Award winner focuses on niche market meats
Bruces Hill Cattle Company in Northern Ireland, buoyed by its success in the recent UK Great Taste Awards, is poised to launch a new range of speciality meat products.
The company, based near Ballymena in County Antrim, is developing beef products from its herd of Belted Galloway cattle and also expanding into premium meat pies for opportunities it has pinpointed in Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland.
Dexter meat from the company’s own farms and marketed through its Bruces Hill Farm Shop, one of the biggest of its type in Northern Ireland, gained six gold stars in the annual awards, run by the hugely influential UK Guild of Fine Food.
The business gained two gold stars for its Dexter Rib Eye Steak, described by the Great Taste judges as having ‘lovely flavours with all the complexity of good well bred beef’’. Other gold stars were won by the company, a first time entrant in this year’s awards, for its Dexter steaks.
The Angus Dexter and Belted Galloway meats are sourced from the prize-winning and grass-fed animals reared on three local farms owned by the company, headed by accountant Mike Frazer. The three farms cover around 800 acres. The quality of its cattle was recognised by judges at the Royal Welsh and Royal Balmoral shows.
“Winning so many gold stars from such an expert judging panel in the Great Taste Awards and at the first attempt was a marvelous boost for the business. It also gives us a platform for growth in speciality meats with the traceability and provenance that consumers are increasingly seeking. All our meat comes from directly our own farms and is prepared by our own team of highly qualified butchers. It’s a real farm to fork operation,” Mike Frazer says.
He’s very excited by the potential of the new meat from ‘Belties’ (Belted Galloways) which has been successfully launched recently at the farm shop.
“The Beltie meat is just as succulent as Dexter, for example, but it has a milder flavour. It’s already proving popular in the shop. We expect that it will be another success for the business particularly in Britain and the Republic of Ireland, the two markets we have targeted for growth over the next 12 months. We already have sales there for our Angus meat through our website,” he adds.
To help expand sales in Britain, he’s devised a transport strategy that will enable the business to deliver chilled meat to key centres there – and further afield - within two days.
The Bruces Hill Cattle Company takes its name from the Bruce bothers from Scotland who landed in Ireland back in the 14th century. In 1315, Edward Bruce, brother of the famed Robert the Bruce, conquered the army of Richard de Burgo, the Norman Earl of Ulster, at the Battle of Tawneybrack, close to the company’s Edenbrook Farm at Kells.
“We’ve got exceptional products and a tremendous story to tell, the sort of heritage which could intrigue customers particularly in Scotland. I am sure the Bruce brothers brought cattle with them to feed the army…and some of the animals may have been left to help shape future herds in the north of Ireland,” Frazer says.
As well as a comprehensive range of meat from grass-fed animals on the company’s farms, Bruces Hill Farm Shop, which opened in March, offers opportunities to local artisan food business to display their products. On the shelves are sauces from Kilkeel’s Red Dog, jams from Erin Grove in Enniskillen and Glastry Farm Ice Cream in Kircubbin, all three also Great Taste ‘golden’ companies.
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