National Butchers’ Week 2021: Where can I order local meat in Suffolk?
- Credit: Archant
Now in its 14th year, National Butchers’ Week is back. Following on from a year of lockdown-related uncertainty, a handful of Suffolk butchers explain why the local meat trade is so important to not just them, but to their customers and wider community as a whole.
So, just how has business been for Suffolk butchers over the past 12 months?
“From day one of lockdown, it’s gone from strength to strength,” explains James Doyle, one of the head butchers at Hollow Trees Farm in Ipswich.
“Every year it gets busier - but it’s been such an extreme year that it’s probably 50% on top of what we’d normally do in a year. It’s been absolutely crazy. When lockdown first happened, because the shelves were cleared in most of the supermarkets, people would come to their local butchers. By coming to our smaller shop, there’s less people coming here so customers felt safer.”
But lockdown and social distancing aside, what else is it that brings people back to their local butchers in lieu of supermarkets?
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Ultimately, it’s the quality of meat on offer.
“We’ve found that people have come back to small independent butchers like ourselves after discovering what real meat tastes like,” explains George Debman of Debman Butchers. “There are lots of people who now come to me, saying they’ve never tasted meat like it.”
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His Ipswich-based butchers has a strong emphasis on local livestock and traditional meat cuts – setting him apart from his supermarket counterparts.
“People have found with us that we have traceability, right the way back through to the farm, as I buy my own livestock. The beef I bought this week comes from a guy whose farm is just outside of Colchester, and the other bull I bought came from a farm just over in Norfolk, so it’s all local to East Anglia. Customers have also found that since coming to us, they can get all of the traditional cuts that supermarkets often don’t offer, such as skirt.”
A number of local butchers pride themselves on not just being local, but hyperlocal, thanks to rearing their own livestock on site, cutting down on even more food miles.
Ben Woolf, of Oak House Farm in Sproughton, attributes the recent boom that local butchers are seeing to people becoming more ethically inclined when it comes to their food choices.
“If the pandemic has been good for something, it’s local business. We’ve had a really busy period from last March, and there’s definitely been an increased interest in where people’s food is coming from. At the beginning of lockdown, people had the time to do their research, and knowing where their food came from became so much more important. All of our pork and beef are grown right here on the farm, so it’s metres away from where the shop is. I think this idea of knowing where your food has come from, combined with the lack of food miles, is very interesting for consumers these days.”
The farm and butchers, which specialises in a number of rare breeds including Red Poll cattle and Gloucester Old Spot pigs, also makes its own animal feed - something that gives customers taste consistency that they may not find with their local supermarket. “If you buy meat from us one week, and you like it, you’re going to get something similar the next week,” he adds.
Alongside ethics and sustainability, lockdown has also seen consumers become more adventurous with their meat and overall food choices. Local butchers are honing in on this by offering customers a whole host of new and exciting dishes that can be purchased alongside typical butcher cuts – something people might not have expected to find in their local butchers over a year ago.
James Doyle and Anthony Gellard of Hollow Trees pride themselves on their range of ready meals, alongside their experimental sausage flavours that keep customers coming back time and time again.
“We do around 30 to 40 different meal solutions, such as parmesan crumb pork cutlets and sticky plum ginger lamb shoulder. You just unwrap them, pop them in the oven and all of the hard work is done for you,” says James.
“In terms of sausages, we offer a number of different varieties, including a curried goat sausage which is quite popular, and a pork ploughman’s which is pickled gherkin and cheddar cheese,” adds Anthony. “We like to go on Instagram to see what’s trending – it's all about picking up ideas to help keep things fresh for our customers.”
As well as giving people new and exciting options, butchers are finding that going the extra mile for customers is a sure-fire way to keep them coming back time after time.
Someone who can lay claim to that is Gary Feller, butcher at Suffolk Food Hall. “We’re not only affordable, we provide our customers with a good service, and a knowledge of the butchery trade. If we haven’t got something in, we’ll take their phone number and give them a ring when we do - and we find our customers really appreciate that," he says.
But with lockdown set to slowly lift over the upcoming months, are butchers feeling optimistic that this steady, newfound flow of customers will continue - or will people slowly return to the supermarket?
“We’re hoping customers keep coming back to us,” says Jeremy Thickitt, director of Bramfield Meats. “It’s such a traditional type of business that sadly through the years has been disappearing.”
“It’s really important that people continue to shop locally, as it helps keep the money in the local economy here in Suffolk,” adds James Welham of Hollingsworth Butchers.
“Anyone that shops at their local butchers is helping to support not just the business itself, but the family behind it. We live locally, and our children go to the local schools, and it’s all about helping keep money in the local economy.”
Where can I order local meat in Suffolk?
Debman Butchers, Ipswich
Open Tuesday to Saturday, this Ipswich butchers has a number of deals, including 3lbs of sausages for £5 and a Mother’s Day roast which features a family-sized chicken, pigs in blankets and stuffing balls for £8.95. To find out opening times or to place an order for collection, call 01473 251686.
Oak House Farm and Butchery, Sproughton
This farm’s on-site butchery is open Wednesday between 9am and 3pm, Friday between 9am and 5pm and Saturday 10am to 4pm. It sells a range of pork, beef, poultry and ready meals and pies. To find out more or to place an order for collection, call 07768 088095. Delivery is also available for anyone living within six miles of the farm.
Suffolk Food Hall, Ipswich
Suffolk Food Hall’s butchery is open Monday to Saturday between 9am and 5.30pm, and on Sundays between 10am and 4pm. Home delivery and click and collect are also available. Orders can be placed online, or by calling 01473 786 613.
Hollow Trees Farm, Semer
Hollow Trees Farm’s butchers is open Monday to Saturday between 8.30am and 5.30pm, and on Sundays between 9am and 4.30pm. As well as standard meat cuts, customers can order meal packs and ready meals via click and collect or by visiting the on-site butchers. To find out more, call 01449 741247.
Hollingsworths Store & Butchers, Chelmondiston
This butchers just outside of Ipswich sells a range of fresh meats and cuts, including its Monday meat box which is contains a variety of sausages, bacon, 1.4kg of chicken, pork and beef steaks and beef mince for £24.75. Free delivery is available around the Shotley Peninsula. Alternatively, click and collect is also available. To find out more, call 01473 780225.
Bramfield Meats, Halesworth
Alongside its butchery for fresh meat, Bramfield Meats also offers a variety of cured and smoked meats including hams, gammons, silverside, salt beef, ox tongue, pancetta and other delicacies. To place an order or to find out more, call 01986 784222.
Swiss Farm, Ashbocking
Located near Ipswich, this family-run butchers is open seven days a week and has a number of deals on, including smoked gammon for £20, 500g of streaky bacon for £3 and 20 traditional sausages for £4.99. To place find out more, call 01473 785520.