Sir Norman Wrassle's New Year message to Westhaughton Ladies' Circle
31 December 2014
Let me begin by saying what a remarkable year this has been for tripe. As I stand before you this afternoon, we are eagerly awaiting the final quarter tripe consumption figures for 2014. No one knows whether we have turned the corner, but there are indications aplenty that tripe sales may finally be rising after almost 60 years of continuous decline.
As I survey the last twelve months, it is clear to me that the foundations have been laid to make 2015 the Year of Tripe. We said we would put beef, pizzas and pop tarts on the back foot, and I don’t think it’s any exaggeration to say that we did so!
There are those, of course, who think that tripe is still ‘yesterday’s food’ - that there is no place for the stomach of a cow on the 21st century dinner table. Thankfully, those voices are fewer in number and we are slowly gaining momentum in the media.
Largely because of our work on Twitter and Facebox, I’m delighted to report that the age of the average tripe consumer again fell and has now reached 73, and for the first time in living memory tripe failed to appear in a list of the Top Ten Most Disliked Foods. In a survey commissioned by Birds Eye, a host of other foodstuffs outranked tripe as being more unpalatable, more disgusting and more disliked. We’re now even more popular than olives, anchovies and blue cheese!
On the subject of revulsion, this brings me to the thorny matter of the vegans. We all know that vegans are no fans of tripe. I sometimes think they imagine tripe lovers sit around in our kitchens, ripping apart cows and devouring their stomachs without a thought for their welfare or the mess that the blood will cause. Fortunately, we have at least made peace with the vegetarians, many of whom now ‘follow’ us in the social media. In fact, when I last checked, over 20% of our followers on Twitter were vegetarians. This is a great achievement for tripe: we stand a real chance of becoming the new bacon when it comes to winning the hearts, minds and stomachs of our veggie friends.
Earlier this year, the world was surprised to discover something called the Tripe Smoothie. The sterling efforts by Hyde tripe retailer Lyndon Boot to market tripe in a new way showed that tripe could no longer be dismissed as ‘chewy’. Liquidised, it could form an important part of the diet of aspiring athletes, estate agents and barristers all over the land. Inevitably, the press chose the most salacious angle it could think of, suggesting that the tripe smoothie could somehow boost libido. Anyone who knows the Tripe Marketing Board will know that we rarely play the ‘sex’ card when it comes to promoting tripe. This is a strategy we are holding up our sleeves for a rainy day. That doesn’t mean to say that I’m ruling out something I picked up from my visit to the Chorley Women’s Institute earlier this year – you will be pleased to hear that we have plans for a 2016 TMB Calendar.
But we are not about to rest on our laurels. There are plenty of new tripe recipes available which successfully mask its taste, smell, appearance or texture, even if the ‘Holy Grail’ — one that manages to do all four at once — still eludes us. During the World Cup we issued a number of recipe cards to tripe retailers, which were designed to stimulate interest in tripe, including the popular ‘Ladies – treat your husband to a Brazilian this summer!’ I’m pleased to say there are still a few of those left, and I will happily distribute them later.
This year, I was pleased to be able to participate in a number of exciting fact-finding missions to discover how other countries market tripe. Some people have suggested that these may not be a good use of our funds, but the information I glean is of great value to our industry. In Spain, for example, one of our tour guides described the local tripe as looking like wet bath towels. This gave rise to our popular Towel or Tripe? contest when I returned to the UK. I also discovered that tripe isn’t available in many parts of Crete outside of the Easter period — useful knowledge for anyone planning their next holiday in those parts.
The last twelve months have also been good for tripe in the media. It featured on the popular BBC TV cookery show Saturday Morning Kitchen, and I myself was interviewed by BBC Radio Gloucester, Cumbria, Leeds and Hereford. I was also interviewed by the LA Times in advance of this year’s World Tripe Day celebrations. I think it’s fair to say there hasn’t been so much tripe in the media for years, and I would like to pay tribute to the sterling work of our communications department.
Let me say a word or two about our 'Ooh - You Are Offal!' campaign. Tripe is an easy target for offal puns but, thankfully, we have turned that to good use by inviting those who wish to make a pun at our expense to make a donation to the Multiple Sclerosis Society. It was all inspired by an interchange on Twitter with the lovely Frances Barbour and one of her followers, Mr Max Preston. Within two weeks, kind-hearted tripe lovers had donated as much as £600 to the MS Society. Added to that, I will within a few weeks be handing over a cheque for at least £215 to the MS Society, which represents the profits from the sale of our TMB 2015 Diary. I'd like to thank Frances and Max for their inspiration!
But let me close with this assurance to you. If people think tripe has reached its high water mark this year, then they are sadly mistaken. 2015 is destined to be the year of tripe. If we don’t quite manage that, then I am sure that 2016 will be. Thank you. May I take this opportunity to wish the ladies of Westhaughton and tripe lovers the world over for their continued support.