It may be 148 days until one of the meat industry’s biggest events gets under way, but, with a new year on the horizon, IFFA and the German Butchers’ Association (GBA) have teamed up to outline the key themes likely to dominate butchery business in 2016.
“Many of the trends that are presented here will most definitely gain in importance for the butchery trade in the future”, Heinz-Werner Süss, president of the GBA, said.
The themes listed include the importance of quality craftsmanship, coupled with a surge in vegan produce and the use of innovative strategies to optimise energy efficiency in the sector.
Customers want locally-sourced meat and are taking a stand against globalisation: they want meat that has been raised locally, meat that has travelled the smallest possible distance from gate to plate. But it’s not just a low-mileage meal they are after; quality meat remains the hallmark of any artisan butcher and remains integral to the demand for a transparent economic cycle. Customers want to see highly-skilled artisan butchers incorporating regional materials in their production process, or by serving prime cuts of meat from specific herds, reared using specialist farming methods – thus demonstrating the butcher’s knowledge and technical quality.
Ironically, vegetarian – and in some rare cases – vegan produce has become sought-after in local butchery shops, and offering meat-free products will help independent shops compete with supermarkets. Convenience remains key for butchery moving into 2016, too. There will be a rise in polystyrene packaging that retains heat and is also suitable for microwave use. Ready-to-eat nibbles that can be eaten in the shop or walking down the street will also prove successful.
The preparation and storage of sausage products, in addition to cooling, lighting and the use of temperature-regulated storerooms, means power prices are a real concern for small butchery businesses. But, in a beautiful demonstration of egalitarianism and cooperation, butchers from the same guilds will increasingly use energy storage methods. Thus, by collectively purchasing electricity for a lower price, they will expend less money on electricity. Other diversifications in power procurement include the use of cogeneration units and renewable energy.
Artisan butchers can score points against supermarkets by demonstrating their greater respect for the animals they slaughter, claim IFFA’s organisers. It is vital consumers know animals have been treated well. The regional origin of meat, low food mileage and slaughter by butchers using humane methods are favoured by meat-eaters. Adhering to these factors can have a positive impact on a customer’s decision to buy meat.
Man vs machine
Butchery suffers from a shortage of young entrants and highly-skilled, artisan butchers, IFFA says. Figures for 2015 show that one in five training positions remain unoccupied. A high number of unfilled vacancies, too, have created a situation that “can only get worse”, according to the GBA. To counter this, companies are investing in modern machinery to streamline the production process. But what does that mean for the human element of butchery?
From factory to shop floor, hygiene requires “constant investment” the GBA says. Staff may require education on the latest regulation and laws regarding hygiene standards, and building improvements and on-site modifications may be needed to ensure hygiene standards remain high.
IFFA runs from 7 to 12 May 2016. It covers the entire chain involved in meat processing GBA president Süss said: “A visit to IFFA is a must, for it is only here that people working in the butchery trade can keep abreast of all the ways in which the whole sector is going to develop over the next few years.”