After the horsemeat scandal of the past 6 months I don’t think it comes as a surprise to anyone that consumer trust in big chain supermarkets is crumbling. This is evident by the boom it’s brought to farm shops as consumers are returning to the safety of the local butcher.

The question now stands if this will be an on-going trend or can the supermarkets regain trust?

For the sake of independent family butchers and the boost to local economy let’s hope not. Now is a golden opportunity for farm shops and butchers to seize command of the situation and re-educate the general consumer to the quality of local produce.

Tory MP George Eustice – a member of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs select committee – said: “If people want to know for sure where their beef or pork comes from, their best bet is to support their local butcher, who will know where their meat is sourced.”

How to entice supermarket shoppers

So how can farm shops bring in ‘supermarket shoppers’ and more importantly keep them from ever going back?

Eye Contact isn’t scary… is it?

Remember that many supermarket shoppers have grown used to shopping without making eye contact. We walk into the supermarket and we’re greeted not by cheery smiles or friendly faces but by sign posts directing us to an individual isle where the food is ready to be plucked from the shelf.

Try to be as open and friendly as possible even if you’re not having the best day. Don’t be put off if the consumer is a little nervous or hesitant, maybe offer to advise on the different types and cut of meat you have. Ask them what meals they are hoping to cook and offer recommendations. Though remind them that they can browse for as long as they like and there is no pressure to buy.

By doing this you may have a customer who takes ages to order or even decides that they don’t want anything and don’t buy, however you will have created a warm and friendly atmosphere which they will remember. It’s this atmosphere that will encourage a hesitant supermarket shopper to return at a later date.

Label the Meat

Also many of us ‘non-butchers’ don’t know how to correctly identify meat unless we read the label, so clearly marking your items will help. You could also provide a simple guide to selecting meat that can be read upon entering and even a chart showing the different types of cut.

Brag about your food source

The key thing about the horsemeat scandal is that consumers don’t trust what is in their meat and where it comes from. This is the main tool you have to bring in and keep customers. Have a big sign stating where your meat is sourced from and that you provide honest, local food. Also get involved with the local community to help educate them about local produce.

You could even make light out of the situation as some of these butchers have done.

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