Local food is the latest buzzword in business as we start to take our carbon footprint seriously and belatedly realise we should have used those high street butchers and greengrocers while we still had them.
Chris Ray, for one, is keen to expand his offering at Pound Road Stores in Bristol with fresh meat.
"This needs controlled atmosphere packing," he writes, "which helps lengthen the shelf life and maintain the colour, which apparently few suppliers can offer. I have been buying from a meat supplier in Shepton Mallet who is very good, but his meat is top quality with prices to match and sales aren't good.
"Booker can't help, other retailers don't know," he adds. "I go into Tesco and it is stacked out with it. So it's available but who can supply independents?"
Via sister paper Meat Trades Journal, I contacted Sealed Cryovac, which explained it only supplied chains with containers in which to put their fresh meat.
Then I found Kepak, in Preston, Lancashire, which supplies Budgens and Morrisons. Kepak offered to talk to Chris but didn't think his order would be large enough.
Incidentally, Budgens has its own fresh meat cutting plant where British-sourced meat 'primals' are cut and packed before being distributed to stores. I am told that stores can order as little as they like.
Two interesting points emerged from my research. One is that Londis, the sister chain to Budgens, has just started to add fresh-packed meat to its 'menu', to go
with its fresh-packed fruit & veg range.
Second, Booker is trialling a project in Kent to sell more local food in a partnership with Kent County Produce. The Booker trial so far excludes meat, but it all points to a big trend, hopefully coming soon to a supplier
near you.
So Chris is ahead of his time. Meanwhile, if anyone knows of a prepacked meat supplier in the Bristol area, willing to serve indies, please get in touch.