Butcher warns of credit crunch impact

A top butcher has warned colleagues in the trade that they will have to carefully assess their businesses to get through the current economic downturn and credit crunch.

The president of the National Federation of Meat and Food Traders, Philip Edge, went on to warn of the potentially high cost of laying off staff.

Speaking to liverymen of the Worshipful Company of Butchers at Butchers' Hall in London, Edge said:

"Butchers didn't fare too badly over the '90's but we will have to look at our costs over the coming months, if not years."

Going as far as making staff redundant could cost a business as much as £16,500 per head, he added.

Customers face many challenges in buying food such as interpreting the names of cuts and, in the case of pre-packaged foods, being governed in the amount of product they purchase by the size of the pack. At least customers who shop with independent butchers have the advantage of being able to buy as little or as much of a product as they want without being dictated by the packaging, he said.

The future of the trade will be determined by the availability of butchers. With an average age of over 50 there is a need for new and younger entrants to the industry, Edge said. With this in mind new butchers' schools and training enterprises like the initiative recently set up by the Federation and the relatively new training facility being operated by Ensors of Cinderford will play a valuable role.

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