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Obituary | Robert (Bob) John Tyler OBE JP FCMI HonFInstM

Past National Federation of Meat Traders President Robert John Tyler passed away suffering ill health age 93 years on Friday 1st February 2019.

Following war service with the Royal Air Force in Egypt and Sudan, Bob returned to the Midland based family business of Frank Tyler Co Ltd taking over control in 1950 owning and operating a meat products factory and retail shops. In 1972 he founded and became Principal of Meat Industry Consultancy Associates establishing a reputation as a meat industry specialist and Law Society Expert Witness in Litigation and was a Member of the Royal Society of Health.

Bob chaired the Birmingham Chamber of Trade from 1969 to 1971 and became a Justice of the Peace serving on the Birmingham bench in 1972 until 1996 and was elected twice as a Councillor on Birmingham City Council serving on the Birmingham City Markets & Fairs Committee in 1970-74 and between 1986-1990. Having sat as a Councillor on West Midlands County Council between 1980-86 and standing for Member of Parliament in Parliamentary elections in 1979 and 1983 and was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for public service in 1988.

Becoming a Freeman of the City of London and Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Butchers in 1962. A year later in 1963 Bob joined the Council of the Institute of Meat (IoM) becoming an Examiner and Chief Practical Examiner between 1965 and 1978. He was Consultant to the IoM leading project development between 1973-83, Chairman of the IoM Council in 1985-6 and chaired the Institute's Education and Training Committee from 1987 to 1994 and made an Honorary Fellow of the Worshipful Company of Butchers Guild of Freeman.

Taking the National Federation of Meat Traders (NFMT) diploma in 1949, a licensed Slaughterman and Master Butcher, Bob was an active member of the Birmingham and District Butchers Association becoming President in 1964. In 1965 he joined the Executive Council of the NFMT and was industry representative on the Food, Drink and Tobacco Industry Training Board between 1968-1983.

In 1971 Bob was elected NFMT President and was asked to step in again in 1988-89 during the Federation’s centenary, having chaired the Training and Education Committee between 1970-1980 prior to becoming chair of the Parliamentary and Legislation and Technical Committees between 1980-2004. When as NFMT’s standing delegate to all meetings with Ministers and UK Government departments he represented members’ interests with the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Department of Health, Food Standards Agency, Meat Hygiene Service, Health and Safety Executive, Intervention Board, British Safety Institute and the Joint Industrial Council for the Retail Meat Trade which he chaired in 1985 and 1987.

Joining the International Butchers Confederation in 1991, Bob became the NFMT’s representative alongside John Fuller and later Graham Bidston. He was made IBC Vice President in 1994 and became IBC representative on the EU Sheepmeat & Goat Meat Committee in 1996 and made an IBC Honorary Life President.

Bob resigned from the Executive Council and as Life Honorary President of the National Federation of Meat and Food Traders in 2009. He will be remembered alongside contemporary’s WT Baker, ES Pascoe, RWH Covell and WFG Brabin. As well as by those that knew him, as much for his journalistic contributions as a member of the Guild of Food Writers, his intellect and knowledge, dedication and sense of duty, as for his inspirational oratory and as a strategist with a political compass directing policy and contributing to the Federation’s achievements and success over more than four decades during its 130-year history.

How was Christmas?

Like life in general, festive trading was a bit last minute with one Oxfordshire butcher remarking that ‘the lead up was about as expected and everything coming right at the end’.
In London, Brexit was blamed for poor trading in the lead up to the festivities, particularly amongst those relying on pre-Christmas celebrations.
Central London hotel and restaurant orders toward the end of November and beginning of December were down for one butcher as firms cut back on office lunches and Christmas parties.
Also evident in trendy London suburbs, ‘young professionals’ were either away for the long break or putting a brake on spending, possibly reflecting ‘jitters’ and or smaller bonuses within the financial and service sector.
The story was similar in the ‘home counties’ with reports of less buffets and less party food being sold. But increased demand for large roasts and dinner parties particularly with some customers deciding to entertain or stay at home rather than going out to celebrate New Year.
Bone-in Turkey Crowns were very popular, and sales of Geese and Sirloin were good for one Surrey butcher with ‘traditional’ gammon particularly good for another in Essex. Where customers were looking for a high quality reasonably priced alternative to Ribs of Beef.
In Suffolk Pork regained its popularity, particularly amongst Eastern Europeans. And although sales of whole Turkeys, Geese and Ducks stagnated at 2017 levels, for one butcher Turkey butterflies and large Cockerel or ‘Capon Style’ Chicken sales increased.
Whereas in the north-east and north-west both ‘town and country’ butchers reported a good all-round trade with whole birds, boneless Turkey breast, stuffed poultry stacks and ribs of beef being particularly popular.
Wholesalers and suppliers proved helpful delivering fresh meat on Saturday and some on the Sundays both before Christmas and New Year. Taking pressure off refrigeration space and much appreciated in areas of the country experiencing ‘mild ‘n wet’ weather and double-digit temperatures.
For some, a mid-week Christmas was blamed for a poor New Year trade just because everyone eventually got fed up with what was a fortnight of celebrations. But no one so far has got around to working out whether they’ve made a profit or not!