40th anniversary for butcher with a safe pair of hands

Swapping goalkeeping gloves for butchery overalls turned out to be a wise move for Roy Dixon, who is this year celebrating 40 years in the food industry.

Though the former Manchester City player 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 the club in 1969 to pursue his other passion, food.

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

MRC supplies the food industry with over 2.3 million kilos of 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 the company’s HQ in Sharston, Manchester.

It’s all a far cry from the early days when Roy and Gary created the concept of easy-to-apply, ready-to-use marinade products. Their decision to use spare ribs as the first meat cuts to benefit from a Chinese seasoning proved an instant hits and revitalised the UK’s butchery trade.

Back then, butchers 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 coat it with the new seasoning.

“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,” explains Gary. “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.”

Following its early success, MRC extended its added value offerings to multiple retailers, cash and carry and foodservice sectors to meet the growing demands from consumers for convenient, high quality fast food.

It went on to create the Flava-it range – a dry product that transforms itself into a rich marinade when added to meat or poultry, and can also be used with fish and vegetables.

“We are constantly looking for new markets in order to create even more opportunity for the butchery market to provide a restaurant quality experience for its customers,” says Roy. “What’s more, our 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.”

And so even though Roy may no longer need his goalkeeping gloves, when it comes to business, his are still clearly a safe pair of hands.

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