I have been very heartened by the state of the meat trade over the last 18 months.

Parts of the industry went through some pretty rough times in the 1990s and at the time of foot & mouth disease but things have really picked up now.

I'm sure that much of the work on quality control, traceability and due diligence is beginning to pay off; many supply chains are now fully linked and communicating well with each other.

Here in East Anglia I can honestly say that in the last year and a half I've not had a poor piece of beef delivered to my door. It's been the same story with ducks. Years ago the quality was variable but now there's a good supply of free-range, hand-plucked ducks available.

And as far as ingredients are concerned, well we're spoilt for choice today.

Another area where I'm now noticing a big change is in the use of forequarter meat. This summer, top quality hindquarter cuts at wholesale have been relatively cheap and yet forequarters have been relatively expensive as we're all using it to make burgers for the barbecue trade.

I hope some more development work can be done to further improve forequarter sales. There are plenty ready to knock the meat trade but I really think we've turned the corner now. We've even got exports back. The future is bright.