Farm­ers go from pro­tes­tors to canny busi­ness peo­ple

Caernarfon Herald - - NEWS -

A NEW range of lamb-ready meals, pro­duced in North Wales, has been given the thumbs up by some of the UK’s top food buy­ers.

Eight North Wales sheep farm­ers soon hope to be clos­ing out deals af­ter the suc­cess of ini­tial tri­als with their part­ner pro­ces­sor, Roberts of Port Di­nor­wic.

If they suc­ceed, they will have achieved a re­mark­able tran­si­tion from fed-up farm­ers to canny busi­ness­men, hav­ing been at the cen­tre of the 2015 su­per­mar­ket protests against low lamb prices.

As well as re­turn­ing greater mar­gins back into farm­ing, by hav­ing greater con­trol over the sup­ply chain, they hope the ven­ture will also help re­verse the trend of de­clin­ing lamb con­sump­tion in Bri­tain.

At this sum­mer’s Royal Welsh Show their busi­ness, Ffermydd Teu­luol - Fam­ily Farms, un­veiled four ready-meal prod­ucts – and a new brand logo.

Three were meat­ball-in-sauce dishes de­vel­oped in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Roberts of Port Di­nor­wic, a ma­jor re­gional pro­ces­sor of meat prod­ucts with a 10-acre site on the Me­nai Strait.

“We were all pro­duc­ing high-qual­ity lamb,” said group spokesman Michael Jones, who farms at Llandy­gai, near Ban­gor.

“But, to in­crease the vol­ume of sales, we needed to con­sider how best to add value, so we in­ves­ti­gated the pro­cess­ing op­tions and mar­ket op­por­tu­ni­ties.

“Now, thanks to work­ing with this hugely suc­cess­ful lo­cal com­pany, we are op­ti­mistic about the po­ten­tial to ex­pand out our lamb flocks.

“We would also hope to pro­vide new op­por­tu­ni­ties for other top-qual­ity PGI lamb pro­duc­ers through­out Wales.”

Ffermydd Teu­luol first got to­gether last year with sup­port from Farm­ing Con­nect’s Agris­gôp pro­gramme.

Agris­gôp leader Aaron Hughes said a key mo­ti­va­tion was fall­ing UK lamb con­sump­tion and the fear that this would make many farms un­vi­able.

With Agris­gôp’s in­volve­ment, the group em­barked on 12 months of con­sumer re­search to bet­ter un­der­stand the me­chan­ics of re­tail­ing PGI Welsh Lamb.

Mem­bers met re­tail­ers and pro­ces­sors, iden­ti­fy­ing a need for easy lamb meals that would ap­peal to mod­ern con­sumers

With help from the Food Tech­nol­ogy Cen­tre at Co­leg Me­nai, Llangefni, Ffermydd Teu­luol cre­ated a lamb burger prod­uct.

This was fol­lowed by three meat­ball prod­ucts, de­vel­oped with guid­ance from Miriam Wil­liams, di­rec­tor of Roberts of Port Di­nor­wic, which sup­plies pubs, restau­rants and leisure groups through­out the UK: “That ini­tial sup­port through Agris­gôp was piv­otal to our progress,” said Michael.

“Aaron sign­posted us to other sup­port or­gan­i­sa­tions and busi­ness ex­perts which then gave us the con­fi­dence and knowl­edge to pro­duce our own busi­ness plan.

“It also en­abled us to tap into other sub­sidised Farm­ing Con­nect sup­port ser­vices such as tech­ni­cal ad­vice and nu­tri­ent man­age­ment plan­ning.”

Other sup­port was also forth­com­ing: ru­ral re­gen­er­a­tion group Conwy Cyn­haliol pro­vided grant aid for pre-com­mer­cial mar­ket re­search, while Cy­wain, the food mar­ket­ing sup­port agency, ad­vised on brand­ing, pack­ag­ing and test trad­ing.

Get­ting a con­tract price to trim lamb was per­haps the most im­por­tant step of all, as it en­abled the group to work out its mar­gins­tail­ers.

For this, their in­volve­ment with Roberts of Port Di­nor­wic was cru­cial.

Miriam Wil­liams said tri­als of the Ffermydd Teu­luol meat­ball prod­ucts was highly promis­ing.

“It’s still early days,” she said. “But we are al­ready hav­ing a hugely pos­i­tive re­ac­tion to our tri­als of this new range of pre-cooked meals from a num­ber of UK buy­ers.”

Framed by the Carned­dau range, near Tal-y-Cafn, are, from left (back) Ar­wyn Evans, Foel­cathau; Emyr Owen, Bo­drach; El­wyn Evans, Trei­d­don; Euros Wil­liams, Llethr; and (front): Euros Owen, Ll­wyd­faen; Barry Wanklyn, Pantllin Mawr; Trys­tan Sion, Ty’n Y Coed; and Michael Jones, Ffridd

● Michael leads the 2015 protests and, with Euros Wil­liams and Euros Owen, promoting Ffermydd Teu­luol’s lamb meat­ball meals at this year’s Royal Welsh Show

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