Butchers feel a turning of the corner may be in the air Independent butchers have welcomed a 1% increase in the household purchase market by this sector, although this has most probably come from the Co-ops and "others" sector rather than the multiples losing sales. Tony Reed, new president of the National Federation of Meat and Food Traders, sees this as showing the public is looking for an alternative to mass produced products in supermarkets. Speaking at the federation's annual conference he said this, together with the "materially enhanced reputation" of the sector following licensing, marked a turning of the corner. "It is essential we continuously look to stay ahead of the game in giving the public that wider choice that they are again demanding," he said. The decline in the number of independent retailers was slowing down, but there was a danger that there could be a shortage of new entrants to the industry with sufficient skills. "That is why the federation's aim is to provide a flexible, butcher-friendly modern apprenticeship scheme that is easy to administer, is self financing and with no contribution required from the member." The decline in local abattoirs was also limiting the revival, particularly in shortening the supply lines between farmers and members. "A closer association with farmers would obviate the necessity for farmers' markets and would enhance the image of the craft butcher," said Reed. {{MEAT }}