Boomtime for the butcher

Yorkshire Life|June 2020

Boomtime for the butcher
Hungry households are falling in love with meat as the cookbooks come out once again
Kathryn Armstrong

At Hutchinson Hobbs farm shop near Yarm, butcher Barry Hutchinson is lucky to get as much as a bacon butty to eat during the day. His five-strong team in the shop’s butchery has never been as busy, and demand doesn’t look to be waning.

Barry is working on plans for the shop’s expansion alongside a business that has rocketed at the family farm shop since lockdown, so much so that he has taken on a further four members of staff to deal with a trade that has more than doubled in the past two months.

‘In what I call ‘panic week’ when the lockdown was announced, we had 2,500 customers compared with an average of 1100 a week,’ he says. Since then it has leveled to 1600-1800 customers.

‘We are in the shop at about 6.30 am and doing 11–12 hour days, then sometimes until 9 pm or 10 pm at night. We haven’t seen what I would call panic buying, rather, people buying for others while they are here.

‘Meat sales have more than doubled and people are spending 50–60 per cent more.’ he says.

Lockdown changed the landscape and saw a rush back to the meat counter

He believes customers are buying into the provenance of their supplies and feel more secure in the shopping environment.

‘Customers are realizing that our shelves never ran dry. We can make mince many times a day to cope with demand. Also, we are the processor and distributor – therefore cutting out two of the processes a supermarket has, so our meat is far fresher. We have eggs delivered every other day that are laid that day compared to two or three weeks old in a supermarket.

‘We’ve got a very local supply network that we can call upon. 71 of our suppliers are within 40 miles and 100 within 50 miles. That means we can re-supply our shelves within a day.’

Barry, who works alongside his wife and parents in the family business, thinks lockdown has made a real difference to how families eat.

‘People have more time, obviously. That is great for young families where kids can be taught how to cook from scratch and also for millennials who have to organize meal planning.’

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June 2020