Colchester: Post-horsemeat scandal sees prices rise at livestock market

A livestock sale at Stanfords in Colchester

A livestock sale at Stanfords in Colchester

AUCTIONEERS are reporting a lift in livestock prices in the wake of the horsemeat scandal.

Stanfords at Colchester, which holds a weekly livestock market on Tuesdays, says its retailer customers are reporting a marked improvement in the retail trade as customers put their confidence in local butchers and traceable meat supply chains.

Auctioneer Graham Ellis said: “Cattle and sheep prices have certainly increased. They have got dearer each week. Long may it continue. The cattle trade has been good but that’s stepped up to another level now,” he said.

“Beef has gone up probably 10% in price and lamb has probably gone up almost 20%.”

He added: “Without a doubt, there’s definitely a bonus to the fresh meat retail butcher. You can come and buy with confidence from local producers.”

However, he warned that stock in the UK is short,

“So if they want it, they are going to have to pay for it,” he said.

Most Read

Realistically, there was “no way” some supermarket meat products could have been produced at the prices that were being paid before the horsemeat revelations, he claimed.

The Livestock Auctioneers Association (LAA) says auction markets have a vital role to play in restoring shoppers’ trust in the food chain.

Chris Dodds, executive secretary of the LAA, said the horse meat scandal had damaged consumer confidence in the food chain, but had also presented an opportunity to regain trust by highlighting local sourcing and the quality of British produce.

“Trust in the food chain has undoubtedly been hit by the horsemeat scandal but there is evidence to suggest that there is an increase in demand for beef from trusted sources. Butchers throughout the country have reported a higher demand for beef in particular, and this is having an impact on demand at the auctions,” he said.

“Livestock auction markets are transparent. Suppliers and retailers can see what they are buying and they know where it has come from. There is an obvious advantage for them in being able to reassure their customers about the origins of their meat.”

A tracking survey conducted by consumer goods specialist IGD found that consumer trust in the food industry was affected in January this year and continued to fall during February.

Michael Freedman, shopper insight manager at IGD, said: “One of the key changes that shoppers would like to see in order to regain trust is to give more attention to food origin and in particular, more local and British products and ingredients.”

Mr Freedman said there was an ongoing trend with consumers becoming more interested in the origins of their food year on year, and there was strong support for the British farmer.

“For retailers, it’s never been more important to showcase your brands’ local credentials where possible, providing clarity of food sourcing and explain in a compelling way where the product has come from and how it has been produced,” he said.

Mr Dodds said the research showed that the consumer trusts the British farmer, so retailers need to be as closely connected with this source as possible.