23 October 1998

Welsh meat on the net

MEAT produced on farms in the Welsh Marches will be available through mail order and the Internet by the end of the year.

The aim is to add value and increase the modest premium already earned by stock from the 45 units marketing through Marches Quality Meat. The organisation, which is based in Ludlow, Shropshire, also wants to increase throughput to allow more farmers to join.

"Producers are struggling to make money and we are trying to increase their margins by taking links out of the chain between farm and consumer," says development manager Peter Morris.

Around 50 vacuum packed beef, lamb and pork products will be offered in a catalogue due to be launched at the Good Food Show in late November, and via the website from mid-December. Orders will be delivered overnight by express couriers.

"We are also trying to expand catering sales and investigating the possibility of using franchised food outlets and television shopping channels," says Mr Morris.

Farms in Herefordshire, Worcs, Shropshire and Powys sell though the group, which was set up with EU Objective 5b cash and is run on commission charged on stock. R E Williams and Sons, a slaughtering and wholesale company located at Weobley in Herefordshire, pays producers and retains ownership of the meat.

Mr Morris emphasises quality to promote wholesale sales to retail butchers, including some high-class outlets in London, and to caterers. Wherever possible meat from the 25 cattle, 250 lambs and 100 pigs handled each week is sold as MQM branded products.