Back to school . . . and the countdown to Christmas begins!

By Simon Badley, managing director

It feels like we’ve entered a new phase of this very strange year, don’t you think?

The kids are back at school, and despite the Government’s ongoing concerns over the lingering spread of Covid-19, more of us have now returned to the office.

One of the consequences of this is that many people don’t have quite as much time on their hands now to rustle up a meal from scratch.

Don't worry . . . we've been steadily growing our range of classic ready meals, which could be just what you need right now.

Our butcher’s ready-to-cook range includes some family favourites like Hunters Chicken, Sweet and Sour Chicken, Sticky Maple Pork Steaks, Black Bean Beef . . . and more.

Check out the mouth-watering choices here

Looking further ahead, there’s now little more than three months to go until Christmas. Yes, really!

Health secretary Matt Hancock is warning that festivities may have to be cancelled if the threat of a second spike in coronavirus isn’t taken seriously.

To quote Alan Rickman’s famous Sheriff of Nottingham, we’re not quite into the realms of ‘call off Christmas’ yet, though.

And whatever the state of lockdown when December rolls in, you can be sure of one thing – families are still going to want something extra special on their table for the big day.

The run-up to Christmas is the most important trading time of the year for us, and even though there are so many unknowns in the world right now, we are gearing up for another busy period.

Even before Covid-19 struck, we were already seeing a change in eating habits at big family times like Christmas, and the circumstances we’ve found ourselves in over the past few months will probably have accelerated this trend.

Last year, our overall Christmas meat sales were up around 5% as more people turned to their local butcher – something we never take for granted, and for which we’re always very grateful.

But when you break down those figures in a bit more detail, it makes for interesting reading and reveals some thought-provoking trends.

Orders for whole turkeys plunged by around 60%, for example, with families instead choosing to buy a rolled turkey breast or crown instead.

It’s clear that fewer people are sitting down to carve the traditional full turkey at the table these days, preferring instead an easier, and less time-consuming option.

That’s why rolled turkey, and other less traditional Christmas Day meats like beef joints, saw a sharp rise in sales. I have a feeling this is going to be a common trend in years to come.

We’ve also recognised another shift in modern-day lifestyle which has been seeing many more people eating Christmas dinner alone, so it’s important that they can still buy the same quality meats in single-sized portions.

This year, given everything we’ve been through in 2020 and our dramatically differing attitudes to risk, I have a feeling that a wider than ever choice of portion size, and range of festive produce, is going to be on the menu.