Comment: Markets make for a great showcase

Angela and Peter Kirkwood, who run East Riding Country Pork.
Angela and Peter Kirkwood, who run East Riding Country Pork.
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As a Yorkshire pork producer, I truly believe I’m now closer to our consumers than ever before. Why? It’s because of our regular attendance at local farmers’ markets and regional foodie festivals.

It all started when we found that some of the meat we sold through supermarkets wasn’t achieving the high taste quality that we’d built our reputation on.

I work on the farm with my father, Peter, and sister, Rebecca Buckle, and we decided that, to diversify, we needed to take more control over the supply chain, which meant increasing face-to-face interaction with our customers.

Not only did we start up our own butchery, but we also began retailing our meat at events such as the monthly Humber Bridge Farmers’ Market in East Yorkshire. Featuring more than 100 stalls selling seasonal, regional produce, the market has become the largest of its kind in the region and is attended by in excess of 5,000 people monthly.

The high footfall meant we would be able to engage directly with our consumers and sell more of our premium produce, so we took up a stall there. Because it’s held on a regular basis, we knew there was a good chance we could build up a rapport with visitors, too.

Our business has now established a loyal customer base through the markets and we’ve been able to gather invaluable feedback from consumers.

Since we established East Riding Country Pork 14 years ago, we have expanded our range of fresh meat and now sell an array of products that we know our customers want, including pork burgers, gammon joints, ribs, dry-cured bacon and 13 varieties of sausages.

As a result of talking to customers, we are seeing a significant amount of repeat business and are able to tailor our supply to suit consumer demand. For example, we have been selling a lot of barbecue food over the summer months, as it’s the perfect weather for dining al fresco with friends.

To ensure maintained high standards of quality pork, we take full responsibility for the whole supply process, from pig rearing and the growing of cereal crops, which enables us to mill our own pig feed, through to the final processing stages of the meat product and direct sales to customers.

Our farm breeds Large White Landrace with Hampshire boars – known for their exceptional taste quality – and we also supply beef, lamb, poultry, duck and game, which are all sourced as locally as possible. Our pigs are housed in a welfare friendly environment, which meets the highest production standards as outlined by Red Tractor Assurance.

We also invest in renewable energy, wildlife and environmental improvement schemes.

We have found that, over the years, more people want to know where there food has come from and are interested in provenance. Attending regional farmers’ markets has enabled us to share our story with customers who are interested in product traceability and where their food comes from.

Angela Kirkwood runs family-owned East Riding Country Pork, based in Halsham, East Yorkshire which will be at the next Humber Bridge Farmers’ Market, at the bridge viewing area in Hessle on Sunday, September 7, 9am-1pm.