A mission to stem the flow of independent butchers from the industry in the face of supermarket dominance has begun in Australia.
In Queensland alone, the sector has seen butcher numbers drop from 960 to about 520 in the past decade.
Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) business development officer Glen Burke revealed the figures to about 40 beef producers in Brisbane during a tour of the city and its beef landmarks, including the JBS processing plant at outlying Dinmore, as well as retail and food service outlets and premium steakhouses across the central business district.
The Beyond the Farm Gate tour is part of a series of initiatives MLA is rolling out in a bid to "beef up" profits across the industry.
Spearheads of the campaign will be seven hand-picked butchers from across the country who will act as "ambassadors" to deliver cooking demonstrations and ideas on how to present red meat in a way that attracts more buyers and delivers more value to the retailer.
Nambour butcher Artie Vella, who gained noteriety on the television cooking show My Kitchen Rules, is one of the red meat ambassadors, and took beef producers through his steps to successful red meat retailing at the Black Pearl Cooking School in Brisbane's Fortitude Valley.
Mr. Vella is the owner of Nambour Plaza Meats, literally a stone's throw from Woolworths in a busy Sunshine Coast shopping complex. About 10 years ago, Mr Vella had a small butcher shop before being told to either "get big or get out" if he was going to compete with the soon-to-arrive supermarket giant on his doorstep.
Mr. Vella took the first approach and hasn't looked back, even though it has meant major changes to the way he does business. He says that within his shop he has 20 meters of display window with at least 11 of those meters occupied by value-added meat meals tailored to different customer demands, from convenience meals for time-stretched parents to fun creations to inspire children to eat meat.
Other tactics he employs include writing the cooking times on the items he sells.
Source: Meat & Livestock Australia