From humble beginnings just five years ago, an expanding Borders catering firm has notched a notable success.
It was announced last week that The Juicy Meat Company of Kincraig Farm, Hume, near Kelso, has been selected by the Scottish Public Pensions Agency (SPPA) to deliver a comprehensive catering service at its Tweedbank headquarters.
From November 22, the firm will provide varied breakfast and lunch choices, along with ad-hoc buffets, homebaking and hot and cold snacks for the 300 civil servants who work there.
“It’s a real vote of confidence,” admitted Moira Dalgliesh, who launched the venture in June 2009, with her farmer husband Colin and his brother Michael.
“Like many small-scale farm businesses, we were looking at ways to diversify and, after a bit of market research, we felt there was a niche to provide hog roasts at local functions and events,” recalled Moira.
“We knew we would have competition, but felt that by concentrating on a high-quality product and with a real focus on customer service, we at least stood a chance.”
After acquiring a Tamworth sow and rearing 10 piglets at Kincraig, The Juicy Meat Company took its first tentative steps.
“We started with a few private parties and the occasional wedding and, within a year, we were being asked to cater for bigger community events. Due to word of mouth, we were getting busier and busier.
“By last summer, we were often doing three events simultaneously and we ended the year by hiring 25 casual waitresses and catering for 480 guests at a Christmas party night at Kelso’s Springwood Park.”
The Juicy Meat Company has also broadened its business base by opening the popular Street Kitchen fast-food outlet at Charlesfield near St Boswells and running the catering at Minto Golf Club.
The mouth-watering hog roasts – with the assured provenance of Kincraig’s prolific litter of Tamworth/Berkshire cross pigs – remain the firm’s flagship, but as the company has expanded, so has the range of produce it offers.
“Since we started, we have never wavered in our commitment to source all we can from the very best local suppliers,” said Moira.
Standhill Cheese, The Teviot Smokery, Border Meringues and Maid By Marion are just a few of the Borders-based firms used by The Juicy Meat Company.
“We don’t hand out rigid sample menus to event organisers – they tell us what they want, be it mash and peas or steak and Champagne – and we go out and get it.”
Moira acknowledges the “excellent support and advice” her firm has received from Borders Business Gateway. She also commends the Rural Leadership courses she has attended in helping hone her management skills as the firm has developed.
“Event catering tends to be seasonal, so the beauty of the SPPA contract is that it put us on a solid footing all year round,” she explained.