OVER THE past couple of weeks, Scottish butchers have been in overdrive, as they rally to meet the increased demands on their services, as the general public return to their local meat counters amid the Covid-19 outbreak.

The middle of March saw the celebration of National Butchers Week, which served as a timely reminder of the role butchers play at the heart of local communities.

Executive Manager of Scottish Craft butchers Gordon King explained: “Butchery is probably one of the oldest traditional skills in the world, but it is a skill which has adapted to the changing needs of society.

“It has become a theatre in terms of presentation,” he continued. “People buy with their eyes so there is an effort within the craft to produce more appealing, colourful and innovative displays which will draw people’s attention.

“National Butchers Week was a reminder to people that at the meat counter, our butchers are there to answer a customer’s questions and explain the process behind their meat – you can’t have those conversations with supermarket shelves,” he stressed.

There was an increase in social media presence over the week to ensure crucial messages were delivered to the public, informing people of the high quality produce available in Scotland and the experienced and skilled individuals who are working within the butchery trade to deliver on quality and provenance in the local community.

“People trust their butchers,” Mr King continued, “and in times of adversity people default back to what they know and feel safe with. We have always been here as the foundation of local communities for years; it is just really important to remind people of the continual role we play in society.”

Now more than ever, butchers have been under pressure to meet mounting demands from consumers as people hurry to secure food supplies during the Coronavirus outbreak, but Mr King urged the public to continue to support their local butcher once the crisis is over.

“One of the biggest frustrations we face as butchers is that we are trusted with the most important meal of the year – Christmas dinner – but as the festive period draws to a close, many consumers revert back to supermarkets to buy their meat.

“It is often the family tradition to all visit the local butcher at Christmas, but we would like to see this continue throughout the year.”

During the horse meat scandal in 2013 – where some supermarket chains were found to be selling ready meal products which contained horse meat – the public similarly flocked to their local butchers to source meat they could trust.

Mr King commented: “We would hope in this current situation, people will remember who was there for them when they needed them. Familiarity is very important and often it goes back generations in the family visiting the same local butcher.

“Currently we are seeing increased demand for mince and stew as people revert back to the comfort of family staple dishes. Hopefully this is the start of a new relationship with high quality, local, comforting food and during this difficult time we have an opportunity to remind people that they are supporting business in locality, not just buying food,” he concluded.