Local sourcing and traceability are ever more important for modern consumers. In a recent survey, 59% of shoppers said the origin of their food was at least as important as factors such as price.
Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) has been helping to reinforce the local credentials of Welsh-reared lamb, beef and pork by visiting butcher shops which are part of its Welsh Lamb and Welsh Beef Butchers’ Club, listening to the views of experts with decades of experience of the meat trade on the high street, and offering advice on how to ensure that robust standards of traceability are maintained right across the supply chain.
Responsibility for the legal enforcement of food origin labelling at retail lies with Trading Standards Officers employed by local authorities. However HCC also has a role as the guardian of the Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status for Welsh Lamb and Welsh Beef – a prized European accolade which reassures consumers that the food can be traced all the way from farm to fork.
HCC’s butchers’ club gives marketing and promotional support and seasonal recipe leaflets to members who are committed to sourcing PGI Welsh Lamb or PGI Welsh Beef.
“It has been a pleasure to start our 2018 series of visits to independent retailers, and speak to passionate artisan butchers who have such knowledge and passion for their work,” said HCC’s Market Development Officer Kirstie Jones.
“It’s important that we get out and about, both to listen to what butchers want in terms of marketing, and also to support the efforts of local Trading Standards Officers in reassuring customers that they can be sure that food is exactly what it says on the label,” she added. “We’ll be continuing our programme of high street visits throughout the year.”
“PGI Welsh Beef and PGI Welsh Lamb have excellent standards of traceability,” explained Kirstie. “Many of Wales’s independent butchers have personal knowledge of the farms where the meat comes from, as well as being able to provide expert advice on how to prepare and cook it.”
According to award-winning butcher Mark McArdle of Chirk, customers are increasingly aware of where their meat comes from.
“We have noticed a big change in the last few years in how people’s interest in local goods has increased,” he said. “These days people are even asking questions about the breed of the animal not just where it was reared. It’s not just local customers either. People who are visiting the area have a big interest in taking some locally-sourced Welsh Lamb and Beef home with them.”
Mark added, “Being situated in Wales we insist on selling only PGI Welsh Lamb and PGI Welsh Beef which we source from local farms and this gives us a great sense of pride in being able to tell customers exactly where the animal was reared.”
One business which emphasises the local credentials of its produce is family butchers Hugh Phillips of Swansea, now owned by fifth generation butcher Catherine Butler.
“With such a rich heritage I am determined to celebrate the traditions and conventions which have been a part of this business for generations,” said Catherine. “All our lamb and beef are PGI Welsh, and I’m proudto continue the family tradition of producing top quality, fully traceable meat. Saltmarsh Lamb from the Gower peninsula is certainly one of my and our customers’ favourites.”