NFMFT’s John Fuller dies aged 76

NFMFT’s John Fuller dies aged 76

John Fuller, who was director of the National Federation of Meat & Food Traders from 1973 until his retirement in 1999, has died aged 76. He was also elected Vice President of NFMFT. Meat Management understands that he died on the evening of Christmas Day, 25th December.


Born in Hastings in 1939, John often joked that it was this event that started the war, but then would go on to strongly deny it. He left school at 17 with no idea what career path to follow and opted for the Land Registry offices in Tunbridge Wells. He soon found prospects were poor and so headed for London joining Maples which was, at the time, a highly prestigious furniture business.

During this period John met Amelia and the couple married and set up home in Romford where a son was born. After moving to Pembury near Tunbridge Wells, a daughter was born and John was forced to play midwife. Due to the delay in the nurse arriving he actually delivered the baby himself.

Spells at Prudential Insurance and then the Metropolitan Water Board precluded a move in 1965 to the Corporation of London, where John worked for four years. His position brought him into contact with Douglas Noakes, a well-known stalwart of the UK meat industry. Later, in 1969, Douglas was looking for a Principal Clerk who would report to him at Smithfield Market where he was superintendent. In those days Smithfield was still a bustling hub of meat trading in the UK and John took up the new opportunity with alacrity. Effectively, at the time, John became number two within a major trading centre at the tender age of 33.

Another four years passed quickly and John was involved in a wide range of activities which added great experience and value to his CV. It was in 1973 that he applied for the advertised vacancy as General Secretary (as the job was then called) of the National Federation of Meat Traders Association (today known as the National Federation of Meat & Food Traders – NFMFT).

Taking over from Ken Forder, John was quickly thrown into the deep end and his agenda was, to say the least, a full one. Back then the MLC had not long been established and the Federation was strongly opposed to it becoming a marketing board which it thought might be to the detriment of the retail butcher. At that time the independent retail butcher held a very dominant position in retail and the sector was responsible for around 75% of retail meat sales.

John skilfully steered the Federation ship, which at the time had a very strong membership still well above 10,000 and faced such challenges as the flow of new legislation and rules following on from the UK joining the EEC (now the EU) and the impact on trading across the new single market. One problem was the changing relationship with the New Zealand Meat Board, then a major supplier to the retail sector and the problem of seasonality and supply of the British product to butchers as a viable alternative for consumers. The introduction of the CAP and metrication had to be dealt with, and then the thorny issue of Sunday trading took up John’s efforts plus the fallout from BSE, which added many pressures.

Over time, despite these events and the growing issues that came about as a result, John still actively added to his workload and became linked with various food trade bodies outside of the Federation and was involved with much liaison with The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food – MAFF. (Now DEFRA). It was in May 1994 that John suffered a stroke aged only 55. He lost the use of his leg for a while, but his determination and battling spirit saw him back at work in October of that same year.

John continued to deal with the Federation’s interests until his retirement in 1999 when he was succeeded by Graham Bidston. A most likeable man, John Fuller was a highly regarded figure in the meat industry and will be much missed by his friends and colleagues.

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