National Butchers' Week gears up

With less than a month-and-a-half to go to National Butchers' Week, from March 16-21, retailers are being urged to get planning to make the most of the week.

Ed Bedington, editor of MTJ, said: "We're already starting to get interest from the media about the event. In fact, it was mentioned in The Independent only the other week, so it's vital that you all get your thinking caps on. We really need to make the most of the opportunity the week gives us to create a real splash around the butchery business."

Included in the most recent issue of MTJ Xtra is the NBW PR Toolkit, aimed at helping butchers to make the most of the week. The toolkit features top tips on how to put together a press release, along with a sample release for butchers to adapt for themselves, how to take a good promotional picture or, better still, get in the local paper to take one for you, as well as ideas for promotions during the week. The packs also include a window sticker and an A3 promotional poster for butchers to publicise promotions during the week.

This is the second time MTJ has organised National Butchers' Week and last year saw some good groundwork laid. A number of butchers pulled the stops out and managed to generate some great publicity, and the work by MTJ saw widespread coverage for the sector across the national media. We even managed to get the week a mention on Terry Wogan's Radio 2 show, with a little help from some Champion of Champion's sausages.

This year we've enlisted even more celebrity help, with the backing of Masterchef presenter John Torode. He said: "Butchers should stand up and say, 'I am proud to be a craftsman'."

MTJ will also be looking for a repeat on Terry Wogan's show, with the assistance of this year's Champion of Champion's winner Steve Vaughn's special sausages. The week is also being supported by the winners from the recent Butcher's Shop of the Year Awards, who have all agreed to act as spokespeople.

Liverpool-based Bexley's, this year's overall winner of Butcher's Shop of the Year, is already planning for the week. Martin Brereton, director with Bexley's said the week was a great way to generate publicity for the sector. Bedington added: "It's great to have the support of our winning butchers - having some of the best businesses in the sector is a great way to promote the industry. But we need all butchers to get behind the week as well."

The week is being supported by the National Federation of Meat & Food Traders (NFMFT), the Scottish Federation of Meat Traders Association (SFMTA) and the Guild of Q. Philip Cranston, chair of the Q Guild, said: "We're very pleased to be supporting this week again. Any event which helps to fly the flag for our sector is great news. We'll be urging our members to get involved and make the most out of this great opportunity."

Graham Bidston, chief executive of the NFMFT, said: "Last year's event got us off to a good start and we'll be keen to see our members build on that success and make this year's week bigger and better."

Douglas Scott, chief executive of the SFMTA, added: "It's always good to see events that help raise the profile of the butchery sector. We're pleased to give our backing to this event."

Sponsorship is also being kindly provided by BPEX, Verstegen Spices & Sauces, Manchester Rusk Company, Lucas Ingredients, Dalziel, Hygicare, Viscofan, Harmony Farm and Weddel Swift. This year will also see our sponsors getting out and about to support the week. Viscofan is working with a number of butchers up and down the country to produce sausages for certain sections of the community - schools, old people's homes and fire stations, for example.

Vince Minchella, from Viscofan, said: "The aim is to highlight the butchers' existence as an important part of the community and to emphasise their presence." Viscofan will be supplying the butchers with free casings and a contribution to the costs. Any butchers wishing to get involved with Viscofan during the week can contact Minchella on info@naturin-ltd.viscofan.com

Andy Lea, from Weddel Swift, said: "We're delighted to be backing National Butchers' Week. It's a great opportunity to promote the trade and get consumers flocking to their local butcher. Butchers are an important part of the high street's fabric and we need to make sure they get the recognition they deserve."

The emphasis for this year's week will be on economy cuts. With the UK facing a difficult economic situation, more and more consumers will be looking to save money and cut their meal budgets. MTJ will be promoting butchers as being expertly placed to help consumers save money, without allowing the dinner table to suffer.

MTJ editor Ed Bedington said: "Butchers have the knowledge and expertise to be able to offer consumers the right advice and information on how to choose and cook the cheaper cuts. We need to get that message out to consumers - that it's not just supermarkets where you can get a good deal - they need to get down to their local butcher."

And of course, butchers can complete their look during this National Butchers' Week by kitting out their team with NBW-branded aprons. Last year saw butchers up and down the country dressing staff and customers in the stylish black aprons. Each apron is available for £7.95, including post & packaging. Contact Helen Law on 01293 846587 to place your order.

To find out more about this year's event click here