Summer 2011, I was huddled on a park bench in Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh getting my eat on with a sausage roll and a steak bake from Gregg's. Fast forward two years and we are in the middle of a huge food crisis, not a food shortage but a crisis non-the-less. The horsemeat scandal hit the headlines and highlighted the gross neglegance of our biggest companies, they literally lied to us to increase profits.
Food production is a difficult process, there are many rules and regulations of quality and safety conducted on food production in the UK. All that can be bypassed by simple import of meat from abroad, meat which is labelled as beef and pork could in fact be anything. The main problem is that price and demand for cheap meat products leads us to more and more risky adventures with our culinary exploits. Meat injected with water used to be the main complaint of cheap supermarket cuts, now it is whether you might find a hoof or a small mane nestling inside your pre cooked lasagne.
The resulting fallout from this crisis has been the total loss of trust from consumers, people can't believe labels anymore and the fines imposed on those found guilty of the lies are laughable. Pre-packaged meals and pastries are two of the main products hit by this mistrust, of course unable to see the meat it is difficult to ascertain whether it is indeed what it says on the tin. Those affected tend to be the least affluent in society, targeted with huge advertising campaigns to tempt them to eat cheaply, it is difficult to ascertain just what immoral individual would actually feed thousands with contaminated meat.
Gregg's the once most loved lunch time eatery for many working professionals has seen a massive decline in sales, issuing a profit warning ahead of their latest results.The fall has been blamed on adverse weather conditions, surprising considering the main product is a hot pastry you might have concluded sales would be boosted by the unseasonably cold weather. Whilst Gregg's has in no way been implicated
The good news is for local butchers and British farmers, who with increased demand have benefited. This impact will also be positive for our local communities and high street retailers who will see increased foot flow with less people purchasing meat from the large out of town warehouses, customer service is better, products are better and price is not as different as you may think.