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Feb
14
2013

High Street Revival… Led By The Butcher ?

For the best part of the last forty years, the British high street has been in decline, as supermarkets have been in the ascendancy. Many small town centre shops have been in the doldrums and chambers of commerce and town councils have been able to achieve too little to entice shoppers back full time. Indeed these days, even the likes of the larger town centre retailers such as Woolworths, TJ Hughes, Jessops and the like have all been usurped,  first by the out of town retail parks, and now the mega online retailers. But could the tide be about to finally turn ?

Unknown quantity

When it comes to buying goods, there are certain things where we know beyond reasonable doubt just exactly what we are getting for our money, and it’s not always so important to inspect the product in advance. These types of goods readily lend themselves to being bought online, but then there are other items such as when buying food, that we want to know exactly what it is that’s going to wind up on our children’s dinner plate.

We can do little to escape all the news reports surrounding the horse meat in food scandal that has hogged the headlines these last couple of weeks. And consumers feel angry, duped and even repulsed at the thought of having eaten horse meat, blended in with or sometimes even totally substituted for the beef we believed we were eating. There’s nothing much worse for consumer confidence than an attention grabbing set of headlines informing us that we haven’t got what we were misled to believe we were buying when it comes to food. Even the MSG and E numbers stories of the eighties and nineties did little to deter our love of ready meals, but when we are unwittingly eating horse meat, that’s an entirely different story.

Real food

With all this controversy over meat contents in British supermarket and certain branded product ready meals, could this mean the British high street will see a much needed revival ? It could start with Butcher, for obvious reasons, but if the Greengrocer, Baker and what have you play this situation right it could mean a major revival of the high street. Is now the time to get organised, advertise, and get that all important town centre parking lobbied for, as consumers are disillusioned looking for alternative sources of supply, produce they can rely on and be sure they are getting what is stated on the label.

These ready meals or convenience foods have become a mainstay of our diets over the last few decades, as time has become a scarcer commodity in modern households. Tastes have developed for these foods, although given a real choice we most probably opt for traditional home cooked meals where circumstances permit. In fact home prepared meals on a value for money basis still work out cheaper than a lot of prepared meals that are currently available. Could we see a return to more homes enjoying homemade food on a regular basis ?

An advertisement for meat products containing the words “100% British Beef” could well have more impact at this time than any other in recent history, for a Butcher shop that can be trusted. This could be a good time for farm shops with their own Butcher too, as they could capitalise on being a known local supplier, with the content of their meat products clearly seen grazing on the way into the premises. People want to know what they’re getting and know what they’re eating. But prices need to show that the high street and small retail food industry means business, so that customers can not only be obtained, but retained in future too.

Misleading labels

Our love of horses mean that we have not really considered them as food in our recent history, although other European countries do. Sad to say but, some of us have eaten this horse meat, but the chances are it has done us no real physical harm, although we still do not like the idea. To most of us Brits, the horse is viewed as a pet, akin to a dog or cat, and we would not dream of eating anything classed as a pet. It would be a personal violation on a grand scale to be fed it unwittingly, yet will anything be done regards those who thought it was fine to dupe the British public at large, other than a token gesture regards the mislabeling of food.

It’s not necessarily the supermarkets fault, but surely those preparing these burgers and the like are in control of their own supply chain, surely they know what they are buying, and ultimately somebody knew what was going into the food we buy. If the food processors don’t know, how can we ever trust what it says on their packaging now or in the future. Maybe it’s better to play safe from now on.

Summary: What did you eat today ?

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