Alasdair champions local food products
From a young age Lochmaben’s Alasdair Graham knew he wanted a career in the food and drink industry.
After completing an aquaculture and fisheries management course at the Barony College in 2011, the 23-year-old joined his family’s business – Barony Country Foods.
And he has been happily living and breathing traditional Scottish produce ever since doing everything from butchering local wild venison and game to filleting and preparing different species of fish.
Alistair, who’s been helping out since his secondary school days, said:“A large proportion of our business comes from the hotel and restaurant trade so preparing and delivering orders is key. We have our smokehouse in Lochmaben where we cure, smoke and slice our produce from local game and poultry to our award winning cold and hot smoked salmon.”
In 2016, he became a director of the company under the tutelage of his father, Ronnie.
He said:“Becoming a director of the business has really helped me develop my financial skills and business acumen. It’s really exciting to be working alongside my dad to expand all aspects of our business including our range of products, customer relations and retail avenues.”
Having always had an interest in aquaculture and fish processing, Alasdair did some work experience on a salmon cage site in Ardrishaig and worked part time on a fish farm at Carse of Ae.
He said:“It was great to gain experience of another food-related industry, especially one which is so linked to what we do here at Barony Country. A large amount of our fish comes from this part of the industry so it was a good stepping stone to the position I am in now.”
Working with fish and game is something Alasdair enjoys most about his job:“I do the curing, smoking and roasting of these products myself and I have inherited and developed these skills from my father over the years.The slicing of the cold smoked salmon and rainbow trout is carried out by two ladieswho work with us part time.This is a fine art which they have mastered over many years.”
The passion Alasdair has for his business and the wider food and drink industry is clear to see and, in his opinion, Scotland’s food and drink industry is like no other:“We have so many natural resources along with our produce that are unique to this country, from our salmon and fish to our fruit and vegetables and of course our fine whisky and gins.
“There is no better time to show off what we have to offer here in Scotland and protect the Scottish brand. So many of us are involved in and around the food and drink sector in one way or another so it’s up to us as the producers and retailers to showcase our fine contributions to the global market.
“The Scottish food and drink sector is growing and evolving year on year at the same time as a great deal of alternative industries are on the decline and so is an even more vital element to Scotland`s economy.”
Alasdair belives that there are many opportunities for young people to get involved in the food and drink sector – from fishing and farming to retail and food preparation.
He said:“I believe it’s essential for young people to get involved and work in the food and drink sector.
“It’s thriving in so many different ways and it’s a really exciting time to be part of what Scotland has to offer - which is far more diverse and unique than ever before.”
Alasdair’s own personal goal is to grow Barony Country Foods to adapt to the ever-changing market for smoked produce whilst staying true to its roots and he wants to develop the online and mail order services of the business.
Local produce Alasdair Graham is keen to promote Scottish food and drink