Campbells boosted by royal meat deal

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FARMERS in Caithness are poised to tuck into a multi-million pound sales boost after Prince Charles’ Mey Selections brand secured a deal with Campbells Prime Meat to distribute its beef and lamb throughout Europe.

Under the contract, Linlithgow-based Campbells will handle meat reared within 150 miles of the Castle of Mey, which was the Queen Mother’s residence in Caithness. Mey Selections’ meat was served at Prince William’s wedding to Kate Middleton.

The Duke of Rothesay founded the North Highland Initiative (NHI) in 2005 to develop the economy of Caithness, Ross-shire and Sutherland. NHI launched the Mey Selections brand to promote beef, lamb and mutton, with the range now extended to include biscuits and oatcakes.

Products from Berry Good, Caithness Chocolates and Caithness Summer Fruits have also been included in the brand’s Christmas hampers.

David Whiteford, the NHI’s chairman, said the deal with Campbells could be worth £100,000 a week to farmers in the north of Scotland.

“The initiative is about premiumising naturally produced produce from the Highlands,” explained Whiteford. “We do our best to add value and then make sure that value is returned to the producer.

“That’s what the Prince wanted to do when he set up the initiative and what our staff are focused on now.”

Beef from Mey Selections is already going on sale, with lamb due to be added when the season begins.

Whiteford added: “Campbells are the right people to distribute for us – they have the knowledge, staffing and contacts with Scotland’s top chefs. We’re not just looking at the Central Belt though, we want to go to the rest of the UK and Europe and, after visiting China and Japan with Scottish Development International in November, we want to help meet the demand for heritage brands with royal patronage in the Far East.”

The deal with the NHI is the latest step in the recovery of Campbells after its premises in Broxburn burned to the ground in 2009.

The company – which has supplied meat to restaurants including the Kitchin, Martin Wishart and Ondine, as well as Saughton prison in Edinburgh – bounced back by opening its £6 million facility at Heatherfield, near Linlithgow.

In April, accounts filed at Companies House noted that the new site had helped Campbells to overcome the “highest inflation in red meat price in the past 20 years”, allowing it to grow pre-tax profits to £827,901 in 2012 from £302,147, despite sales edging up by just 1 per cent to £50.7m.