FAMILY butchers are booming as hundreds of customers flock back to the high street in the midst of the horse meat scandal.

As frozen ready-meals are stripped from the shelves of supermarkets across the country, customers are turning back to traditional butchers to get ‘quality’ and ‘trustworthy’ meat.

Butchers and farm shops across Chester, Malpas and Frodsham are reporting up to 75% boosts in meat sales – with some struggling to keep up with the increased demand – which they hope could help save their traditional businesses from the chop.

Butcher Bruce Edge, who runs Ernest W Edge & Son in Handbridge, which has been in his family for 75 years, said the scandal had seen students, families and pensioners flocking back to their shop, because they no longer trusted the ‘big boys’.

“We have always had a fight against the one-stop shop and supermarkets and this has been a wake-up call,” said Mr Edge, who said their sales had been up by 10% since the scandal broke.

“We are happy we can be on the outside looking on in horror at what the big boys have been up to.

“We have always done things the right way and customers now want to buy quality meat from people they can trust.”

Over the past few years the number of independent butchers has rapidly declined due to pressures from supermarkets and youngsters leaving the family trade in favour of more glamorous jobs, but Mr Edge said the scare was a wake-up call for consumers.

“Once all the butchers have gone, consumers will have no choice but to trust the supermarkets,” said Mr Edge.

At Chester Market, butchers J A Fernyhough have seen a 75% increase in beef burger sales and mince, and with so many customers flocking back into the city centre to buy ‘trustworthy meat’, they are struggling to keep up with the demands.

“We have a variety of different burgers, people are trying the venison as well,” said butcher Mark Johns, who runs the stall with his wife Julie.

“People are making a real effort to come back into the city to see us. We are struggling to keep up with the orders for our 100% beef burgers at the moment.”

And at Blake’s Farmshop in Beechcroft, Malpas butcher Paul Gallagher said the shop had seen an increase in new customers after they felt deceived by the supermarket giants.

Meanwhile at The Hollies Farm Shop in Little Budworth, master butcher Andrew Vernon said they had been selling lots of their special recipe burgers – featuring horseradish but no horse.

“We have had a lot of new faces, people are asking a lot of questions about where their meat comes from,” said Mr Vernon.

“People feel they have been deceived, trust is very important when it comes to food. We pride ourselves in the quality of our products and giving our customers nothing but the best.”