Wolverhampton and other markets might just benefit from the horse meat scare

John Chubb extols the virtues of local shopping…

Horse meat

The British are a strange lot. When others around the world eat horses we keep the beasts for racing, pets, polo and fox-hunting. The horse and the plough went centuries ago. We are conservative eaters compared with Europe.

Publicity about the mislabelling of meat in supermarkets and convenience food, throws up interesting longer-term consequences. Like the horses this is a story with legs to it and as with the Grand National, there will be fallers.

Wolverhampton’s traditional market has had a rum deal of it in recent years. The traditional independent butcher and other stallholders have been hanging on for dear life. This adverse publicity may be just the help that is needed to ensure their survival.

We want to buy cheaply but we also want trust in the product. When you buy that bowl for a pound, at least you know what’s in front of you. You make a judgement and it’s your call. What’s in the beefburger or mince is another matter. What you see is not always what you get.

To expand the animal metapor, we don’t want to be sold a pup! Trust comes when you can eyeball the person across the counter. If you are sold badly one week, you won’t be back the next. Reputation counts.

Our diverse ethnic populations in the West Midlands have had a large hand in helping to keep our small-scale stall owners going. Just look at Wolverhampton market. We should be proud of it. Enterprising entrepreneurs see a niche market which giant superstores do not match. There is a certain intimacy and vibrant pleasure in walking the stalls and experiencing the colours and smells of what is offered.

There is a different relationship between customer and stall-owner. There is conversation that you don’t get in the supermarket. Quality, price and flexibility are the key issues, whilst the handing over of cash highlights the intimacy of the deal.

Nevertheless, empty stalls tell us not all is well. Wrong location, high rents and parking all play their part. Shoppers are tired of the boarded town centres but their love affair with the supermarket is not likely to be broken off just yet. The meat scandal is a public relations opportunity for stall-holders to capitalise upon.  An own goal from the corporate food supply chain, could just be what is needed to breathe life back into the traditional market.

John ChubbJohn blogs at http://www.adlibynct.blogspot.co.uk/ from where this post was submitted.

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One thought on “Wolverhampton and other markets might just benefit from the horse meat scare

  1. Welcome to the Press John, and you’re absolutely right. We say it’s a shame that all the small shops are closing and we say it every time we drive past them on the way to Tesco.  

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