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Mey Selections Adds 140k In Premium Prices For Local Farmers

24th May 2006

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.

"This is far beyond what many thought was possible at the outset of the project," Danny Miller, chairman, told the company's annual general meeting at the Park Hotel, Thurso.

Also at the meeting, Garry Cronie, interim business manager of Dungannon Meats, the Mey Selections processor, said that the company had invested over 100,000 in its plant in Dornoch, expanding its refrigeration facilities and creating a new dedicated boning facility for Mey Selections meat. In addition, cattle slaughter options would become available in both Inverurie and Kirkwall.

"Together, these investments are likely to create 30 new jobs in the North Highlands," he said.

Danny Miller commented that the success of the project was directly linked to the volume of livestock that the 150 trading members of the company had provided.

In the short four month period between August 2005 and the end of the year, local farmers had earned premium payments of over 60,000 - revenue that would not have been possible without the Mey Selections brand. A further 80,000 in premium rates had been earned so far in 2006, bringing an additional 140,000 to the North Highland farming industry since the launch of the brand in August last year.

The Chairman of North Highlands Products continued, "We have consistently traded over 100 cattle a week and, at peak, over 375 lambs weekly. In real terms, during the period in question, 2,700 cattle made a premium over the Scottish average of 102,000 - typically, 37 per head - and 12,000 lambs made a premium over the Scottish average of 38,000 - typically 3 per head."

"Sainsbury's has indicated that it will increase the number of stores that will stock our beef and lamb to 98 stores. We have also secured an order for a new cheese, Highland Blue, produced at the Highland Fine Cheeses Creamery in Tain using Caithness milk."

He said that the demand was likely to grow significantly in 2006, with an extended range of products. "These additions will further enhance our brand image and bring more money and jobs into the region. We hope that as many farmers as possible in the Mey Selections region, will commit their livestock to us."

"Only by doing so will they be able to gain a premium for their stock in the region, "he added.

As a result of Sainsbury's increased demand and new sales into the food service and catering industry, the anticipated demand in the next five months was 2,000 cattle and 8,000 lambs - numbers which would grow next winter.

Danny Miller's message to farmers was clear, 'Book your livestock in now!"

Mr Cronie of Dungannon Meats emphasised the need for premium quality production, "Premium sales prices must be matched with premium quality production. To realise the potential of Mey Selections products, there is an absolute interdependency between farmers, North Highland Products and Dungannon Meats."

North Highland Products Ltd was formed to enable farmers, tourism and local businesses to promote their products to a wider audience. The Mey Selections brand is named after the Castle of Mey in Caithness, the late Queen Mother's Highland residence, which HRH Prince Charles, Duke of Rothesay visits every summer. The company is part of the North Highlands Initiative, launched by the Prince in August 2005 in order to boost the economy of the region. He has donated one of his water colour paintings of the Castle as the Mey Selections logo. Future plans aim to extend the range of Mey Selections to other products.

Danny Miller (34), chairman of North Highland Products Ltd, farms 210 ha at Netherton Farm, Wick, Caithness (arable and small number of suckler cows) and also manages the cattle enterprise on his father's farm (300+ suckler cows with all progeny finished.


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