Our CEO Update
An Update From John, Our CEO & Founder - August 1st 2020
Greetings from our base in Ripon, North Yorkshire. Today is Yorkshire Day, and I wanted to use this opportunity to explain how the county is the bedrock to Farmison & Co being able to innovate, disrupt, and shake up the industry.
Disruption, I’ll admit, isn’t the first thing you might think of when picturing a Yorkshire farmer. James Herriot or flat caps might be your first thought. In truth, it is our farmers’ commitment to older ways of doing things that have allowed us as a business to innovate. As if sheltering in a cove, these small farms in the Dales and on the Moors have weathered the tides of industrial farming and kept the flame alive.
Many of the business relationships that I struck up with these farmers six or seven years ago have evolved from buying the odd lamb or cow here and there. We were a novelty in the market – a company that explicitly wanted heritage breeds for their natural qualities, and we helped these farmers to preserve the blood lines of the herds. Often, we would be a small piece of their trade, a hobby almost – the bulk of their business still went into selling into the factory meat supermarket supply chain.
How times have changed. Just last month, thanks to your custom, Mr David Harrison of Nook Farm took receipt of his new Galloway pedigree bull, a fine specimen called Billy Bremner.
Innovation has come as we as Master Butchers can cut to order dry-aged meat for next day delivery. Disruption has come as static mass supply chains designed for quantity over quality just can’t compete with our farmers’ skill in producing excellent meat.
I am always struck by the frankness and modesty of the farmers. If I ever complement the quality, they are quick to point to their fortunate circumstances. I know now from these conversations that much of livestock farming is about the farmer’s intuition, when to move the animals about the landscape, and sensing when an animal is ‘ready’ for slaughter for the best finish.
When I think of this aspect of farming, Yorkshire, as well as other areas of the UK, have retained nuance in the process of rearing animals that allows the expertise of the farmer to come to the fore, but on the global stage this is disappearing. Think of the gigantic feed lots of corralled cattle in America, Argentina, and Brazil. Often automated, the human element in these systems has disappeared.
A few years ago, French celebrity butcher Yves-Marie Le Bourdonnec caused a stir by proclaiming British beef as the best in the world, and that French farmers should import British bloodlines to improve their national herd. He was promptly chucked out of the French butcher’s federation. C’est la vie.
What we have to be proud of in Yorkshire is nuance up and down the supply chain that is only strengthening this reputation. There are so many different terrains for grazing, while bulls like Billy Bremner are guaranteeing the future of their breed. As we dip our flat caps on Yorkshire Day, it’s worth remembering the many breeds that this county has produced. There’s the Yorkshire Pig – a victim of its own success as it took very well to intensive systems, the medieval-looking Longhorn from Skipton way, and of course the numerous sheep breeds. My favourite is the Swaledale, symbol of the Yorkshire Dales and in stock now.
Something to look forward to is Swaledale mutton coming to our range in September, and which we will also be stocking for Christmas. It might surprise you, but we’re already hard at work preparing our Christmas range.
This will be our best Christmas range ever. The stresses and strains of 2020 will make way for festive cheer and reunions.
We’re also celebrating two members of staff in our team, who have been nominated for the Women in Meat Industry Awards – Michelle and Jen. Michelle was our very first employee and is now our amazing Chief Operating Officer. She oversees the operational systems that keep our web platform, butchery, and logistics operation running. No mean feat.
Jen is our Director of Marketing and led the company’s customer-facing response during the height of the COVID crisis, herself manning the phones for many weeks – you might even have chatted to her. She built new marketing and customer service teams from scratch to cope with the crisis. Her leadership is an inspiration to the young women joining our team for the first time in the meat industry.
If you could spare two minutes to vote for them to win the award here, I’d be much obliged.
As ever, if you have any thoughts or feedback, do get in touch via email@example.com or you can leave us a review here. I always make time to read your comments.
On behalf of Lee (Founder), myself, and our amazing team, I would like to give my thanks to helping our vision of making accessible, better meat a reality.
John Pallagi - CEO & Founder