-free burgers and sausages have risen sharply, according to health food chain Holland & Barratt and the vegetarian ready-meal brand Quorn.
Butchers across Sussex have reported increases in customer numbers by as much as 40%.
Isobel Bretherton, of the NFU south-east region, said it had not received any requests from retailers trying to source horse meat. She said: “Reluctance to eat horse meat entered the British psyche when we taunted the French for eating it during the Napoleonic wars.
“In fact, the best flavoured horse meat to eat, I’ve heard, comes from a heavy horse called the Comtois, which is found in southern France.”
How do you feel about eating horse meat?
To what extent has the supermarket scandal put you off eating meat?
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