Aberdeenshire farmer, Sandy Ingram, is gearing up to use next month’s Taste of Grampian event to showcase his home-cured pork, continuing a direct selling approach which he started in 1999 and which now accounts for close to 20% of his business.
Taste of Grampian, which takes place at Thainstone, Inverurie, on June 4, is being core-sponsored by Specially Selected Pork (SSP), giving the local homecure operation, run by Mr Ingram and his wife, Ann, additional focus ahead of this year’s event.
“I always had an interest in home-curing, seeing it as a way to add value to my pork,” he said. “It was fortunate that about the same time I started home-curing, farmers’ markets began to spring up locally giving me a great outlet for my product.”
Based at East Pitscaff Farm, Newburgh, the Ingram’s grow wheat and barley across their 280 acres, feeding 120 breeding sows and finishing pigs entirely on home-based rations.
Currently finishing about 3000 pigs a year, on a 23-weeks-to-finish system, with a target weight of 85kg deadweight, the business sells 15-20% of its output through its Ingram’s Homecure business with the remainder going to Millers of Speyside or Tulip at Brechin.
“It has always been easy to sell the bacon, the challenge has been selling the rest of the carcase, but we have worked hard on marketing it and now we sell a lot more sausages and fresh meat,” said Mr Ingram (pictured above).
In addition to sending eight to 10 pigs a week to a local butcher and attending five farmers’ markets every month, the Ingram’s have also developed a sound retail customer base in farm shops, delis, local restaurants and garden centres. Their own farm shop, while “well off the beaten track”, also attracts quite a few customers who come in on a regular basis.
Having been involved with Taste of Grampian since it started 17 years ago, Mr Ingram credits the event with having given him a lot of new customers over the years.
“It is a great day out both for direct selling to the public and also to showcase products to potential retailers who go on to stock them in their shops,” he said.
The East Pitscaff unit is signed up to Quality Meat Scotland’s new Scottish Pig Health Charter.