7 June 1996

Buying with confidence

Sales of beefburgers and sausages have doubled at their farm shop since the BSE scare, because customers know what is going into them, says Mrs Frith.

THE Friths have maintained that their beef is free from BSE ever since they started selling meat in their farm shop five years ago.

And the advertising has certainly paid dividends. Although it may be hard to believe given recent media slatings, Evelyn Frith says sales of beefburgers and sausages have doubled since mid-May.

Why? "Because our customers know what is going into them," she says.

"And when they come here they have the opportunity to talk about BSE and try to understand what the facts really are. They want to believe what they are told and buy meat with confidence."

All meat is produced extensively and hung for 28 days. Beef is sourced from the 225-head pedigree Hereford herd. It tends to be darker than supermarket products, due to the hanging time, so Mrs Frith says customers need educating into accepting it.

"Customers are generally older folk who were used to good quality meat years ago. We also have a growing number of younger people worried about animal welfare, and, since the recent scares, parents with young children," she says.

Overall, the shop has gained, not lost, beef sales in recent weeks. Currently they are two-thirds up on last years levels. This translates into a beast a month going through the shop in 1995 to three recently.

"Our selling point is that the meat is natural," says Mrs Frith. "Customers go for that. They certainly blame the government for the recent problems but there is also a very strong anti-European feeling out there." &#42