NORTH-EAST butcher Anthony Kitson has meatily ‘beefed up’ his Christmas offering after embarking on a festive buying spree that saw him claim every single supreme champion at all four of the UK’s premier winter primestock shows and sales.

In his continuing quest for the best, Mr Kitson travelled the length and breadth of the country to bag the title winners at the Royal Ulster, English, Scottish and Welsh Winter Fairs, thought to be the first time an independent family-run butcher has achieved such a remarkable coup.

In the past, he has claimed three Winter Fair supreme champions, surpassing it with a clean sweep this year when resuming his post-pandemic mission with the welcome return of the seasonal highlights, at the same time beating off fierce competition at the ringside from other leading retail butchers.

The high-profile purchases, along with multiple prizewinners at other regional auctions marts’ Christmas shows, are now being fully matured in readiness for the peak festive trade, primarily at Kitsons & Sons’ flagship Five Houses Farm Shop and Kitchen in Crathorne, just off the A19 near Yarm, with ample stocks for the three retail shops in Northallerton, Stockton-on-Tees and Hutton Rudby.

Champion beef cuts will also be served up in a variety of dishes at Five Houses Kitchen, which, along with the farm shop, was launched four years ago following the transformation of a Grade II listed quadrant farm building on the Crathorne Estate, a project that represented the biggest single investment ever made by the long-established business, whose roots stretch back to the 17th century.

Mr Kitson’s investment in the best beef that money can buy runs into many thousands of pounds and began with the acquisition of the four keynote UK regional supreme champions at The Royal Ulster Agricultural Society Premier Beef highlight, The Scottish National Fat Stock Club’s LiveScot showcase, The English Winter Fair and The Royal Welsh Winter Fair. These alone represented a spend of more than £20,000.

The North Yorkshire and Durham butcher also mounted a successful raid on the Midlands to claim two further Christmas supreme champions at leading shows in Melton Mowbray and Bakewell, shelling out almost £12,000.

The festive buying spree didn’t end there. In addition, Kitson & Sons continued its support of regional agricultural communities and their local economies by adding multiple prizewinners to its festive shopping haul at Christmas shows staged by northern auction marts. These included the supreme champions at both Northallerton and Hexham Auction Marts, the reserve supreme champion at CCM Skipton and five first prize winners at Cockermouth Auction Mart.

Mr Kitson, whom many in the sector regard as a true champion of UK livestock, said: “It’s got to be the best haul of beasts l have ever seen and bought. Christmas is all wrapped up and will soon be out there on a plate!

“I must compliment both the vendors of these top-notch prime cattle and the live auction mart system, which is so essential to the wellbeing of the UK livestock industry. Long may this continue to maintain the standard of livestock procurement.

“It’s another fantastic feast of festive fatstock and, supplemented with other prize-winning prime lamb, pork, turkeys - and more, it’s all set to be our best Christmas on record. Importantly, while we have gone to extraordinary lengths to secure some of the best meat in the country customers can rest assured that it will be available over our shop counters at our normal prices. Let’s call it another special Christmas present for our ever-loyal following!”