2020-04-14  facebooktwitterrss

Local Supply Chain Working Flat Out to Keep Food on Tables

Skipton Auction Mart continues to play a leading role in ensuring continuity of supply of quality locally produced beef and lamb through its weekly primestock sales, now being staged under strictly controlled and regulated conditions governing both buyers and sellers.

The mart’s general manager Jeremy Eaton stressed: “The live auction system remains vital if we are to continue to meet the needs of our customers – both regional farmer producers and our retail and wholesale butcher buyers.

“Together, we all play a key role in helping to keep shop and supermarket shelves fully stocked by maintaining food supply in a controlled and safe environment, and meeting the all-important and ever-growing needs of the end user – the general public.”

John Spensley

Local farmer John Spensley with some of the prime cattle he and his wife Alison raise on their family farm in Thorlby.

The agricultural and meat trade sectors concur, as both strive to meet spiralling consumer demand. Farmers, ideally, need to sell their prime cattle ‘clean’ at under 30-months-old to meet the requirements of butcher buyers – weekly demand at Skipton remains solid, as does the need for prime lambs, with this season’s Spring lambs now starting to come forward in much greater numbers.

“That is why the live auction system remains so important to us,” explained Charles Kitching, who farms with his brother Richard at Grisedale Farm in Threshfield, They are currently selling prime cattle, primarily recognised Continental-cross meat producers such as Limousin and British Blue, at Skipton on a weekly basis.

“Our prime cattle reach their peak at around 18 to 20-months-old and at 570-600kg, the ideal age and weight for many in the meat trade. We also need to clear our sheds to make way for further replacements, which remain vital to the food chain, particularly in the current climate. It is so important to keep livestock markets open so everyone gets a fair price. Transparency is vital,” said Mr Kitching. The family has sent out many prime cattle champions at their local mart.

Butchers report demand for meat has rocketed, with long queues the order of the day outside most shops in line with current social distancing requirements. To meet this ever-increasing need, supply processes have also been enhanced.

Many butchers are now supplementing their in-shop businesses, some operating on restricted hours, by offering phone-in, online click-and-collect and home delivery services. They say that, with only so many people allowed into their shops at any one time, these bolt-on measures are proving a godsend to local communities, among them key workers, the elderly and others in self-isolation.

“Continuity of supply is vital and that’s why the live auction system remains key to the food chain,” stressed regular Skipton butcher buyer Alan Beecroft, who travels over the border every week to source prime beef for his Countrystyle Meats Farm Shop in Lancaster Leisure Park.

“While our butcher’s shop remains fully operational, there are only so many people we can cater for at any one time. As well as introducing a click-and-collect facility we have also purchased two brand-new vans and are now delivering up to 40 orders a day to customers across an area stretching from Kendal down to Settle, Clitheroe and the Ribble Valley.

“These are hard times for all, but we are coping. We are working flat out seven days a week to meet the needs of our customers and at the same time continuing to support British farmers, notably those on our own doorstep.  In fact, many of our prime cattle sourced through Skipton come from just down the road from the Critchley beef farming family,” said Mr Beecroft.


The Critchleys, who farm in Hutton, near Preston, themselves report soaring demand for the Continental-cross cattle, primarily British Blue and Limousin, that they buy in and further improve on the farm in readiness for the prime market. “We are selling twice as many cattle, both through Skipton Auction Mart and to butchers shops in our own area,” said Tom Critchley.

Tom Critchley

Alan Beecroft, left, of Countrystyle Meats Farm Shop in Lancaster, is pictured with Tom Critchley and one of the many prime cattle champions he has bought from the family at Skipton Auction Mart.

In Accrington, Croppers Family Butchers & Deli is ideally placed to maintain supplies through its own farm in Hellifield, run by the Blackburn Road shop’s Clare Cropper and her partner John Mellin, familiar faces and multiple prize winners with their cattle - supreme champions among them - at Skipton Auction Mart’s high profile annual Christmas primestock shows.

Croppers Family Butchers in Accrington

Croppers Family Butchers in Accrington

The farm supplies only heifers to the shop, predominantly Limousin-cross ideally aged around 18 months, with a liveweight of around 520kg and 320-340kg deadweight. It also tops up with Skipton-bought store cattle to help keep the shop supplied with beef.

“We are selling at least twice as much meat at the moment and our deli is also thriving. In addition, we are offering a call in and collect service. Customers tell us over the phone what they want, we put it all together, then they pull up outside the shop and we place their orders in their car boots. It’s a system that is working very well in the current climate,” explained John.

On the wholesale side, Simon Barker, who runs Barkers Yorkshire Butchers from the fully EC-registered meat production unit at Skipton Auction Mart, continues to source all his beef and lamb through the mart.

He said: “As well as continuing to supply other retail butchers across the region, we have also introduced both click-and-collect and home delivery services. Interest and demand is growing continually.

“Not only are people eating more meat at home, but they are also becoming more aware about what they are eating and increasingly recognising just how important it is to support local farmers, suppliers and other producers.”

A number of other local farmers who are regular customers at Skipton Auction Mart also supply primestock direct to local butcher’s shops, among them John and Alison Spensley, from Thorlby, who have been running a productive gate-to-plate partnership with Drake & Macefield Butchers for the past 15 years, supplying their three retail shops in Skipton, Settle and Cross Hills with both grass-fed prime beef and lamb.

“They continue to take only heifers from us, preferring variety, including Limousin, British Blue, Charolais and Aberdeen-Angus cattle ideally at around 24-months-old with a liveweight of 550kg-580kg. They have doubled their orders for both beef and lamb of late,” explained Mr Spensley.

ccm auctions

Related Links
link Spring Lambs Spring Forth in Greater Numbers at CCM Skipton
link Meat Trade Buyers Again Prominent at Skipton Primestock Ringsides
link Jersey Event a First in the North
link Cracking Cattle Trade at Skipton New Year Sale