Michael Ward, who took over the role from Philip Edge, told delegates at the NFMFT's annual conference that, in general, independent retailers are riding out the recession reasonably well as consumers tend seek out less expensive cuts. He said: "Somehow we need to get over the message that there is more to meat and meat products found in butchers' shops than supermarkets put on their shelves."
Ward said he believed butchers had the knowledge and the capacity to come through the financial blip. He highlighted the versatility of the pig and its value during difficult times: "As we know, in times past, the pig was a butcher's friend. It is swift to grow, easy and relatively inexpensive to feed and every part commanded a price. It is the most valuable meat producer in terms of carcase yield and saleable yield."
However, he said that range of cuts had now been lost to consumers, and he laid the blame on the lack of variety at the door of the supermarkets.
Ward also announced the NFMFT would be abandoning its annual conference format, replacing the yearly meeting with a series of more frequent, smaller regional roadshow meetings. The executive council was also being reformed, with council member numbers reduced from 18 to 12. "The Federation has continued its evolution and I expect that to continue so that it can remain relevant to its members' needs."
He also did not hold back from attacking the supermarkets' various advertising campaigns either, singling out Morrisons particularly.
Ward said: "I wonder if you have seen Morrisons' latest TV advertisements where they are promoting their "butcher's- style" sausages. What does that mean? This follows complaints received from members about the multiples continued use of the expression, "the Family Butcher."
He added: "Imitation is said to be the sincerest form of flattery and so like the advertisements for Butchers pet food, perhaps we should accept that it keeps our profile in the consumers mind, but Morrisons should stop "putting on the style" and leave the genuine product to be provided by us."