Taking control of the quality

I guess you can imagine how excited I was the day that Steve and I visited a farm with serious thoughts about actually buying it for the company!

In the end that potential purchase didn’t prove to be a practical option, but the thought has never left me, and I am sure that one day we will take such a giant step towards becoming our own supplier.

This is a journey that we started on a long time ago, and every step we take on this path gives us ever more control of the quality and provenance of the food we are able to offer our young customers.

Just a quick note at this point about buying locally-sourced food. Yes, it is good to buy from the local shop in the sense that you are supporting local traders, but without knowing its provenance, the meat you buy could actually have come from anywhere.

What we want to do is create relationships with local farmers, to know about the meat we use, to be able to do farm visits with the kids, and so on. That’s a vision of true food excellence, isn’t it?

Speaking of which, we’ve just been talking to M Newitt & Sons – a fantastic, award-winning family butchers with an unrivalled reputation for excellence. This company supplies meat to many prestige establishments including Raymond Blanc’s Manoir de Quatre Saisons.

Newitts recently purchased a warehouse with production facilities and because these are currently under-utilised, we thought there were excellent opportunities there for both companies.

We’ve long been wanting to produce our own Cucina recipe sausages sourced from farms where we know the farmers and where we can talk about the meat and its origins. Because Newitts know every single farm where its meat is reared, we now have the opportunity to do just that.

We currently produce some of our own top quality sausage rolls and pies with all the added vegetables and goodness that our food is becoming known for, but our current facilities don’t allow us to produce them in high enough volumes to maintain the standard we need.

Thus our first partnership discussions with Newitts were about our use of their facilities. But then, after they’d seen the quality of our products, we started discussing the possibility of selling Cucina branded products in their shop, especially in light of the fact that so many school students call into the shop in the afternoons.

So now we have the scenario where the school caterer brings own-brand products to its customers right out on the high street. That’s wonderful because it presents us with many more opportunities again.

Once our partnership with Newitts gets under way, we’ll probably be looking to make use of their facilities to produce an extended range of bespoke Cucina British classics. These might include mini steak and ale pies for instance, or a whole range of pasties, quiches or who knows what other products?

I’m under no illusions about the problems facing all in our industry at present. There are some massive issues for us all to address. But in spite of it all, there are also excellent opportunities to be had when a little creative thinking is applied, as this story shows.

I hope you agree. I’ll look forward to keeping you up to date as we continue this wonderful journey of ours!

Best wishes,

Sam

Sam Davies

Director of Food, Cucina

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