Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal today (February, 21, 2018) officially opened a new, state-of-the-art butchery production premises at McCaskie’s in Wemyss Bay.

The royal visitor toured the new Renfrewshire facility, which has been developed with an investment of around £800,000, during a visit to the thriving butchers’ business run by Nigel and Helen Ovens, in partnership with Nigel’s mother, Elizabeth, whose father Mearns T McCaskie established the business in1935.

The Ovens family pride themselves for being at the frontline of quality and innovation, both in products and service. The award-winning business was originally established to serve the local villages with top quality meat and meat products but now offers a range of over 150 products and has a thriving on-line and mail-order business as well as over-the-counter.

McCaskie’s reputation for consistent high quality has seen the business grow to the point where it now supplies customers throughout the UK and has also established a busy cafe and delicatessen.

Nigel Ovens said the new butchery production premises, which replaced a much smaller area at the back of the original shop, will help the company to meet the rapid growth of demand for its products.

“The whole McCaskie’s team were absolutely thrilled to welcome Her Royal Highness here today and delighted at the level of interest she took in hearing about our plans for the future of our business and the time she spent speaking with staff and others who work with the company.

“The expansion project to create the new premises has been a huge amount of work and our thanks go to all those who have helped and supported us over the past 18 months to bring our plans to reality,” said Mr Ovens.

The royal guest was at McCaskie’s in her capacity as President of the Scotch Beef Club, run by Quality Meat Scotland (QMS). McCaskie’s is a member of the Scotch Butchers Club and prides itself for selling 100% Scotch Beef PGI, Scotch Lamb PGI and Specially Selected Pork.

The company currently employs 26 members of staff and hopes to be in a position to take on more staff in the near future. The business has grown from strength to strength and remains fully committed to delivering quality in every aspect of its business operation.

Jim McLaren, Chairman of QMS, was among those attending today’s event. “It is hugely encouraging to see the level of dedication the Ovens family are displaying to delivering a top-quality eating and customer experience.

“They are also totally committed to Scotch Beef PGI, Scotch Lamb PGI and Specially Selected Pork and see these brands, underpinned by world-leading quality assurance, as playing an essential part of their ambitious growth plans for their business. We wish them every success for this exciting new chapter in the history of their business.”

Among those who The Princess Royal met during her visit were father and son Rory and Andrew Duff, Directors of PR Duff Ltd, who supply Scotch Beef PGI and Scotch Lamb PGI to McCaskie’s. She also met with local farmers Johnny and John Paterson of Garrionhaugh Farm, Lanarkshire who supply some of the prime native breed beef used by McCaskie’s.

The royal visitor also enjoyed a butchery demonstration by McCaskie’s butcher Billy McFadden, supported by Billy Stewart, and a sausage-making demonstration by the company’s longest-serving employee, Jim Roger.

The Ovens family and their team are no strangers to winning awards having won several national product awards over the years, including many for their exceptional haggis, black pudding, dry cure bacon, sausages and pies. The beef, lamb and pork used in the family’s product range is 100% Scotch Beef, Scotch Lamb and Specially Selected Pork.

Among the family’s recent accolades was the “Champion of Champions” title in Quality Meat Scotland’s inaugural Chef’s Choice Scotch Lamb PGI Awards, with their popular “Scotch Lamb Lollipops”.

The business is working towards full SALSA accreditation which it expects to achieve by this summer. This will allow it to reach new markets in Scotland and further afield.

Suckler Herd Performance under review at North Ayrshire monitor farm meeting

Farmers are invited to the next meeting of the North Ayrshire Monitor Farm on Wednesday, February, 28, which will focus on improving the profitability and efficiency of suckler cows.

At the meeting, which will be held at Auchans Restaurant in Dundonald, Gavin Hill, a Beef Specialist with SAC Consulting, will give an outlook for the beef industry and share ways in which farmers can increase margins on their own farms.

He will be joined by a local suckler beef producer, who will describe about how they manage their herd to maximise productivity and profitability.

John Howie, North Ayrshire’s monitor farm host, runs 250 breeding ewes and finishes over 200 cattle each year at Girtridge. The family also runs a small suckler herd of continental cross cows, which are put to a Limousin bull. All the calves are finished on-farm and sold deadweight at 20 months of age to either AK Stoddart Ltd or Highland Meats.

At the meeting next week, Mr Howie will give an overview on how he currently manages his suckler herd. He is keen to receive feedback from local farmers about how his herd’s performance can be improved.

The North Ayrshire Monitor Farm is one of nine monitor farms that have been established across Scotland in a joint initiative by Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) and AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds, with funding from the Scottish Government. The aim of the programme is to help improve the productivity, profitability and sustainability of Scottish farm businesses.

The meeting on 28 February at the Auchans Restaurant, Dundonald, KA2 9HH will begin at 10.30am. Lunch will be provided, and the meeting is expected to finish by 3pm. All are welcome and the event is free.

For catering purposes, those interested in coming along on 28 February should confirm attendance by calling 01292 525252 or emailing FBSAyr@sac.co.uk

For more information about the monitor farm programme visit www.monitorfarms.co.uk