Dales Quality Meat, one of the first farmer-driven meat retailing businesses set up in the recovery period after the 2001 foot-and-mouth disease outbreak, has gone into receivership with debts totalling £336,000.

The North Yorkshire-based company had a remit to source locally produced beef, lamb and pork from farms in Wensleydale and the surrounding area.

DQM attracted considerable set-up funding but, despite its high profile and the appearance of being a trail-blazer in establishing regionally branded meat, the company had a rough ride from the start.

Losses of over £100,000 in the first two years of trading were compounded in the last year by heavy operating losses.

Hawes Farmers Auction Mart, which owned Dales Quality Meat, refused to comment on the company’s closure.

A statement from the Leeds-based administrator Kroll said it was unlikely there would be any returns to creditors.

It cited “cash flow difficulties” as the main reason for the collapse and said the company’s eight employees had been made redundant.

Owed money

“The company did not own any property and, due to the nature of the business, there are few assets to be realised,” the statement said.

An attempt to continue the company by two members of its staff has now been abandoned.

Some farmers are believed to be owed money for stock supplied to DQM but some of the biggest debts are thought to have been suffered by auction marts which were used to source stock from outside the original Dales farming area.

Some farmers believe it was the rapid expansion of the business, and the decision to switch from buying core supplies of livestock from local farms to trading at auction marts which had no link with its regional brand image and traceability, that compounded the trading losses.

A local abattoir had originally been used by DQM, but latterly stock had also been slaughtered elsewhere as the sourcing area expanded.

jh@jeremyhuntassociates.com