The horsemeat scandal is driving shoppers to ditch ready-made supermarket meals in favour of fresh, locally produced meat at farmers’ markets.

Hampshire Farmers’ Market (HFM) chairman Toby Bowtell reported an increase in the sales of fresh meat at recent markets held throughout the county.

“We have had some cracking markets over the last few weeks, with shoppers buying well, especially meat products, with more shoppers coming specifically to buy fresh meat to cook their own meals from scratch,” said Mr Bowtell, who himself farms in East Tisted, Alton.

“Many shoppers are saying they have chucked out the supermarket ready meals because they want to know where their food is coming from and that it is genuine locally produced and be assured of what they are serving to their families.”

Since the horsemeat scandal broke, the markets have also been attracting a broader range of visitors, including younger shoppers, he added.

“Many are saying how much they enjoy the friendly atmosphere and the chance to talk to the producers.”

HFM business manager Alex Hanford said there were many benefits of buying from producers at markets, including assured quality and traceability.

“Our meat producers selling beef, pork, lamb, water buffalo, goat, poultry and game supply produce that is fully traceable from stock that has been cared for with the highest levels of animal husbandry and welfare, ensuring the best quality and taste, with lots of sampling opportunities so people can try before they buy,” he explained.

“We are also certified by FARMA the National Farmers Retail and Markets Association.”

Market visitors are also surprised by the affordability of the food as the savings in middleman cut are passed on to customers.

HFM has carried out extensive price comparison surveys over recent months and found a large number of items that were actually cheaper than the supermarkets.

“The benefits of the markets to the local economy and environment also include reduced food miles and helping to maintain local rural jobs,” Mr Handford said.

Hampshire Farmers’ Markets are held regularly across Hampshire in Alton, Andover, Cosham, Elvetham Heath, Emsworth, Petersfield, Romsey, Southsea and Winchester. HFM is a not-for-profit community interest organisation.

Family butchers have also been enjoying a resurgence in popularity since the horsemeat scandal broke, with some reporting a 40% increase in sales of fresh burgers.

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