The Rugby World Cup is now in full swing and the nation is banding together in hopes that we can use our home advantage to secure a victory. However England didn't just face stiff competition from the other four teams, including Australia in their group. Should England be successful, they will also potentially compete against current world champions New Zealand.
But this isn’t the first time the home nation is has gone head-to-head with their antipodean counterparts. Earlier this month Team GB took on both of these countries in the 2015 Tri-Nations Butchers’ Challenge in a closely-fought contest of skill and innovation, which saw current champions, New Zealand, pipcar our boys to the top spot for a third year.
The victors hosted this year’s tournament, the culmination of a five-day study tour which ended with the contest, held at Shed 10 in Auckland. Following many months of refining their skills, the intense competition was three hours long and saw the three six-man teams turn a side of beef, pork and a whole lamb into value-added cuts to produce a world-class display based around a typically English theme, the much-loved English tea party.
The British Beefeaters, a team of six of the nation’s best butchers, were selected after a nomination process which attracted more than 20 entrants from around the country. All those who applied were invited to the trials, held at the IFE in London back in March. Faced with the tough job of whittling 20 down to just six was no easy task for the expert judges, however soon the best six were selected and the practice began.
Whilst the contest recognises the highest level of talent internationally in the sector, the key messages of the challenge go beyond that. Red meat, like all other food and drinks products, operates in a global market, and whilst each country worries over their own sales figures, growth of the trade and demand for the product internationally will benefit all. Working together and sharing best practice can help achieve this.
With more and more people shopping with their eyes, rather than just their budgets, appearance is key to driving sales increases. Ensuring products are consistency well cut, and presented in innovative ways, is central to creating loyalty amongst shoppers. Sharing new product development (NPD) ideas and butchery skills helps to get these results, and the Tri-Nations acts an ideal platform to make this happen.
With the livestock in all three countries reared to some of the highest international standards, the way in which the carcases are cut and presented must do justice to those who spend their time nurturing and producing them. Good butchery will do just that, as well as ensuring maximum carcaseutilisation.
The beef and lamb sector, in almost all countries, faces scrutiny on a number of topics, from environmental issues, to meat and health claims and welfare matters. These common challenges shows there is real value in working together.
The event is also the perfect vehicle to show the younger generation that a career in the butchery trade is a viable choice. Whilst being a butcher may not be seen as the most glamorous career, the Tri-Nations highlights the technical skills, team work, creativity and precision required making it an interesting and specialist vocation.
The tournament is all about engagement with fellow butchers and consumers of all ages, and this is why social media has played a large part in the competition. The teams have created fun, short insights into their practices and processes for YouTube, bantered with each other on the Facebook page and shared selfie after selfie – each team member even had their own selfie stick!
Whilst Team GB didn’t achieve the ultimate result, this time, their skill and innovation showed they are some of Britain’s ultimate butchers!