By Daniel Hunter

The horsemeat scandal has prompted the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) to encourage people to 'Keep Trade Local' by supporting their local butchers and other independent retailers.

Many FSB members that own butchers shops have reported a dramatic increase in sales following the discovery of horsemeat in some food products. The FSB is urging consumers to shop local and support their independent retailers.

Regulations such as Animal Passports ensure the butcher knows where the meat they are buying comes from and how the animal has been raised. Plus, the Food Standards Agency and environmental health officials can sample products in any butchers shop on demand.

The FSB has re-launched its Keep Trade Local campaign to highlight the important role local high streets play in our communities. Research indicates that more of the money spent locally, stays locally with £1 spent with a local supplier worth £1.76 to the local economy, and only 36 pence if it is spent out of the area.

The recession has hit our high streets hard. For example, in 2011, 12,669 independent businesses closed according to the British Independent Retailers Association and the Meat Trades Journal reports that 15,000 butchers have stopped trading since the mid-1980s.

Many high streets and towns have introduced innovative ways to encourage people to shop locally and to keep their high streets buoyant. For example, Bristol launched the Bristol Pound and it is estimated that there are around 100,000 Bristol Pounds in circulation since mid-December. And in a West Sussex village, the Lodsworth Larder has been created to support locally sourced produce, as well as providing a focus for the community.

John Walker, National Chairman, Federation of Small Businesses, said:

"Independent shops often provide a better quality product — it may well have been sourced from a local farm and in many cases won't have travelled far to reach the shop. It isn't surprising that some local butchers have seen an increase in sales during the current scandal. We hope that this has a positive effect on the other independent retailers on the high street so that the greengrocer and baker also benefits.

"Shopping locally not only supports the shops on the high street, but the farmer or manufacturer down the road too and it puts the money spent back into the local economy. It has an important social function too being the focal point of the community."

Mr Brindon Addy from J Brindon Addy Butchers Ltd in Holmfirth, said:

"Food scandals are usually good for independent butchers because the meat we produce and sell is high quality and assured. Butchers buy direct from the farmers, not wholesalers, so customers can trust what they are buying from their local butcher because the source of the food is known. Independent butchers are seeing a 20 per cent increase in turnover and a 30 per cent increase in the sale of manufactured produce like beefburgers and sausages. Supermarkets push prices down but customers should be asking themselves what is in the processed or manufactured food they are buying from the supermarket."

Mr Geoff Howgate from Howgate and Farrar Butchers in Woodlesford, Leeds, said:

"Processed food is convenient and cheap and people have become blinkered to what is in the food they are buying. It's about time that people became more interested in the content of their food and realise the importance of good quality and locally produced food. Small independent butchers are heavily regulated but we know exactly where every piece of meat we sell has come from because we can trace it back to the local farmer. Regulations like Animal Passports ensures that people buying from a butcher know where their food is coming from and that is so important.

"We're a fairly young business and we take pride in selling quality produce and providing excellent customer service. We're passionate about food and we want people to understand how they can cook meals with raw ingredients easily and quickly and get satisfaction from having cooked something better than a processed meal. We provide our customers with advice on how to cook the produce we sell and even provide them with ideas on what meals they can cook."

FSB member Michael Patterson, owner of family butchers in Ringwood, Hampshire, said:

"With the strategy of supermarkets aiming to continually undercut prices, it is very difficult, almost impossible, to offer quality meat products at low prices. The latest news concerning the purity of meat products could just be the tip of the iceberg — our customers have been disgusted by the recent findings, and we have certainly noticed an increase in people coming to us, as a local butcher, for peace of mind. Customers need to know what they are eating.

"As with many traditional local butchers, here, we do everything on site. The meat comes in whole and we then prepare pies, sausages and hams under our own control. We pride ourselves on being a top quality local meat supplier."

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