Provenance places independent butchers in prime position

Provenance places independent butchers in prime position

According to EBLEX, independent butchers are best placed to capitalise on the public’s new-found love of all things culinary, despite the industry losing a generation through lack of training opportunities.

A report commissioned by EBLEX revealed the outlook for the industry is positive and should continue to grow as consumers become more attuned to local sourcing and provenance, helped through programmes like the Quality Standard Mark (QSM) for beef and lamb.

EBLEX's Mike Whittemore supportive of MEATUP move: "The meat industry does merit its own dedicated event and I am sure it will be a great success in 2015.”

EBLEX’s Mike Whittemore: “…succession planning continues to present a major challenge.”

However, it also highlighted the number of butchers in the UK had decreased from 15,000 in 1990 to around 6,000 today – a fall of 60 per cent. While numbers have stabilised in the last four years amid changing consumer preferences and shopping patterns, challenges such as succession planning in the sector persist.


The report, based on a survey of almost 300 independent butchers and farm shops and a number of in-depth interviews, showed that 90 per cent of respondents said they found it difficult to recruit trained butchers. As a result, it is making succession planning a major challenge if the industry is to continue to flourish. The main reason cited was a lack of young people entering the profession, with some respondents suggesting a reduction in availability of apprenticeships. 57% said a lack of trainees locally was a barrier to recruitment, with 33% identifying a lack of trainees on a national scale.

Mike Whittemore, EBLEX head of trade marketing, said: “The general outlook for the independent sector remains positive. With consumers becoming more aware of issues like traceability and provenance, independent butchers and farm shops are in a strong position to maximise opportunities, supported by assurance schemes like the Quality Standard Mark (QSM) for beef and lamb.

“Our cuts development work to help promote full carcase utilisation also dovetails perfectly with the expert knowledge of butchers who can advise customers on how best to cook with new cuts or those that have become less fashionable. Not only does it add value to the consumer, it adds value to the carcase to the benefit of the entire supply chain.

“It’s clear, however, that succession planning continues to present a major challenge. Poor numbers of young people coming into the profession, with a significant proportion of respondents citing a lack of training schemes, is a concern.

“One respondent went as far as suggesting the lack of an attractive training programme for some time had resulted in the industry losing a generation of highly skilled butchers. As such, the issue continues to present a major challenge in ensuring that independents continue to thrive.

“EBLEX will continue to work with the industry to help ensure independent butchers and farm shops maximise the current opportunities and build on this foundation for the future. This will include the developing of a meat education programme for professionals working with meat which stretches across the supply chain.”

The report is available in the Corporate Publications section of the EBLEX website

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