As if the Exchequer's impositions weren’t enough, customers at certain Lincolnshire butchers are being asked to pay a tax on their sausages. Apparently the county’s sausage producers are fed up with cheap imitations of their local delicacy, so they're launching a campaign to persuade the EU to recognise the bangers’ local heritage - funded by a voluntary 5p tax on every true-blood sausage sold. It'll be interesting to see whether in these austere times, people care enough about the heritage of their food to pay extra for it...
The hope is that Lincolnshire sausages will be granted Protected Geographical Indication - akin to the likes of Melton Mowbray pork pies and Stilton cheese (which isn’t actually allowed to be produced in Stilton, but that’s another story). This would mean that only bangers produced within the county and to the traditional recipe (70% coarse ground or minced pork, natural casings and sage, if you’re interested) can be called Lincolnshires. At the moment, says horrified Lincolnshire Sausage Association chairman Janet Godfrey: 'One major retailer puts more thyme and parsley in their Lincolnshire sausages than sage'. Despicable, we’re sure you’ll agree.
You can see the benefit for the butchers: PGI status will make their wares more sought-after and prestigious, while the whole thing acts a useful PR stunt to boost sales. But will customers care enough about the provenance of their bangers to cough up the extra cash? 5p might look like a small price to pay, but at a time when budgets are being squeezed, every little counts. After all, customers who buy from their butchers are already choosing to ignore the knock-off imitations at their local supermarket - so why should they pay extra to make sure others do the same? It's no (pig)skin off their nose.
Equally, if this is just a stunt designed to sell more sausages, there are probably cheaper ways of doing it than a prolonged process with EU bean-counters (getting a Facebook page, maybe). Then again, if it's not the best marketing strategy we've ever seen, it's probably not the wurst, either.
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Bangers and cash: Lincolnshire levies sausage tax