Well-known Aberdeenshire cattle breeders have turned their hand to selling produce direct to the public.
Harry and Helen Brown, who run Auchmaliddie Mains near Maud, started selling their home-grown Scotch Beef to the local community last summer.
The couple have cashed in on a growing interest in sourcing local produce, driven by the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Harry, who is the fourth generation of the Brown family at Auchmaliddie, said the family had a long and proud history of breeding cattle at the farm and in recent years the focus has been on producing top-quality Limousin cross animals.
Helen said the family’s success showing cattle at various shows and sales, including carcase competitions, sparked the idea for selling beef direct to the public and telling the story of how the cattle are reared at the farm.
“Harry and his late father have shown cattle and participated in carcase competitions over the years with great success, which subsequently led to us being invited to supply beef for the Lord Mayor’s banquet in London on two occasions,” she added.
“We had thought about it for a long time and saw value selling direct and developing a deeper connection with consumers about where their beef comes from.”
The beef venture started last summer and the couple partnered with butchers to experiment with different cuts and blends to find the best beef products for their retail business.
This led to them forming a partnership with Huntly-based Forbes Raeburn Butchers and now their customer base has extended beyond a select few friends and family.
Harry said: “We’ve built up a large local customer base which has been helped by the farm’s reputation for producing quality cattle over the years.
“We have grown our customer base using social media and attending the farmers’ markets, but it’s not easy. By selling direct, we are now classified now as a food business and are required to comply with many additional regulations.
“You have to register with local food authorities and trading standards, and I know why people can easily be put off by it but we have been determined to make it work.”
Helen said the couple have become members of the brands licensing scheme at Quality Meat Scotland (QMS), which oversees the Scotch Beef, Scotch Lamb and Specially Selected Pork brands.
She said: “The Scotch Beef brand has a lot to offer for farm businesses who want to sell their product direct.
“Through QMS’ national marketing campaigns over the years, consumers associate the brand with high welfare, sustainability and environmental credentials and that’s the story we want to tell about our beef.”
We want people to know that locally reared Scotch Beef is the best quality can buy.”
Helen Brown, Auchmaliddie Mains.
The QMS brands licensing scheme, which launched in 2013, is designed to guarantee the authenticity of the Scotch red meat brands for secondary processors and other companies.
QMS brand development manager, Gordon Newlands, said it has grown in popularity during the pandemic and the levy body has had 16 applications – 14 from farmers or crofters – since May 2020.
He said: “Due to lockdown there has been sharp rise in farmers looking to shorten the supply chain and sell direct to consumers.
“With 92% of shoppers agreeing that the Scotch labels mean the meat is produced according to higher standards of animal welfare, being part of the brands licensing scheme can add credibility to your product.”