Tasty business plan was no pig in a poke for Kelso farmers

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CROSS-breeding two pigs on their family farm in the Borders was the move that eventually led to husband-and-wife team, Moira and Colin Dalgliesh, who farm near Kelso, setting up the Juicy Meat Company, writes Mark Entwistle.

In just over a year, the couple, who took over the farm in Kelso after Colin’s father died in 2009, have been hired to spit roast pork, lamb and beef at more than 100 celebrations and public events across the region.

Now, thanks to advice from Business Gateway Scottish Borders, the couple – who have recently invested in a spit roast oven that can cook up to five animals at a time, plus a new van – have their sights set on expanding, taking in events in Newcastle and Edinburgh, as well as renovating an outbuilding to provide further storage and office space.

“Setting up the business was a gamble but we had to do something to bring the farm back to viability as it had been in Colin’s family for generations,” said Moira.

“The easiest thing would have been to bring in cows, but I’m terrified of them, so we came up with the idea of breeding the perfect spit roast pig. Rare breed pigs produce high quality meat so, by mixing a Tamworth sow with a Berkshire boar, we have produced our own unique meat that is both succulent and tasty.

“It’s our product provenance and high quality of service that attracts our customers and as a result all our business so far has been word of mouth.

“We approached Business Gateway for assistance on how to manage our success and what direction to take the company in. We had loads of ideas and our adviser helped us to focus, and think, about what we were trying to achieve.

“Through working with her we realised that concentrating and investing in what we already offered would help us achieve our goals of securing work further afield and make a name for ourselves as a high quality catering outfit.”

Sandra Campbell, business adviser, Business Gateway says, although Moira and Colin aren’t full-time farmers, they have managed to juggle their nine- to-five jobs with building a very successful company.

“By raising their animals on a former organic farm, and allowing them to roam free, they ensure their animals are reared to a high welfare standard.

“Their business has a lot of potential and by working with us we have helped them lay out a plan of expansion that allows them to grow in a manageable way and could, potentially, create jobs for the area. We will continue to work with them, providing advice and guidance, as they enter new markets.”

Although Moira and Colin use their own pigs and lambs at events, they have also set up a supply network with other farms in the area which allows them to call in other products, such as prime Aberdeen Angus beef, to fulfil demand.

As well as actual cooking on site, which offers guests a unique opportunity to see their meal getting cooked in a traditional way, the company provides a full catering service and only uses locally sourced produce in its dishes.

And as Moira has coeliac disease – which means she’s gluten intolerant – the company strives to provide other sufferers with tasty, alternative options to enjoy.