Agriculture & Associated Services News
North Highland Products, owners of the expanding Mey Selections brand, have appointed the Royal Bank of Scotland as their commercial bankers. Calum Dickson, office manager at North Highland Products, explained, "We have moved our banking to the Royal Bank of Scotland because it gives Mey Selections a local presence and the national support at corporate level that we need.
North Highland Products Ltd - which produces Mey Selections branded products - has received funds from the London-based Carbon Trust to investigate how farmers in the North Highland can reduce their carbon emissions. John Strak, Managing Director of North Highland Products, commented, "SAOS, (The Scottish Agricultural Organisation Society), asked us to join its project with several other partners in a project being financed by The Carbon Trust.
The prestigious BBC Radio 4 Food Programme paid a visit recently to Caithness, resulting in a 30 minute broadcast last weekend (March11) applauding the success of the Mey Selections brand and its parent company, North Highland Products. Sheila Dillon, the presenter of the programme, spent some time in the area visiting, amongst others, Mey Selections beef and lamb producers.
Mey Selections beef and lamb will now be available to restaurants and hoteliers in Caithness and Sutherland via Harrold Bros Butchers in Wick. On the 20th February Danny Miller, the Chairman of North Highland Products presented Neil Harrold with a signed Mey Selections Licensee certificate for display in Harrold's premises in Wick.
4 December 2006: The Mey Selections winning team scooped the Best New Beef Product Award for their recently launched Sainsbury's Taste The Difference Mey Selections Meatballs. At an awards dinner and presentation ceremony at London's Sheraton Park Lane Hotel, the prize was accepted by Anna Grundy and Amy Brech (Product Development) from Sainsburys, Dermot Slade, Development Chef at Dunbia, and John Strak, Managing Director of North Highland Products Ltd.
The importance of looking after a newly purchased bull on the first few days following it's arrival at the farm was one of the main messages to emerge from a bull management day, held on an Invernesshire farm this week, and attended by over fifty local beef producers. This was the first in a series of events, "Farming for the Future", organised by SAC in collaboration with NFU Scotland and supported by European Social Funding which aim to help producers adapt to changes following the introduction of the Single Farm Payment.
TIME: 1.00pm on Wednesday 18 October 2006 VENUE: Stemster Farms, Georgemas Steading - opposite the Georgemas junction of the A9. The future for sheep farming in Scotland will be the main topic at the first meeting of the North Sheep Discussion Group, a group set up by SAC's Thurso-based farm business consultants to support local farmers.
Mey Selections - the premium product brand launched just over a year ago - was commended in the New Business Award category at the second Highlands and Islands Food and Drink Forum Awards, 2006, held at the Drumossie Hotel, Inverness. The Award, sponsored by Aquascot Ltd, was presented for the contribution that Mey Selections has made to the North Highlands food and drink economy.
Lamb grading, sheep health, production systems and easycare sheep are among the topics to be discussed at North Sheep an open day for the sheep industry which is due to be held on Thursday the 10th August 2006, at Kirkton Farm by Melvich, Sutherland, by the kind permission of Messers W Findlayon. This free event which starts at 1.00pm has been organised by SAC and is supported by European Social Fund (ESF), Highlands and islands Enterprise (HIE), Scottish Agricultural College (SAC), Quality Meat Scotland (QMS).
The change in farm support away from direct headage payments means that livestock producers need to improve efficiencies in production and not rely on the single farm payment to prop up the business. Learning new ideas and implementing these ideas is the way forward.
Mey Selections beef and lamb, which is available in a growing number of Sainsbury's stores, was the focus of a special training day, held last week at the Park Lane Marriott Hotel in London, for the company's meat buyers, counter and fresh foods managers. Over 50 Sainsbury's senior counter staff, buyers and food technologists heard Justin James, the company's category manager for meat, say that the supermarket group was fully committed to promoting the brand.
A new beef specialist, Ian Pritchard, is due to join Scottish Agricultural College (SAC) at its Thainstone Office, near Inverurie, on 13 June. This new post has been established by SAC to further strengthen its services to beef farmers in the north and north-east of Scotland.
SAC has been awarded nearly £152,000 by the European Social Fund (ESF) and Highlands and Islands Enterprise to fund the continuation of a training project in the highlands and islands area. The renewed funding will support the project from August 2006 to July 2007.
North Highland Products - the operating company for the Mey Selections brand - has reported turnover of over £1.2m in its first five months of operation, with over £140,000 gained in premium payments to farmers by the end of March this year for branded beef and lamb. Mey Selections was launched by The Prince Charles, Duke of Rothesay in August 2005 as part of his North Highland Initiative, which aims to boost the North Highlands economy by promoting its produce, tourism and the built environment.
A new soft blue cheese Highland Blue, specially developed by Tain cheese-maker Rory Stone for the North Highland Initiative's Mey Selections brand, is set to become a national festive favourite following a Gold medal-winning launch at the recent Cheltenham Cheese Festival. The flavour and quality of the new soft blue cheese, described as: 'Tangy and long; a soft rich blue with creamy notes and a mellow aftertaste', has now attracted the attention of buyers from food retail giant Sainsbury who have launched it on their delicatessen counters in 23 Sainsbury stores in time for the festive season.
SAC is organising a series of meetings throughout the Highlands and Islands which aim to help farmers and crofters understand how the new Single Farm Payment Scheme works. The meetings will take place over the next six weeks (see below for times and venues) prior to the deadline for IACS applications on 16 May 2005.