Consumers do think pigs have wings

People often express surprise when I blog about the attitudes, beliefs and fondly held notions held by many potential customers for our Berkshire pigs and pork.

After all, they say, customers can’t be that ignorant or naive, can they?

Well, the Daily Telegraph today reports on a survey done for the Meat Trades Journal, to coincide with National Butchers’ Week.

The survey found, among other things, that 20 per cent of consumers surveyed incorrectly identified wing of pork, leg of liver and lamb drumstick as cuts of meat they could expect to see at their local butcher’s.

Even more surprisingly, the same number of people believed tofu and tofu ribs were meat-based delicacies.

Ten per cent didn’t believe calf’s liver was a real cut of meat, while the same proportion believed haggis, faggots, game pie and oxtail contained no meat.

The Telegraph quoted the editor of the Meat Trades Journal as saying, “we seem to be going backwards when it comes to basic food knowledge”.

I can’t say I’m surprised. After all, people have left comments on the blog like this:

“I’m having to explain to my teenage granddaughter that there are evil, nasty men who do this sort of thing to poor, innocent, defenceless animals. Why do you have to kill and torture such loveable little creatures? Does it make you feel big and strong? Why can’t you eat sausages, burgers and chicken like other normal people? I’d phone the RSPCA if I knew where you lived. It’s really, really sick what you’re doing.”

Others have been shocked to discover they’d have to kill a pig to get pork from it:

“You’re sure we have to have them killed? I mean, can’t you have pork without killing the pigs?”

I’m no longer surprised when people come out with this sort of thing, although it was a relief to discover beliefs like this are widespread in the UK. I was starting to think we’re a nutter magnet!

Anyway, another interesting point to come out of the survey was that 41 per cent of people surveyed said they found their local butcher too expensive.

The Telegraph reported that many butchers were now unable to compete with supermarkets, as they consistently offer low prices.

It’s precisely the position we find ourselves in. Many customers believe butchers and farm outlets should be pricing their meat at the same level as the lowest priced supermarket offerings, regardless of quality, scale, localness, overheads or anything else.

As beliefs go, it’s up there with believing pigs have wings.

10 Responses to “Consumers do think pigs have wings”

  1. I blame Pink Floyd for people thinking pigs can fly.

    It’s all rather depressing.

  2. If nothing else, those comments provided a great laugh. People who make them make me feel smarter than I really am.

    Thanks. Now I have to rest my cheeks. They are sore from laughing.

  3. I also laughed when I read this, but it really isn’t very funny, is it ? It’s quite tragic.

    When I was a child (okay, a l.o.n.g time ago) we all knew where our meat came from. The local butcher in the area would have the carcasses hanging behind the counter. Rabbits were displayed hanging in the shop window – heads still intact. It was a perfectly natural part of life. My father raised pigs and chickens, and we hunted for rabbits, pigeons etc.

    Nowadays, folk see meat cling-wrapped in the supermarket fridges, and give no thought to where it comes from. Our teachers should be planning school trips to farms and butchers in order to educate our little ones.

    On shopping at the local butcher as opposed to the supermarkets – yes, some cuts are more expensive, but the difference in taste is worth every penny. I would never buy the cr*p they are calling meat in the supermarkets.

    • Most butchers will be more expensive because they have higher overheads than a supermarket. They can’t buy in the quantities that supermarkets do, they’re buying British meat and not cheap imports, they don’t enjoy the discounts the supermarkets demand from producers and processors, they don’t the accountants and lawyers beavering away to minimise taxes, and the list goes on.

      We’re constantly told to be more efficient and cut costs to get out prices down to supermarket levels. It’s impossible at our scale and with our livestock management practices. Butchers are in the same position.

  4. Hi!
    I’m from Sweden, but my boy-friend’s in Newcastle so I’ve been doing some shopping in England.

    1) British pigs are top-quality. I would never dream of buying anything but British when in England.

    2) on odd thing, which might explain the consumer confusion, I was in the Granger Market and a butcher there had pork chops on display, but without the bone, and he called it something else. (maybe “butterfly steaks” or something?)So maybe “pigs wings” are not so far-fetched? And in the supermarket, my impression is that ALL meat are labelled for the dish to be made “diced pork for stew”, with no further reference to which part of the pig the pork comes from. To me, that’s completley incomprehensable and I don’t understand how to cook from that.

    3) how come that the high quality (British) meat I buy at our butcher has the same price as that … texture they sell in the supermarkets? Why don’t everybody shop good meat for the same price price as bad meat?

    I can get as nicely hunged Swedish sirloin steak in Stockholm as from Scottish cattle, but it cost £45 per kilo, while the cheap supermarket texture cost the same in Sweden and England. (as well as the nice sirloin steak).

    You say there’s a price difference between supermarket and butcher meat. I haven’t seen that. If I remember correctly, our butcher demands £15 or £20 kilo for sirloin steak, and that’s pretty much the same as in the supermarket (in Sweden and England). For bacon, I think he charges 20 pence more than supermarket. (But good yorkshire bacon, since we’re up north!)

    Really nice blog! One of the best on the internet.

  5. Agree with Lorraine; everything in the supermarket does not show any relationship to the live animal.
    I remember years ago some kids class from an in inner city Melbourne school went to a farm for a day trip. On seeing a full size cow waiting to greet them they got such a fright they took quite a bit of persuading to get off the coach. Most of them had not seen farm animals before. It had been all pictures of “small animals”.

  6. So … appalling ignorance may be about as rampant in the U.K. as in the U.S.?

    I’m not sure if I’m reassured by that or not.

  7. I laughed as I read that but I am also shocked that anyone could be so ignorant as to think that way. In the U.S. most supermarkets sell select grade meat which my brother in law who was a cattleman said that just meant the animal was alive when it went to slaughter. We have a wal mart superstore here and they have the worst meat and produce you can imagine. Rarely can you find choice anything there. I would rather pay extra for better quality any day. You are right about small farmers not being able to sell for their prices. In my opinion if you want cheap then that is what you will get.

  8. honestly why on earth do people think there are pigs and cows etc…it is because they have been farmed for meat for hundreds of years..not because they are cute and fluffy but because they taste good…that person needs to be transported back in time to an era when there were wild boar ,bears and wolves roaming about.Im sure she/he wouldn’t be so naive then.

    Cant do anything but laugh over peoples cluelessness regarding fictitious cuts of meat.

  9. To be truthful, I can imagine people calling lamb shanks “lamb drumsticks”… but not the rest!
    I try to avoid supermarket meat because not only is it overpriced for the quality, it’s badly cut. There are no professional butchers in the supermarket trade, only poorly-maintained machinery and underpaid staff who have no training in cutting meat.

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