Best of British inspires £17k buy

West Country butcher Gerald David has bought a quartet of award-winning beef cattle for his five Somerset and Devon shops, at a cost of more than £17,000.

Gerald said he made the gesture to show support for British farmers.

In recent weeks he has paid £9,500 for the Royal Smithfield supreme champion, £4,500 for the Royal Welsh Show champion, £2,000 for the Ludlow champion and £1,250 for the same show's reserve. All four are Limousin crosses.

For good measure, he also bought the Royal Smithfield champion lamb.

According to Gerald, Limousin crosses are the best beef cattle for butchers.

"They've got good depth and cover, with small heads and small bones so there's a good killing-out percentage," he said.

The Royal Smithfield champion weighed 595kg live and 402kg dead, the Royal Welsh 656/436kg, the Ludlow champion 574/362kg, and the reserve 655/442kg.

The Royal Welsh animal killed out at 66% and the other three at 67.5%.

Gerald, who also owns a Devon processing plant and a pub, has paid about 10 times more than he would for other equivalent animals.

He acknowledges, though, that it brings his business good publicity and he reckons it is worth the extra outlay to support British farmers and to give his shop customers the chance to buy champion meat.

"I feel so strongly about our British beef. Even when foreign meat was half the price I wouldn't buy it. I've tried to encourage farmers to produce the best and the only way to do that is to pay them."

Customers will have to specially request the champion meat. Gerald has shops in Minehead, Dulverton, Taunton, Newton Abbott and Topsham.

Asked if he would be charging 10 times the normal price for the meat, he replied: "I wish."

However, customers visiting the pub he has just bought, the Culborne Stables Inn between Porlock and Lynmouth, may find some of the meat in their £7.95 Sunday lunch.

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