The competition has seen some superb entries and the judges are currently whittling the entries down to a final shortlist. Once the first round of judging is out of the way, our judges will then hit the road to visit our shortlisted entries before deciding which are the best shops in the country.
MTJ editor Ed Bedington said: "We've had some really strong entries and it's going to be a tough job for the judges to pick out our finalists, let alone the winners. To win a title like this can really provide a welcome boost to your business. I look forward to seeing all the finalists in November."
There are regional awards for:
North of England
Midlands/East of England
South of England
Of those regional winners, an overall winner is declared the Best Butcher's Shop in the UK.
Other awards are given for:
Farm Shop of the Year
Butcher's Plus of the Year
Innovation of the Year
Young Butcher of the Year
Previous winners have seen huge benefits following their success, with last year's overall winner Martin Brereton of Bexleys of Old Swan, Liverpool, reporting significant increases in trade after his win. This year's event will be held at the Sheraton Park Lane Hotel in London, on 17 November.
The awards are sponsored by BPEX, EBLEX, Weddell Swift & Harmony Farm, QMS' Scotch Butchers Club, Lucas Ingredients, Tican, the Meat Training Council and Cherry Valley.
Lucas Ingredients sales development manager Steve Derrick said: "Lucas is proud to be sponsoring the Awards again this year as it is vital that the important work of the retail butcher is recognised and supported. Lucas has many loyal customers and these high-profile Awards provide us with a great opportunity to say "thank you" and profile some of our best-used products."
Bill Jermey, chairman of the Meat Training Council, said: "The Meat Training Council supports the BSOTY awards because they recognise the wide-ranging skills that butchers need these days. In particular, The Young Butcher Award seeks to highlight what young men and women all over the country are achieving. Recognising these achievements acts as an inspiration for others to do the same."
June Lomax, from the Scotch Butchers' Club, said: "To encourage the development of the butchery sector, the Scotch Butchers' Club is delighted to sponsor BSOTY once more.
"Local butchers have a big part to play in the move to encourage consumers back to the high street, and the shops that enter this competition, culminating in the very high standard of the winners, are at the forefront of this movement."
Jason Wilkie, trading director with Tican Chilled, said: "We support the awards, because they encourage our customers to develop and diversify and meet the challenges of the modern retail market. The retail butchery market is core to our business and we want to see it flourish."
Keith Carey, from Harmony Farm, said: "Harmony Farm is delighted to continue its sponsorship of BSOTY for 2009. As sponsors since the competition's inception, we are pleased to be connected with a contest that promotes excellence and rewards effort and innovation within the butchery trade."
Rachael Bennett, marketing manager with Cherry Valley, said: "We are really excited about being part of the BSOTY awards and we feel that it is the perfect event to promote our new brand, Farm Fresh Duck, brought to you by Cherry Valley."
For details on BSOTY, or to book your place at the awards, contact Helen Law on 01293 846587, or email email@example.com.