Philip Cranston, Chairman, Guild of Q Butchers

Food provenance and food miles are two topical issues that remain high on the consumer agenda.

There is a distinct trend towards "buy local, eat local", with more consumers latching on to the fact that food is fresher and better if it is retailed a few miles from where it was produced and processed. The recent case of the Scottish prawns being sent to the Far East to be shelled, before returning to Scotland and sold under a brand name that suggests "freshness", is a nonsense that many consumers will not tolerate.

The Guild of Q Butchers is committed to supporting the British farming industry, with home-produced beef, lamb, pork, game and poultry the preferred choice. Obviously, not all Q butchers can source their raw material from the farm down the road. But even if the meat has travelled only a few hundred miles - say from Scotland to the south of England - surely that must be better than the many thousands of air miles and gallons of aviation fuel involved in flying in chicken from Thailand or beef from Namibia.

Apart from the distances travelled, there is the question of provenance. Q butchers take great care in the purchasing of their meat and other products, including ingredients. The UK has taken a lead on assurance and traceability and Q butchers, coupled with their own endorsement of assurance through the Guild's EFSIS audit on quality and hygiene, can demonstrate to their customers the true provenance of what they sell.

Guild members are proud to be at the top end of the independent retail meat trade. For instance, Q butchers won three regional titles and the best farm shop award in MTJ's 2006 Best Butcher Shop of the Year, with many others short-listed.

Guild members regularly win national and local championships for products and services and the Guild's own competitions, such as the National Barbecue Championships to be held in Scotland in June and the recent Product Evaluation for the Smithfield Awards, produce many exciting and innovative ideas, which are shared among the membership - one of the real benefits of being part of the Q butcher nationwide network.

Not only does the Q stand for unsurpassed standards of quality of meat, products, shop and staff, but also quality of service to customers - one that embraces the concept that British is best, but local is even better.

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