A NEW way of marketing Hebridean sheep meat has been launched in the central belt, in a bid to raise the profile of this high quality product with gourmet potential.

Up until now, breeders had to market their own sheep, by arranging slaughter and butchery of individual animals as well as individual customers to sell to.

The new project, organised by Marian Bruce of the Kirklandbank flock, from Alyth, aims to market and promote Hebridean sheep meat and mutton on a commercial scale, reducing the work load for breeders while also opening up the market to the wider population.

As a result, she has organised a trial arrangement with her local butchery in Perth, Seriously Good Butchery (previously Highland Drovers) which was bought over by red deer farmer, Vicky Banks, and who recently picked up the award of Best New Butcher at the Scottish Food Awards for her success with direct and online marketing of venison.

Keen to expand into other meat products, with quality and taste being the vital components of her business, Vicky’s venison is slaughtered at her partner farm which has also recently been approved to slaughter sheep.

The availability of a slaughterhouse with on-site lairage, a tested marketing strategy and a customer base of meat lovers, has as a result enabled the Hebridean Meat Co-operative to be formed.

Starting on a small scale, in order to test the logistics, range of dead weights, yields, profit margins, cutting strategy, marketing and customer response to the meat, Vicky has agreed to take two sheep per month for six months, between July and December 2016.

At present five breeders are involved, but if there is potential demand then many more could be involved in supplying Hebridean sheep throughout the year.