3 March 2000

THEY GIVE FOOD AN EXTRA SOMETHING

Producers in the Tastes of Anglia food group are full of

ideas to improve their businesses as Tessa Gates found

out at their sixth annual food festival

YOU have to stay a step ahead of the game to be successful in business.

Howell Jenkins, Five Winds Farm, Bromeswell, Suffolk, diversified from pig farming four years ago by setting up a wholesale butchery and smokehouse to supply catering outlets and the farms own shop in a converted railway station at Melton, Suffolk.

Most of his meat is sourced locally except for beef. He has best Aberdeen Angus sent down from Millers of Speyside every week. It is in great demand as is his traditional dry-cured bacon and bacon cured in Guinness and black treacle.

"I have gone from farming to having a successful butchery business, but empty pig pens," says Mr Jenkins. He is glad he got out of pigs but worries about the future of farming in Britain and the outcome of running the industry into the ground. "Anarchy is only three square meals away," he warns.

David Upson, Stoke Farm Orchards, Battisford-Tye, Suffolk, is a fruit farmer with an award for exports – no thanks to any help from MAFF. He found a market for his apples in Holland. "But MAFF did not want to get involved. Fortunately the DTI and Food From Britain were marvellous," says Mr Upson, who also trades with Germany.

&#42 Full circle

His business has gone full circle from growing apples to making apple juice from top grade fruit to supplying fresh fruit again, this time individually wrapped and presented to be sold alongside his six-awards-winning Appletree Hill juice in larger farm shops and specialist outlets. The latest addition to the range is Saxon 1050, apple juice in a sophisticated frosted glass bottle designed for the dining table. Launched in December, it retails between £3 to £5. Stock-ists include Chatsworth Farm Shop and Selfridges.

Ian Whitehead of Lane Farm Country Food, Brundish, Suffolk, does his own recipe development to make his pork products a little different from others. He has 200 sows, farms just under 7ha (16 acres) and says he would be struggling if he had not built an EU standard cutting room and diversified.

He makes a range of delicious sausages with unusual combinations of ingredients including one with stilton, and presents attractive ready-to-cook joints such as boned pork loin stuffed with apricots and wrapped in streaky bacon.

Like many other small producers he finds inspection charges too high and nonsensical.

"Uncooked meat is a low risk product, yet I have to pay £60 a time for a weekly inspection. Cooked meat is a high risk product and I am inspected for that once a year," he says.

&#42 Glutton for work

Jayne Murray of Poppylot Farm Dairy, Feltwell, Norfolk, is a glutton for hard work. This mother of two single-handedly milks 56 ewes twice a day, makes cheese and yogurt and finds time to develop new recipes. New to her range is Norfolk White Lady, a brie style cheese that ripens wonderfully and has a flavour that will stand comparison with any French brie.

Wissington is a hand-made hard cheese that forms an attractive and tasty natural rind. Mrs Murray sells her products through specialist and farm shops. In the next week or so she will be coping with lambing and this year intends to separate ewes and lambs after 36 hours.

"I usually do it at 8 weeks but lose 30% of the milk that way, so, hopefully, this will prove more profitable," she says.

Inquiries: Tastes of Anglia 01473-785883.

Dry cured: Howell Jenkins (near left) and Derek Reynolds with Five Winds Farm bacon.

Fresh off the press: Apple juice has gone sophisticated in the hands of fruit farmer David Upson.

Recipes for success:Pig farmer

Ian Whitehead and his daughter Rebecca with Lane Farm pork products and (left) Jayne Murray with her new hard cheese Wissington.