The best yet

With less than a month to go until the big day, MTJ's Butchers' Fair Autumn is shaping up to be the best yet. The event, taking place at the Yorkshire Event Centre, Harrogate on Sunday 7 October 2012, will follow the same format as previous successful fairs, offering butchers a great opportunity to network with suppliers and peers, gather inspiration and share skills, best practice and innovation. And, with an extensive list of exhibitors, some first-class speakers and the return of MTJ's prestigious Champion of Champions and the National Pie Competition, the Autumn fair promises to be bigger and better than ever.

British Bonanza

As Aprils go, last year’s was an absolute corker. The barometer rose, the sun and barbecues came out and barely had the Easter eggs been swallowed, than a swelter of bunting and flag-waving broke out, along with collective national swooning over Kate’s dress and Pippa’s bottom.

Casings: International investment

Most shoppers will look at the brand, the recipe, the price, the promotional offer and probably the country of origin of the meat used when buying sausages, but far fewer will give a moment’s thought to the casing.

Games gridlock?

The London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics will offer some big opportunities for businesses supplying meat into London. It is estimated that the Games will generate a £750m increase in spending, the majority of which will be in the food and hospitality sector. However, with 37 venues across London and an estimated 20m spectators expected on top of normal London traffic, they could also prove to be a logistical nightmare.

Casings: Abattoir appeal

Natural casings manufacturers are appealing to processors to take more care of delicate sheep intestines, saying some operators may even have to slow down their lines a little to achieve better quality. The manufacturers are looking for better value-for-money as costs rise, more training of gut room staff in the handling, cleaning and storage of the product, and a minimum quality standard.

A point of difference

Everyone, it seems, is a sucker for a decent bacon sarnie. The booming bacon market bears testament to this fact, with strong sales of bacon over the last year. Around 90% of households buy bacon and, over the last 12 months, shoppers have topped up on more rashers per trip. Total bacon volumes in the 52 weeks to 19 February rose 3.1%, with values also up by 4.4% from the previous year.

Flawed science

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Asset management

Four months after winning the title of Butcher’s Shop of the Year 2011, Scottish butcher John Davidson is still reflecting on his hard-won success. “It’s great that we won,” he says. “Although we were doing very well before, it has given us even more credibility — and it’s nice that people think you are the best and that you deserve the accolade.”

National Butchers' Week 2012 Preview

Butchers up and down the country are being urged to make the most of this year’s National Butchers’ Week, which takes place later this month. The week, now in its fifth year and taking place from 25-31 March, is aimed at raising the profile of the vibrant butchery sector and puts the spotlight firmly on the craft skills, expertise and the great things the industry has to offer.

Model behaviour

In most butchers’ shops 80% of the fresh meat sold is cut and 20% is minced, retail butcher Allan Bennett estimates. Bacon and cooked meats are the main meats sliced, of course.

Caught in the web

Unlike the volatility inherent in the stock market, commodity prices or indeed the price of meat itself, the market for butchers’ sundries is one that does not tend to fluctuate wildly over the course of the year. Although trends do come and go, there is no doubt that butchers need a steady supply of ancillary products to run their businesses, and that these incorporate everything from twine to sausage casings, hygiene products and knives to pre-packed and display trays.

POS-itive thinking

When Aubrey Allen of Leamington Spa had a shop refit in April this year, getting the point-of-sale features right was a priority. Simple, informative POS, such as posters and recipe leaflets, are effective tools for boosting sales, but in addition Aubrey Allen decided to opt for a new printed window display, a dry-ageing beef cabinet, and a flat-screen TV showing different products and services.

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