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Keeping MRC 'top of the league'

27 April 2010

Many butchers have reason to thank Roy Dixon, who is celebrating 40 years in the food industry, for his decision to swap his goalkeeping gloves at Manchester City for butchery overalls

Though he never made it to the first eleven - unlike his youngest son, BBC football analyst Lee who played for Arsenal and England - Roy did keep goal for the reserves, before leaving City in 1969 to follow his other passion food. He started out as a butcher and the rest, as they say, is history.

Roy established himself as a master butcher and in 1976 his elder son Gary Dixon joined him from school and the Manchester Rusk Company (MRC, The Flava People) was born. From its humble beginnings of selling rusk and sausage casings, MRC is now a multi-million pound business and one of the UK's leading sauces, glazes, marinades and seasonings manufacturers.

The company supplies the food industry with over 2.3 million kilos of high quality glazes, marinades, coatings and seasonings - in addition to half a million litres of sauces - each year. And now Roy's grandsons, Scott and Charlie are the third generation to join him at MRC's state-of-the-art premises in Sharston.

This is a far cry from 1976 when Roy and Gary created the concept of easy-to-apply, ready-to-use marinade products. Their revolutionary decision to use spare ribs as the first meat cuts to benefit from a Chinese seasoning proved a spectacular watershed and revitalised the UK's butchery trade.

Butchers had usually discarded ribs as a waste product, but Roy and Gary seized on the growing popularity of barbecues and persuaded butchers to leave a little more meat on the bone and then coat it with the new seasoning.

Gary takes up the story, "The barbecue craze had just started to take off in the UK at the time, so we came up with an instant marinade for butchers - and the first value added product was born. The main plus was that it gave added impetus to butchers' sales during the summer, the time when traditionally their trade tended to fall away."

New product development is the cornerstone of MRC's success and after virtually turning the UK's butchery market on its head, it extended its added value offerings to multiple retailers, cash and carry and foodservice sectors to meet the growing demands from consumers for convenient fast food without any sacrifice on taste, quality and choice.

Its renowned Flava-it range is a dry product which transforms itself into a rich marinade when added to meat or poultry. Flava-it can even be used on fish and vegetables to enhance their versatility.

Flava-it's Chinese-style marinade - MRC's market leader, blends herbs and spices to give an exotic five spice aroma and flavour, while the Hot and Spicy variant has a subtle chilli flavour with a real kick!

Garden Mint's sweet, minty aroma makes it perfect for lamb and poultry, while Barbecue has a distinctive hickory smoke flavour. Tikka Masala, Pepper Steak coater and the new Piri Piri marinade make up this delicious collection of value-added products, all now available in new-look 45g sachets.

MRC is constantly looking for new markets and have created even more opportunity for the butchery market to provide a restaurant quality experience for their customers.

In its latest move to support high street butchers in offering the best choice and quality MRC introduced a premium microwaveable rice pouch, aimed at broadening the consumer appeal of local butchers. The eye-catching 250g pouches of Flava-it™ Long Grain Rice come in a shelf-ready six pouch skillet that offers an attractive impulse buy to complement the butcher's range of products.

This delicious, quick cook rice is exclusive to the butchery sector and with over 115 million units of microwaveable rice sold in the UK last year, gives them a unique opportunity to tap in to a lucrative market.

The company is BRC/EFSIS higher level accredited and has received numerous highly coveted awards in recognition of its innovation, quality and product excellence, including the Environmental Awareness Award and the Ruban DiHonneur for Customer Focus at the 2009 European Business Awards.

Safeguarding the environment is at the heart of everything MRC does and it has made a significant investment in technologies designed to reduce energy consumption, to increase production efficiency and to manage the recovery and re-use of manufacturing by-products and waste.

MRC played the major role in the massive explosion of the barbecue meat business and its enduring success in probably the most competitive UK manufacturing sector is testament to former goalkeeper Roy Dixon's safe pair of hands.

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