Industry backs carcass event as British showcase
By Marianne Curtis
TURNING the Smithfield carcass competition into a showcase for British meat attracted widespread support from the meat industry last weekend.
But more must be done to raise the National Festival of Meats profile with the public.
Royal Smithfield Club chief executive, Geoff Burgess, said: "This has been a good event, attracting 300-400 key meat industry personalities. When the carcass competition used to be held at Earls Court it was seen more as a farmer event.
"However, in future we must build on the public dimension of the event; we did not really advertise it to the public. We could attract 2000-3000 more people through London radio and newspaper advertising and by creating more of a Christmas fayre atmosphere."
But Santa Claus, a brass band playing Christmas carols and various celebrities added a lighter note, as the public browsed the recently refurbished markets butchers shops.
The Christmas spirit was also remembered, with comedian Harry Enfield presenting a side of beef to childrens charity Barnardos on behalf of the UK meat industry.
Aside from the celebrity aspect, the traditional carcass competition remained popular. Entries were at a 20-year high with 286 forward.
The move from its old home at the biannual Royal Smithfield Show held in Earls Court to Smithfield Market was initially taken for health and hygiene reasons, said Mr Burgess.
"The authorities have real problems with carcass competitions held away from full abattoir conditions. Smithfield Market provides the ideal location to comply with health and hygiene rules."
Holding the competition after the Earls Court event has also permitted the reintroduction of live/dead classes. "Live/dead competitions stopped in the late 1980s when the duration of the show fell from five to four days, allowing insufficient time for killing and display of carcasses. We had 16 entries in these classes this year which require real judging skill as there can sometimes be a wide difference between how an animal appears on the hoof and how it kills out."
Keen to extend the appeal of carcass competitions, the RSC appointed 10 dedicated abattoirs across the country rather than the usual one. All animals were killed on the Tuesday before the competition and dressed to the same Smithfield specification. First time entrant, Andrew Morton of Lochend Farm, Stirling, won the lamb carcass supreme title with a 19kg Texel-sired animal.
"We have not entered in the past because it was too far to take lambs to the appointed abattoir. But being able to send them to our local abattoir in Stirling made entering much easier," said Mr Morton.
Conformation and evidence of good eating quality make for a prize-winning carcass, agree judges Nobby Bristow (left) and Archie Gess.
• Showcase for British meat.
• Record carcass entries.
• Wider access to competition.
Supreme champion beef carcass J Hopwood and son; res, G and A McFadzean.
Champion heifer carcass G and A McFadzean; res, M * Miller.
Champion steer carcass J Hopwood and son; res, F Murray.
Champion live/dead cattle award D B Sinclair; res, J M and S M Rowlands.
Supreme champion lamb carcass A Morton; res, R and G Colegrave.
Supreme champion pork carcass G E Kirk and son; res, D Tweed.
Supreme champion bacon carcass K and B L Donald and son; res, Worsall Manor Farms.