Stuart Christie elected SFMTA president

Stuart Christie of Christie Meats in Dumbartonshire has been elected president of the Scottish Federation of Meat Traders Association.

He suceeds Jamie Chapman of Chapmans Butchers in Wishaw. Lanarkshire, who held the post for two years.

Stuart runs a butchers shop in Hardgate and farms at Dunitglennan Farm on the Kilpatrick raising beef for his retail sales. He told delegates at the SFTMA AGM that he would like to forge closer ties with farmers. "I come from a livestock background and I know that too many farmers perceive butchers as creaming off an unfair amount of the profit that comes from an animal. Not all, but some, believe that they breed, feed and nurture a beast for over three years before they receive any return from it. In their eyes the butcher buys the beast and in a little over three weeks receives his return."

Stuart explained: "They fail to realise that we require more labour per animal processed than they do, that we have rates to pay on every square inch of our premises, substantial utility bills, cleansing and waste collection charges, and in larger licensed premises Meat Hygiene Service charges to boot. Greater understanding of the processes, objectives and constraints of both sectors would seem to be mutually beneficial."

Stuart added that like past president Jamie Chapman he was also a great believer in the livestock auction system. "There you can choose your own animals and bid what you think they are worth. It allows the farmer to sell his stock, the butcher to satisfy his needs and supports the local abattoir and wider local economy. The supermarkets don't like this system and what they perceive as its weaknesses - price, quality and size volatility - we can see as its strengths."

He continued: "It allows us to demonstrate that we buy locally, that we choose what we want and that we are seeking to reduce food miles and the resulting 'carbon footprint'.I'm not denying meat wholesalers the vital role that they play in supplying us all - but then they've used the market system for years and demonstrated its strengths."

Stuart said he hoped to instigate a 'buddying' scheme where butchers who use the market system take along butchers who don't. "They may not feel that the system is for them, but it will give them a knowledge of the system their suppliers use that they can pass on to their customers. It's also a good day out and can perhaps be extended to other functions of our trade."