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Graham hangs up his butchers apron after a lifetimes work

Apr 3 2012

A long-serving character in the Welsh meat industry is hanging up his apron after 43 years.

Graham Titchener has spent a lifetime working in the industry, the last 26 years with red meat promotion agency Hybu Cig Cymru and before that its predecessor, the Meat and Livestock Commission.

During his working life he has helped spearhead efforts to promote Welsh Lamb and Welsh Beef across the world - with particular emphasis on the Middle and Far East - helping to open up new markets in the United Arab Emirates and Hong Kong in the process.

As a former butcher himself he has also worked closely with independent butchers across Wales, helping to devise promotional materials including recipe booklets and posters to drive up sales.

Graham, who lives in Cimla near Neath with his wife Deirdre said: I have thoroughly enjoyed my time working in the industry. It has been good to me and I am grateful for it.

A lot has changed in the years since I started out. I feel particularly saddened by the decline in the number of independent butchers over the years, but that is due mainly to changing consumer habits with more and more people eating out or buying ready-made meals instead of cooking from fresh.

Things are changing once again, however, with celebrity chefs extolling the virtues of home cooking, encouraging people to choose fresh meat and develop their culinary skills. HCC has tried to help as much as possible by producing glossy recipe booklets and posters for distribution by butchers and producing consumer guides on how to buy and cook red meat, encouraging consumers to buy fresh.

I strongly believe that the Welsh red meat industry has a positive future because Welsh Lamb and Welsh Beef are excellent products in their own right.

But on top of that, Welsh processors and individual butchers have shown that they can innovate by combining Welsh Lamb and Welsh Beef with other foods to create everything from convenience foods like pies and sausages to providing new cuts to make the home cooking experience easier.

Gwyn Howells, HCC's Chief Executive, said: I am sure that everyone in the industry wishes Graham well in his retirement. He has worked tirelessly to ensure that the industry adapts to the ever changing demands of consumers.

Ieuan Edwards, of award winning butchers Edwards of Conwy and a former Wales the True Taste Food Ambassador said it had been a privilege to work with Graham over the years.

Graham is a consummate professional and has a complete understanding of the industry, he said. It is very rare to find someone with the breadth of knowledge that he has but can also walk the talk and is just as comfortable behind a cutting table as he is behind a desk. He will be sorely missed by all within the Welsh red meat industry.

Following years in the butchery trade, Graham joined the Meat and Livestock Commission (MLC) in 1986 as a Trade Liaison Officer, helping independent retailers work closer together.

During his time with MLC he helped to introduce a number of services for independent retailers that aimed to help make the trade more profitable.

He was also among the first in the industry to be trained to instruct others in food hygiene after new Government legislation was introduced.

Graham joined the newly formed Aberystwyth-based HCC in 2003. While at HCC, he continued to work with independent retailers and set up the annual Product Evaluation Awards which recognised butchers for their creativity.

His role at HCC continued to evolve and he became instrumental in promoting Welsh Lamb and Welsh Beef to countries inside the EU, particularly Spain, and further afield including Hong Kong and the United Arab Emirates.

Although Graham is retiring, he isn't leaving the industry altogether because he will continue to offer a quality assurance programme for the red meat sector in the NHS in Wales.

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