Experienced technical consultant to the Australian meat industry (retail & food service), Barry Lloyd says versatility gives successful butchers that extra edge

“A butcher today must be versatile,” says Barry Lloyd who has been a much respected master butcher in the Australian meat industry. “It is mandatory to listen, look & learn. Whatever you do, you have to work at it. That’s the difference between the butchers who make it compared to others who hang around. It’s the hours you put into learning to become a top good butchery. Once you have the knowledge, you can work confidently.”

He continues, “Talk to your customers, read magazines to see what cuts or cooking styles are being promoted. Also watch, listen to and learn from chefs and senior butchers. It takes time but moving forward one step at a time is the way to go.

“Learn how to match the cuts to the various cooking styles – what works and what does not, but overall remember, a butcher who brings professional skills and dedication to the job will be in great demand.”

Changing Trends & Fresh Insights
According to Barry, as consumers become more affluent and educated, they are more demanding. “They know what they want and they have possibly seen something new overseas. If you turn your products into something more − through various cutting styles or value-adding − you will increase sales and probably enhance shopper loyalty. So always try to know all the cuts (both loin and non-loin); French cuts, Asian cuts, Australian cuts, Food Service and Retail cuts. Over the last five years, meat cuts have changed and expanded a lot. The industry is always evolving,learning and improving – just like the Butcher.”

He highlights Butchery has changed over the years in terms of:

  • Merchandising styles
  • Consumer demands
  • Food safety
  • The increase in the number of Supermarkets
  • “Along with the demand for butchers, improvements in the way meat are merchandised means consumer pressure on the supermarkets has passed to the Butchers from supermarket management. Understanding the consequences of what you are doing and why you are doing it will help you develop the perfect method to get great results everytime. Understanding the cost of a cut and how to gauge the optimal quantity of the cut are the two top priorities when your goal is merchandising for profit,” says Barry.

    Young and Versatile
    For young butchers aiming to make their mark, Barry’s advice is “you’ve got to chase success as it doesn’t come looking for you. As a butcher, the only way to do that is through hard work and the following good habits:

    A lot of young people think butchers stand there and cut meat but there is so much more to butchering and working in the Food Industry. Do not rush, get it right and perfect then increase your speed.

  • Develop your knife skills
  • Buy a little note pad to write it all down. Document everything in detail – a sharp knife with passion and attention to detail will help you make it. Constantly work on your knife skills, improve your cutting and merchandising (in a practical sense) know-how along with learning how each cut can be cooked and utilised.

  • Watch, look and learn from the best
  • Model yourself after the best. The standard of cutting and trimming all cuts of meat will make the difference between an impulse sale or no sale at all.

  • Be versatile
  • Remember the market is there for us to bring the product to it. Meat is not a commodity any more − it is about Food.

  • Don’t give up
  • There are so many doors to be opened, you should not be afraid to look behind them.

    In conclusion, Barry says “you have chosen a dynamic industry where you will meet a lot of interesting people and learn both life and professional skills along the way. I wish all young butchers well.”