Caledonian Organics, an independent producer group set up to market organic beef and lamb in Scotland and northern England, has brought consistency of supply to the market while improving returns for its farmer members.
According to Jenny Cuthbert, Caledonian Organics procurement manager, the marketing and supply of organic meat in Scotland had previously been disorganised.
Consequently, retailers often sourced their primary requirements abroad, only topping up with UK organic meat as it was required.
Since its launch last November, the group has recorded a turnover of about 350,000, says Ms Cuthbert, with current prices delivering a premium for cattle of about 80p/kg deadweight and 70p/kg DW for lambs.
The group currently has 60 farmer members, supplying the market with an average of 300 lambs a week and 15-20 cattle, but holds contracts to supply up to 1000 organic lambs a week and 50 organic cattle.
Caledonian Organics needs more suppliers and hopes to recruit a further 40 producers by Christmas.
In the short term, the group is looking to strengthen its position by adding to the number of retailers and wholesalers it supplies.
“There are a large number of conventional producers currently in the conversion stage,” said Ms Cuthbert. “If we are to ensure our premiums are not eroded once this extra produce comes to the market, we need an organised and steady supply, not a fragmented system like we have had in the past.
“This is why at Caledonian Organics we are building our negotiating power by increasing our number of outlets.”
In the longer term there are plans to market the meats under their own brand, but Ms Cuthbert
“We need to walk before we can run.”