National Butchers Week to go with a bang

National Butchers’ Week gets underway this weekend with butchers across the UK preparing all manner of events to raise the industry profile. And MTJ will be using the week to reveal the results of a startling new survey into consumers knowledge of meat.

This year’s promotion, 13-20 March and organised by Meat Trades Journal, is putting the butcher firmly in the consumer mind as the ultimate experts in meat. The entire week is aiming to encourage customers to get back into the butcher's shop and "Ask the Expert" to make the most of the skills and knowledge on offer.

And in a survey of 1,000 consumers, MTJ will be able to reveal some startling gaps in basic meat knowledge among consumers. Watch this space for more on that early next week.

National Butchers Week is capturing the imagination of proactive butchers who, between them, are hoping to generate a stir during the week.

One such butcher is Haigs in Coventry, which is organising a battle between the professions to see who can produce the best new sausage. Julie Haig says the shop has already signed up around five customers and aims to have around eight to 10 people competing on 14 March. With competitors including a midwife, an engineer and a bank clerk, the sausages should prove interesting.

“Everyone has to make up their own sausage varieties, and my husband will give them a lesson
first before leaving them to get on with it,” says Julie. “We’re normally closed on a Monday, but we’re inviting anyone along to watch  the fun, and we’ll be providing a free buffet.” Local media is already showing an interest and Julie says the local BBC news is likely to be filming.

In the home counties, John Allen, who runs Allen & Sons in Colchester is aiming to highlight the value on offer in butchers, with a supermarket price comparison. He said he is looking to dispel the myth that butchers are more expensive than the larger retailers: “I’m not sure the public compare the price per kilo. The supermarkets know this and adjust the gram contents of the pack to say £2.99 per pack, which looks cheap.” He said he would be marketing his own products alongside larger retailer offers to show consumers where they could get the best deal.

Further north, John Mettrick who runs JW Mettrick & Sons in Glossop, will be running several events for young people, from sausage-making for primary school children to a sausage recipe challenge for older catering students. “We’ll be giving them a sausage-making demo and then challenging them to develop their own recipe, make it, and present them to us for judging.”

Aubrey Allen in Leamington Spa will be carrying out a range of events during the week and bringing its butchers from behind the counter for hands-on demonstrations in the shop, among other things.

Meanwhile, Foxbury Farm Shop, in Brize Norton, Oxfordshire, will be aiming to use the week to try and reconnect customers with where food comes from. As well as giving people hands-on experience of sausage-making, the shop will also be providing cutting demonstrations and giving people the chance to watch the shop’s butchers break down carcases.

In Scotland, Douglas Scott, chief executive of the Scottish Federation of Meat Traders Association, will use the week to promote the Meat Skills Scotland competition, in which butchers compete for a title in two categories — under 22 and over 22. Judging will be taking place during National Butchers’ Week, and Scott said he would use the events to focus attention on the level of skills within the trade.

Ed Bedington, editor of MTJ, said: “It’s really great to see so many different activities going on
during the week, and we’ve only mentioned a fraction of the number of butchers who are organising
their own events and promotional schemes.

“This year we’ve got more and more butchers taking part, which is great to see. We need as many people as possible getting on board and making the most of the opportunity the week provides. And remember to keep us informed of your plans; it not only allows us to give you a plug, but we can also help with promotion in the local press.”

The theme of the week is ‘Ask the Expert’ and MTJ will be generating as much press coverage as possible to get the message across to consumers that butchers are the experts to ask if you want to make the most of your meat.

To help spread the word further to consumers, MTJ has also set up a new Facebook page dedicated to the week, featuring recipes, videos and more. Sign up and share
with your friends by clicking  http://tinyurl.com/62lhrah. A Twitter feed has also been created, and is available by clicking http://twitter.com/NBW2011.

For further information or materials on the week, contact Rachael Cannon on 01293 610433, or send her an email on rachael.cannon@wrbm.com. And do not forget to drop Ed a line with your NBW news on ed.bedington@wrbm.com, or call him on 01293 846567.

National Butchers’ Week is supported by the National Federation of Meat & Food Traders (NFMFT), the Scottish Federation of Meat Traders Association and the Q Guild. Sponsoring the awards are: Eblex, Bpex, Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales, Dalziel, Weddel Swift, Lucas Ingredients, MRC The Flava People and Gordon Rhodes (Dalesman).

>> Join the NBW party

>> National Butchers' Week microsite