BUTCHERS have seen a free range frenzy since celebrity chefs revealed a stark picture of intensive chicken farms.
Free range chicken sales have leapt in Chester since the programme.
Handbridge butcher Bruce Edge has sold three times as many free range chickens as usual, and ran out of standard or barn-fed chickens by noon last Saturday.
He said: “I was slightly concerned the negative publicity might affect us but it seems to have made people more conscious about where they buy their meat from.
“We had a lot of new customers who said they were completely disillusioned with the supermarkets.
“My supplier of barn-fed chickens doesn’t sell meat to supermarkets which means he gets more money for each chicken and doesn’t need to keep them in such large numbers.”
Northgate Street butcher Chris Austin sold 40 free range chickens on Saturday morning alone, and also sold more standard chickens than usual.
He said: “Before the programme one third of chickens we sold were free range, but since then it has completely changed.
“It is hard to say whether this will continue – I would like to sell only free range meat, but we want to give people the choice.
“You are talking about spending £6-£7 on a free range chicken to feed four or five people. That isn’t expensive – it is just that the others are so cheap and that is what is wrong.”
Mark Burrows of RF Burrows and Sons in Bunbury has seen free range sales jump from 30% of his chicken sales to 80%.
But he added: “I don’t think it will continue. This has pricked people’s conscience for a couple of weeks then they will slip back. We have seen it before with other fads.”
Just as in Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s programme shown on Channel 4 earlier this month, single-parent and low income customers told a butcher in Blacon they couldn’t afford to buy free range.
Carl Anderson of Blacon Parade butchers Noel Baker said: “On the catering side one customer has asked us for free range so they can price it up, but in the shop nobody has wanted it. Unfortunately it is the price that is the problem, although I can get it if customers ask for it.”
Tesco, who were at the centre of Mr Fearnley-Whittingstall’s campaign, said some customers had changed their habits.
Staff at the Frodsham Street store have seen a rise in free range sales but no difference in standard chicken sales.