AWARD-winning butchers in South Lakeland are reaping the benefits of the fall-out from the international horsemeat scandal.

NFU Cumbria says evidence suggests shoppers are trading up or opting for fresh British meat over imported processed meat in the wake of the controversy, which this week has seen claims that chicken and pork should also be tested.

Higginsons of Grange is one business to benefit, with sales improving since the story broke earlier this month.

Stuart Higginson, who set up the firm with wife Pauline more than 25 years ago, said: “People have been talking about it in the shop and are being very positive.

“We have noticed an increase in sales in the past week to 10 days in sales of our home-made lasagnes in the past week to 10 days I think people have been put off buying from supermarkets.

“Trade is good and this will help people to realise that they should be trusting their local butchers in terms of sourcing and traceability of the meat they consume.”

Over at Sedbergh, Chris Holmes, who owns respected Steadmans Butchers, said he hoped the row would help people realise the importance of knowing where food came from.

“I would like to be optimistic and say it will benefit us long-term but normally what happens is we see a little bit of a spike for a few weeks and as soon as supermarkets put a special offer on people go back to their old habits.

“But this is a good opportunity for us. People have this false impression that supermarkets are cheaper than local butchers but they are not - they just blind shoppers with offers.

“There are not many of us left now and we are here because we are passionate about what we do – it is not a faceless organisation and we care about the products we are selling. When we make a beefburger, it is made with top quality meat, seasoning and water – and beef.”

NFU Cumbria’s county adviser Mike Sanderson, of Appleby, said the organ-isation was angry and disappointed with retailers for ‘undermining the hard work of farmers to produce quality, traceable produce’.

He added: “It reinforces our call for clearer labelling and a commitment from retailers to British produce.

“Please buy from your local farmer, butcher or look for the Red Tractor logo on all the fresh meat you buy.

“This is the only way you can be sure that products you are feeding your family have been produced to world-class standards.”