A CAMPAIGN to promote British meat has launched a seasonal initiative to encourage customers to support their butchers for life and not just for Christmas.

John Penny, Yorkshire farmer and meat wholesaler, who has launched the Meat Crusade, said: “We all flock to the butcher at Christmas because we want the best we can buy for our family. We forget we can buy the best from the local butcher all year round. Visiting a good butcher shouldn’t be a once a year occasion, it should be a once a week routine.

“Butchers need your support now more than ever. If the decline continues, the high street butcher will go the way of the fishmonger — only a handful of shops will remain and the art of butchery will be lost.”

Peter Buck of Hutchinson’s of Ripley, a butcher for 55 years, is backing the campaign. He said: “There’s a perception that shopping at the supermarket is cheaper, but actually in many cases, butcher’s meat is better value as well as considerably better quality.

“We are encouraging shoppers to make a change – it is in their hands to ensure the high street butcher is here for future generations to enjoy.

“Don’t abandon the butcher; make it your New Year’s resolution to support them.”

High street butchers have declined from about 22,000 in the mid 1980s to just 6,553 in 2010, according to Ed Bedington, editor of the Meat Trades Journal.

Mr Penny added: “Consumers have the power to change demand for products but if we don’t step up to do the right thing, very shortly our purchasing choices could contribute to the disappearance of our high street butchers altogether.”