Britain gets its birds ready for the holidays
Since its founding over 800 years ago,
historic wholesale meat market, has determined the prices of meat and poultry in
It is among the largest markets of its kind in
Europe and certainlyBritain's
biggest meat market. To meet demand, the market opens its doors for the last
weekend before Christmas, sometimes the last two weekends depending on which
day of the week it falls on. While turkey remains the biggest seller, goose may
well be served up on many a dinner plate this Christmas.
It is impossible
to predict just how much poultry will be sold in the days before Christmas, or
the amount of money the wholesalers will make. Each year, Smithfield sells around 120,000 mt of meat, 8 % of the meat
sold in Britain, coning from
as far as Australia, New Zealand, South America and Africa. However, European Union regulations have
constrained many butchers to concentrate on European and British producers. To bring
itself in line with EU rules,
underwent a 70-million-pound (US$140
million, EUR100 million) refit, notably installing refrigerated rooms.
Smithfield veterans say the market lost some of its character along the way,
with all meat on display the customer now wrapped in plastic, with carcasses
hanging on hooks in the cold rooms at the back.
restauranteurs browse the stands amid the commotion, negotiating prices in the
three giant halls. As there are no fixed prices, everything is down to
negotiations between the wholesaler and the customer. According to the salesmen,
prices are between 20 and 50 % lower than in the shops.
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