Butchers' sundires: keeping ahead of the trends

Aaron McDonald investigates what developments butchers ought to be looking out for in the sundries market

Without reliable equipment butchers, like most trades, would struggle to establish themselves in the industry. With constant pressure from the multiples coupled with a constant demand from consumers for something different and innovative, it is essential for butchery businesses to stay on top of demand. The sundries’ market is extensive. Packaging, strings and twines, cutting equipment and trays are just some examples of equipment encompassed within the sector.

The Dalziel Group has been serving butchers for over 90 years. “On our side of the business, one of the biggest things that we work with the customers with is merchandising,” says the groups retail butchery sales director, Danny Upson. He believes that the presentation of a business is a key feature in finding success. “I think it’s a very important aspect of a retail butchery business and many of our customers are looking how to better display their meat products so it’s more inspiring, it has more impact with their customers and creates that impulse buy.”


Though the display of products is a crucial part of the business, the presentation is not limited to just how the meat is laid out. It is important to sell the whole business, and the way in which staff members present themselves is a crucial element in this.  “Another area which has seen big demand for us is clothing,” adds Upson. Dalziel offers customers aprons, oven gloves and trilbies to give just an example of its clothing range. “The customer is able to design their own clothing colours, their own branding and the customers that we’ve had have actually got the whole front of store staff all kitted out with these new uniforms, it completely transformed the business.”

Clean, crisp uniforms reassure customers about the cleanliness of the business

Brace of Butchers in Dorchester, winners of Meat Trades Journal’s best new butcher’s shop at last year’s Butcher’s Shop of the Year Awards, may still only be in its infancy, but the award-winning business has recognised the importance of ensuring smartly dressed staff. Employers are required to wear black trousers, a shirt and tie, a white coat with a blue apron, a theme that fits in with the rest of the interior of the store.
“If you’re looking smart, and the shop looks smart, then the customers are automatically put at rest because the shop looks nice and clean and you’re uniform looks nice and clean,” explains Rob Owen, one of two specialist butchers at Brace of Butchers.“It shows that care and attention is being paid to the presentation of the business.”


Perhaps the biggest threat that butchers are facing throughout the country comes from large multiples. To set themselves apart from this competition, independent butchers’ shops are encouraged to utilise the benefits that sundries can offer. “I think that they need to be able to stand up against the supermarkets,” says Grant Parker, business development manager of Parkers Food Machinery. The company has been trading since 1999 after establishing itself as a food and meat processing machinery importer and distributor. Roughly six years ago, the business branched out to sell sundries products relating to the equipment already supplied.

“Although everyone knows that the quality of butchers’ meat is so much better and the customer service is generally much more meat focussed and better than the supermarkets, they need to be able to look as clean, crisp, tidy and presentable as you would expect to see if you walked into a Tesco express store,” continues Parker. He believes that clear labelling helps communicate the message that butchers have an advantage over supermarkets when it comes to helping the consumer make the correct purchase. “They need to have clear price points, whether it is price per kilo or pre-packed.” 

It isn’t just enough to ensure that products are labelled, but they ought to be branded in a way that displays the business’ own sense of identity and individuality. “A lot of butchers that do pre-packed are buying their own bespoke made labels now,” comments parker. “So rather than just having a scale that prints the basics, they’re having the logos put on them. Again, it all adds to the presentation and the brand of their individual butchers shops.”The significance of portraying a butcher’s uniqueness is a trend that Dalziel has also picked up upon. To meet this demand, the group has recently launched a labelling machine that will allow a business to establish its own fingerprint. “Our customers will be able to simply print their own labels very, very quickly,” says Upson. “So if they’ve got a new product to push, they can quickly print off a new label for that product with their own branding and their own design. “What seems to be popular at the moment is having that handwritten-like image. This computer software does that, so it looks like it’s handwritten, but it’s not.”


Throughout the year, different occasions present different opportunities for butchers to market their offerings. With summer on the horizon, the Dalziel group are developing a different kind of kebab for barbecue season. “Traditionally, we just used the wood ones, one size and that’s it,” admits Upson. “But now demand from customers is they want more stylish, better kebab sticks.” The company are introducing metal skewers that will allow butchers to maximise the quantity of meat on the kebab. “We’re looking at a big metal kebab stick with enough meat on it for serving two. We’ll supply the metal skewer and the butcher will supply the meat and the marinade and everything else, and the customer can just throw it on the barbecue.”


Bags have been a hot topic of discussion since the plastic bag tax came into effect in October last year. Burgass Carrier Bags have been providing businesses with a range of carrier bags to meet a company’s needs. Lucy Larkman, from Burgass, tells Meat Trades Journal that she expects a rise in bags for life sales, alongside an increase in the paper range. 

“We offer polythene bags that are more than 70 microns in thickness so not subject to the carrier bag tax”

“All our polythene bags have a degradable additive, but we also offer recycled polythene bags for the even more environmentally conscious.”Larkman says that the Burgass’ in-house team are always on hand to ensure that customers make the correct decision in buying a bag. “We will always advise butchers on bag selection, discussing what they need to put in their bags and suggest a bag and gauge/thickness to suit,” she adds. “Polythene or paper is a personal choice with paper becoming increasingly popular. Twisted handle bags are exceptionally and surprisingly durable.”In addition to carrier bags being supplied to customers, another important aspect in presentation is the packaging that the products are served in.

Upson explains that butchers go through a lot of trouble to make sure their meat is the best quality for their customers. Subsequently, they want this image to be carried throughout the whole shopping experience. Products should be neatly passed on to patrons, not just thrown into any bag. “They’re looking for something that we call a keep-fresh bag where they can actually put it into what looks like a brown paper bag, but it’s not,” he says. “Its special paper that keeps the meat looking fresh and it’s got a nice little window on it so when the customer takes it home it looks like they’ve got something special.”

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