Fife farmer and black pudding maker Pete Mitchell will be selling his products in the Far East after winning a contract to supply a high-end supermarket in Hong Kong.
The Farmer’s Son, which is based in Auchtertool, near Kirkcaldy, will be supplying his black pudding, haggis and white pudding to the City Super chain in the former British colony.
Founded four years ago by Pete Mitchell, artisanal business The Farmer’s Son produces a range of Scottish meat puddings from locally sourced all-natural Scottish ingredients.
Using the best local ingredients is key to founder Pete, who only adds the finest PGI Scotch Beef, local high welfare pork and Scottish produced oats to his products.
The introduction with the luxury Hong Kong store was made when The Farmer’s Son showcased their products at a Scotland Food and Drink export event.
Partnering with City Super, which operate 21 stores in Hong Kong, offers The Farmer’s Son an opportunity to share their delicious products in prime location stores in the city, in time for Scottish expats to celebrate Burns Night on January 25.
However, the path to one of Hong Kong’s most prestigious stores has not been without its challenges as The Farmer’s Son has had to contend with a global pandemic and local political unrest.
Pete, who farms at Clentrie Farm, said: “It’s a great achievement for us. It’s taken quite a long time and we initially had the discussion more than a year ago at a ‘Meet the Buyer’ event that was put on by Scotland Food and Drink.
“The buyer from City Super instantly understood what we did and what we were trying to achieve in telling our story, they understood the quality aspect and the traceability provenance and our heritage. We sent them some samples and had many discussions.
“As you are aware it has been a difficult year and particularly in Hong Kong there has been a lot of political unrest. Even in a year when things are ‘normal’ trying to take a business overseas, especially with something perhaps where there’s not as much knowledge around it like black pudding or haggis and what to eat it with it. There is an element that people are unsure what the products are.
“The guys at City Super tried really hard to make it happen and all the effort, through constant communication, and it came off.
“We are delighted that all our hard work has paid off and our first order to City Super is on its way.”
There is obviously the draw around British and Scottish culinary delights, but Scotland and Scottish products are known across the world for excellence and producing food to a high standard.
Pete Mitchell, The Farmer’s Son
With a large number of ex-pats residing in Hong Kong, you might expect that would be the market to aim for, but Pete explained the reputation for quality that Scottish cuisine has worldwide means the interest is much more widespread.
“There is obviously the draw around British and Scottish culinary delights, but Scotland and Scottish products are known across the world for excellence and producing food to a high standard,” he continued.
“For the ex-pat market it’s a taste of home, but for those overseas it’s like whisky or shortbread, it’s associated with something of interest and quality. I think it caters to both markets there.
“The products are so versatile. They are not just breakfast products as they can be added into delicious seafood dishes, pastries and casseroles or used as canapes. It has become a food item that can be used to add flavour and texture to things that might either be bland or simple.”
Having launched The Farmer’s Son four years ago, the Hong Kong contract is a deserved reward for the 11th generation farmer who travelled the length and breadth of Britain to get his haggis and black and white puddings to point of sale.
“We have always been in food and farming and it comes from a long tradition. I grew up going to farmers’ markets and understood it takes time and having good quality ingredients to make good quality products,” Pete added.
“Everything we use is natural off the farm or is sourced locally. I knew that the products were very good but outside of local we hadn’t really told the story behind the products.
“I was speaking to someone in London who was a chef who was complaining about the quality of black pudding and haggis and said unfortunately that a lot of these products were mass produced, no one really knows what’s in it, where the ingredients are from and they don’t really taste how they used to taste.
“That kind of set the wheels in motion and I started gong round restaurants, butchers and farm shops. I must have visited around 1,500 butchers and farm shops from Cornwall to Aberdeen, from Wales out to Kent.
“Literally every city in the UK I have been to and taken them samples and now we have around 400 customers, family-owned specialist retailers up and down the country. We supply some marvellous chefs and butchers and we have our online shop as well.
“It’s been four years of very hard work, but it’s really rewarding and we get letters from customers all the time telling us how good they they think the product is. That is something really special when someone takes a moment out of their day to put pen to paper.
“People are now actively looking for products that have that provenance and the heritage behind it and we are working with the right partners. We have also had some success with some supermarkets, like Booths in the north of England and we are lucky in what we have done.
“We do our own sausages as well and I was once told do one thing and do it very well. I do believe that, although we do four things, I think we do four things very well.”
Hong Kong bound?
With products being supplied to Denmark, France, Estonia and now Hong Kong, a trip to the Far East to keep an eye on progress has certainly now been ruled out and could be the start of something really exciting for The Farmer’s Son as an artisanal producer.
Pete added: “I haven’t made any immediate plans to hop on a plane, but I really believe you should see your customers, see where your product is being sold and keep trying to improve our product, see how it’s displayed and packed. You have to get out there and get feedback, it’s not always easy sitting at home and phoning people.
“I think this is just the start of how far we can take our products. There is a huge popularity globally looking for these products and we are very ambitious. You have to keep growing. We are still relatively small as a start-up, but we think like a medium sized or larger company about what we want to achieve and what our vision is.”