Tasty, Tender, Traditional Scotch Beef

SCOTLAND, UK - With Christmas just around the corner, Scottish beef producers are pushing home the benefits of local, tasty and traditional Scotch beef.
calendar icon 3 December 2009
clock icon 4 minute read

Those who choose to put Scotch beef on their plates this Christmas will not only be recognising Scotland’s justifiable reputation for producing the finest beef in the world but will also be supporting a crucial part of Scotland’s diverse, farming industry, says the National Farmers' Union Scotland (NFUS).

Almost 10,000 Scottish farmers collectively look after more than half a million beef cows and are the cornerstone of a Scottish beef industry that is worth a staggering £550 million to the Scottish economy. This means that beef accounts for almost a quarter of the total value of all the food produced on Scottish farms.

One farming family who see their future in supplying the Scottish public with quality beef direct to their doorstep are Willie and Mairi Harper from Bridge of Weir in West Renfrewshire. In the past four years, the Harpers have built up Gryffe Valley Beef as part of their farming operation and are delivering boxes of top quality home-produced beef to a growing list of expectant customers in the local towns and villages.

The monthly deliveries of beef are now so eagerly anticipated that Mr Harper has arrived on doorsteps with the beef only to find that the oven was already on and the roasting tin waiting.

A typical Gryffe Valley Beef box contains a mouth-watering mix of three roasts, 12 steaks, stewing beef, mince and sausage. Working alongside the meat promotion body, Quality Meat Scotland, each box also contains recipes and a guide to cooking times.

As Mr Harper explained: “Once a year, we used to provide friends and family with some beef as a special treat. When they kept asking us for more, we realised that there was a real demand out there for beef that has been traditionally reared, traditionally butchered and tastes the way beef used to taste 20 years ago.

“There was a gap in the market for us to add value to some of the beef we produce here on the farm and to provide those living in the local towns and villages with the chance to buy locally produced tasty, tender, traditional beef.

“A great selling point for the farm is that we neighbour two local schools and the farm sits on a busy commuter route to Greenock, Paisley and Glasgow. Many of our customers pass the farm every day going to work or on the school run. They see the cows and calves grazing in the fields and they see the silage and grain being cut to feed them. It doesn’t get any more local than that and they have a real sense of knowing where their beef is coming from and can track it almost from farm to fork.”

The Harpers wanted to extend that local message so cattle for their boxes take the short, stress-free journey to their local abattoir at Paisley, no more than 10 minutes away from the farm. This is where the beef is also matured for 21 days before being prepared into joints and cuts prior to being boxed up.

The majority of beef produced from the 200-cow beef herd at Gryffe Wraes is sold conventionally either direct to a meat wholesaler or through the auction market system. However, the small number of animals used to supply the Gryffe Valley Beef boxes and the success of the project has given the Harpers optimism on how they can develop the business in the future.

Mr Harper said: “The whole venture has been very rewarding. Our customers like meeting the farmer that reared and looked after their beef and, in return, it has given me a real appreciation of how the wider community value the work and effort involved in producing quality beef.

“We have a huge customer base just outside our farm door that we have still to tap in to but the fantastic feedback we have received from our loyal band of local customers has given us food for thought on what we might do in the future. Taking the time and effort to deliver our beef direct has definitely added to our business and, with a bit of a push, we could get Gryffe Valley Beef onto the doorsteps and into the ovens of more homes throughout the area.

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