Butchers confident over Christmas supply as orders flood in

Jamie Archer, centre, with Ollie Baxter, left, and Ian Plunkett, at Archer's Butchers, after they wo

The team at Archers butchers. - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2018

Butchers in Norfolk say they don’t expect to have any issues with delivering on Christmas orders this year.

Arthur Howell, owner of Arthur Howell Butchers in Wells, said it’s "marvellous" to see his customers again after months of lockdowns and restrictions.

Christmas preparations start early for those in the food preparation industry. Mr Howell said he is busy going out to the farms of north Norfolk, and is “very pleased” with what suppliers are able to offer.

Christmas orders have been flooding in already for Arthur Howell Butchers, at a number that is “well above last year’s orders".

The butcher doesn’t anticipate any shortages interfering with business.

Mr Howell’s shop is located on Staithe Street the town, and is within a 10km temporary control zone put in place by the government after an outbreak of bird flu was identified in the area on November 22.

It was detected in a "very small" flock of pet chickens and turkeys at a residential property on the Holkham estate near Wells.

However, Mr Howell was positive that his customers would remain unaffected.

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Elsewhere, business for Archers butchers, on Plumstead Road in Norwich, is going very well - owner Jamie Archer said it has already had around 600 orders placed for collection around December 25.

For his team of 23, it’s all hands on deck from September onwards.

Mr Archer said: “We had over 1,000 orders last year, but I don’t expect we’ll take as many as that. Last year we sold a lot of smaller turkeys and joints of beef. This year, people are allowed larger groups, so I think we’ll sell heavier joints to fewer people.”

Christmas dinner. Picture: Matthew Usher

Christmas dinner. Picture: Matthew Usher - Credit: Matthew Usher

He also noted that more people are buying pre-prepared meals and dishes, in particular pre-made braised red cabbage, because “people prefer the convenience".

Mr Archer has faced some shortages recently, but says they’re all very niche products.

“Certain things that we can’t get are the labour intensive things - anything that requires manual labour on a factory line in an abattoir," he said. "For example, chicken liver or quail.”

Despite these setbacks, the butchers share a sense of optimism. Mr Archer said he has no concerns over supply issues this year.

“We are having to cap our orders when we reach the same amount as we had last year, just in case there is any shortage, but I’ve had no indication from my suppliers that that will be the case.”

Mr Howell said that lockdown was a “very difficult time”.

Butcher Arthur Howell has received and award for his butchers and Deli in Wells. Picture: Matthew Us

Arthur Howell.

“Now, everybody is out there, and they really want to celebrate Christmas. Let’s hope we get a little flurry of snow, too.”

Mr Archer enjoys the effect that social distancing has had on the flow of the shop. Before lockdown, customers were “rammed in” to the shop and grabbing things off shelves in a “frenzy”.

Now, the atmosphere is much less stressful.

“People order in advance, we prepare it, and then they leave," he said. "There’s not as much impulse buying.”

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