Maurizio Arosio, President of Federcarni, the National Butchers Association belonging to Confcommercio, is convinced. This emerged during an interview with the Eurocarne Press Office in the run-up to the triennial exhibition scheduled at Veronafiere 10-15 May 2015.
President Arosio: Eurocarne is the first event dedicated to this sector which has focused on integrating the supply chain. What is the added value of such a precise and innovative choice?
'The dialogue that can be set in motion, because it is only through a shared project that meat in Italy will achieve a future capable of ensuring profitability for all segments in the field. Eurocarne, with this new and expanded formula, is clearly an ideal opportunity for comparisons. Our members, on the strength as mentioned of a network of 28,000 outlets, are willing to lend a hand to livestock farming to achieve a common and shared path.'
Butchers today are increasingly craftsman-specialists in meat. What is the added value they can provide consumers?
'Quality and the possibility of choosing directly from the best breeding centres. We cannot compete with outlets inside the large-scale retail trade, which has prices and products of a very different kind. We must find leverage from the direct relationship that can be established with producers, especially small ones.'
What is the role of catering-butcheries in Italy?
'There are no official figures, so it is impossible to be specific. But it is a growing trend and there are already many such operators. Especially in southern Italy.'
More in the cities or in small towns?
'I would say that the best opportunities are to be found in small towns and small-medium cities, while large cities particularly highlight structural limitations. Expansion becomes difficult and costly and it is not always possible to have an area for catering or tastings in just a few square meters. In any case, there has been a quite evident evolution in recent years associated with sales of cooked meats, such as gastronomy-butchers.'
Today, even large-scale retail distribution has realised that figures such as butchers are not out of place in the hypermarket system. What advice would you give to a butcher working in such a retail context?
'We must make certain distinctions. One often talks of Meat Departments in large-scale retail distribution but there is generally no actual over or behind the counter work. In this case everything is prepared and packaged upstream by central operation centres and large-scale retail distribution and applies only a margin to a box of already packaged meat. Butchers' shops opened within the framework of medium-scale are another question and closer to our own world. But even in this case I have no advice to give.'
What would be needed to complete the professional training of butchers?
'Unfortunately, there is a lack of professional courses. We were unable to develop them, partly because of to the fact that the work of butchers lacks appeal, is not in the Masterchef spotlight and is viewed as a rather old-fashioned occupation. This is not the case and there are plenty of job opportunities as butchers-entrepreneurs or employees.'
So, schools seem to fall short in this area?
'We have a private professional course in Padua, with about 20 students every year, while the hotel school prefers to focus on specialist figures such as chefs, waiters and pizza-chefs. I am convinced that even butchers may find their own space. Federcarni is willing to organise courses and provide our on-site lessons for butchers.'
What does the new generation need in your opinion?
'Passion and viewing butchers with a different image.'
How have the tastes of Italians changed in recent years and what will future consumer trends be like?
'Tastes have evolved, in my opinion, and there is less stereotyping as regards meat. The truth today is that everyone watches the chefs on television but go into the kitchen themselves less and less often. The trend towards eating less red meat and more chicken has become consolidated by now. Yet I would like to point out that meat has changed over the past 10-15 and now has much less fat, yet it is difficult to eliminate outdated concepts.'
What changes has the multi-ethnic society introduced in butchery?
'In actual fact, none at all. Traditional butchers shops are not used by foreigners, who have their own, very closed supply channels. In Milan, for example, there are more than 100 Islamic butchers, while Chinese buy chicken elsewhere at very low prices.'
Source: Press Service Eurocarne-Veronafiere