Farm shops reported sales increases of up to 20% on the weekend after the horsemeat scandal broke, as consumers lost confidence in large retailers.
In an informal poll of the audience at the conference, made up of farm shop owners, managers and those working in the industry, many reported increased sales, some by as much as a fifth.
Last week, Farmers Weekly reported butchers had seen increased trade, and it appears farm shops and farmers’ markets have also seen an upside to the scandal.
“Red meat sales have been hugely up in the last couple of weeks,” said Nigel Chandler, owner of Garson’s Farm Shop in Esher, Surrey.
“A lot of customers I talk to are looking for quality ingredients.”
While many consumers were looking for cheap food, others wanted retailers they could trust, Welcome to Yorkshire chief executive Gary Verity told the conference.
“Farm shops equal authenticity. That’s why you had a boom weekend. Exactly that,” he said.
To capitalise on the horsemeat scandal, farmers were advised to tell the story of where their produce came from. “Farms shops are able to demonstrate clearly the link back to the farm and, with meat, able to guarantee the kind of animal it comes from,” said Mr Jones.
The challenge for farmers who are selling beef is finding a way of selling the front end of the animal as well as the back end. This is where processing comes in, which offers another opportunity, he said.