Rare breed meat finds niche on supermarket shelves

Taste Tradition Ltd, a small family-run North Yorkshire business specialising in niche market rare breed lamb, beef and pork, has won a listing in Waitrose.

The business, founded by a mother and son in 2004, will be supplying their products to Waitrose from December 2 this year. The four products stocked will be dry cured bacon, smoked dry cured bacon, pork sausages and their unique Yorkshire sausages, flavoured with ginger, mace and nutmeg.

The business usually supplies restaurants, local butchers and private customers. Director James Wright said: "It is a wonderful way to get our products to the general public, as people are always asking restaurants where they can buy our produce."

Taste Tradition has enjoyed a host of awards in the past few years including Best Prepared Meat Product at the deliciouslyorkshire awards 2009-2010, a Yorkshire Post Taste Award in 2009 and 2010, and an Excellence in Food and Drink Award in 2009.

Mother and son Joyce and Charles Ashbridge founded Taste Tradition on New Year's Day 2004. Their success is testament to the increased value people place on animal welfare, traditional methods and high quality, beautifully tasting real produce. Nestled at the top of Sutton Bank in the North York Moors National Park, the Ashbridge family has farmed at Cold Kirby for three generations.

The traditional methods of breeding, rearing and finishing livestock used in our grandfathers' days are still evident in Charles's protocols

They chose a rare breed herd because they are well-suited to the Ashbridges' outdoor rearing system as they're naturally more resilient than the modern commercial pig. Their status is higher as a result and they mature at a slower rate than commercial breeds. In addition to a carefully-controlled diet of natural ingredients, the flavour of the meat is enhanced.

"We believe that, ultimately, this is what people are looking

for," say the Ashbridges.

Charles always had a great interest in livestock. He started breeding his own at the age of six.

After graduating from the Royal Agricultural College, Cirencester in 2001, Charles worked for a meat procurement company that supplied a leading supermarket chain.

It was during this period that he realised there was a gap in the market for quality pork, due to the intensive methods of finishing commercial pigs.

After many months of research, Charles concluded that the finest pork products on the market were originating from rare breeds that were reared in a traditional manner. Thus, Taste Tradition's rare breed herd was founded.

Joyce has been involved in agriculture all her life, growing up on a dairy farm just south of York and then marrying into a farming family in Cold Kirby.

Her involvement in the production of livestock has resulted in her continuing search for quality meat and over the years, Joyce's culinary skills have been finely tuned to bring out the very best in her finished product.

The contact with Waitrose comes after an introduction to regional buyer Tracy Marshall by deliciouslyorkshire's trade development account manager, Becky Boyes.

James Wright explains: "We never wanted to chase big

supermarket contracts, we supply a niche market and support

local retailers, but when deliciouslyorkshire introduced us to Waitrose we jumped at the chance."

The business has had to take on an extra worker to cope with the new demand and is thinking of branching out into a small range of pats.