The search is on for New Zealand’s next top retail butchers

Retail butcher Alto Butcher of the Year
Elliot McLaren-Brown, Peter Timbs Meats in Christchurch working away at the last Alto Butcher of the Year competition.

Entries have opened for the Alto Butcher of the Year and ANZCO Foods Butcher Apprentice of the Year competitions. A firm favourite on the industry calendar, this event challenges qualified retail butchers and butcher apprentices from all around our fine nation, to sharpen their knives and compete head-to-head in a battle of meaty proportions.

The competition commences with regional heats taking place in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin. Contestants put their boning, trimming, slicing and dicing skills to the test as they prepare and display a size 16 chicken, a boneless beef rump and a full pork loin, with the top scoring butcher and butcher apprentice from each regional, progressing to the Grand Final. An additional two top scoring butchers and butcher apprentices will be selected, nationally, based on their regional scores to produce twelve finalists in total – six in each category.

The Grand Final, held in Auckland on 8 August, combines a glitzy black-tie event with something usually found behind the counter – and really highlights the high standard of craft and skill butchers have. Also, in a competition first, entrants who have previously won can put their pride on the line and enter the 2019 competition, challenging themselves to take out a second title.

The competition shines light on the work these skilled men and women do day in and day out to prepare the meat that graces dinner (lunch and even breakfast) plates each week. The competition is also a potential stepping stone to a place in our national butchery team, the Sharp Blacks, who compete biennially in the World Butchers’ Challenge – the Olympics of butchery.

Head Judge, and current Sharp Blacks captain Corey Winder, says the competition provides an excellent opportunity for contestants, young and old, to cement their place in the industry.

“The competition provides a platform for butchers to display their ability. It gives them something to strive for and challenges them to continually improve their skills. Ultimately, it plays a big part in lifting the industry standard, which in turn is better for Kiwis who end up with more innovative and creative products to put in the trolley,” says Winder.

Alongside industry and peer recognition, the winning Alto Butcher and ANZCO Foods Butcher Apprentice will receive a fully paid ticket to the World Butchers’ Challenge study tour in Sacramento, as well as the opportunity to compete in the World Champion Butcher Apprentice and Young Butcher competitions, representing their country, competing against their peers from around the globe.

Last year’s ANZCO Foods Butcher Apprentice of the Year winner, Corey White from Countdown Meat & Seafood, was a last-minute replacement for another competitor, proving that raw skill, coupled with an excellent mentor can make all the difference.

“I was stoked to win last year, especially with so little time to prepare. Since the win, my butchery has gone from strength to strength. I can’t believe I will have the opportunity to take on the world next year in Sacramento, something I never thought possible. Bring it on.”

Entries to both competitions close on Friday 24 May, 2019.

The dates for the regionals are as follows:

  • Upper North Island – 15 & 16 June 2019
  • Lower North Island – 21 June 2019
  • Lower South Island – 28 June 2019
  • Upper South Island – 29 June 2019

The competition is proudly sponsored by Alto Packaging, ANZCO Foods, Wilson Hellaby, Alliance Group, Beef + Lamb New Zealand Inc, Competenz, Dunninghams and Hellers.

For any retail butcher or butcher apprentice keen to take part are encouraged to head to for more information.

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