for Tivy

By Debbie James

Independent butchers in west Wales have seen a spike in trade during the coronavirus lockdown.

Although business dropped in the initial phases of lockdown, fortunes quickly changes for butchers like Dafydd Davies.

“We felt an initial loss of custom from the catering sector with only a small number of these foodservice providers continuing to sell takeaways,” said Mr Davies, of Cigydd Dewi James, which has shops in Cardigan and Newcastle Emlyn.

“But having a really strong team that’s been able to operate a fleet of four vans means we’ve been able respond to changes quickly and serve an increased demand of customers seeking deliveries to their door.”

Figures released by market analyst Kantar Worldpanel show a UK-wide increase in red meat sales for the 12 weeks to May 17.

But the rise in sales through high street butchers has been almost double the national average.

While retail sales of beef increased by 26.9 per cent across Britain compared with the same 12 weeks last year, the trade through independent butchers rose by 49.1 per cent.

Likewise, the average UK pork trade was up 24.2 per cent on year-earlier figures but specialist butchers saw a 48.4 per cent jump in sales.

And although lamb sales were flat through supermarkets – attributed to Easter and Ramadan both falling during lockdown – butchers’ shops saw a 24.9 per cent rise.

The Kantar figures were welcomed by Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC).

HCC market development officer Kirstie Jones said although most meat is still sold at the big retailers, the current crisis had seen people returning to high street butchers’ shops.

About 8.5 per cent of beef and pork, and more than 12 per cent of lamb, was sold by these specialist outlets throughout the UK.

Ms Jones praised butchers for taking an innovative approach to serving the public during the pandemic.

Many butchers had adapted their shops to ensure social distancing was maintained while others had started “click and collect” online ordering and meat delivery services, she explained.

“Customers obviously appreciate how butchers have adapted to the restrictions and served their communities in difficult times.’’