Sourcing southern meat a learning curve

Open steaks . . . Links Quality Meats co›owners Greg Egerton (left) and Jim Biggs on the opening day of their Dunedin butchery earlier this month. PHOTO: SHAWN MCAVINUE

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A call for southern farmers to supply meat to a new Dunedin butchery has been answered, but logistics to get it in the cabinets have been a steep learning curve, the butchers say.

In March this year, Southern Rural Life featured a story on butchers Jim Biggs and Greg Egerton calling on southern farmers to help them fill the chiller of their new business, Links Quality Meats, with carcasses.

The butchery opened earlier this month.

Mr Egerton said many farmers contacted them after reading the story.

The challenge was to get the animal to a certified abattoir in Gore and Ashburton and then being able to transport a whole carcass to Dunedin in a cost›effective way.

To fill the cabinets before opening, they bought meat from Harris Meats in Cheviot, North Canterbury. Harris Meats had its own abattoir. ‘‘The infrastructure is there.’’ The aim of the new butchery was to be able to tell customers where their meat was sourced from, rather than unpacking a carton from a meat processor. Sourcing meat from Harris Meats allowed them to tell customers an origin story. The dream of selling Southern meat remains. ‘‘As soon as we find our feet, we are going to get meat from southern farmers.’’ The sourcing of meat had been a ‘‘steep learning curve’’ for themselves and farmers. Mr Biggs said the story sparked a lot of interest and they took phone calls from many southern farmers.

As a result, they were talking with Rebecca Hazlett about supplying some of her organic meat from Hukarere Station in West Otago.

He also had interest from Lammermoor Station in Paerau Valley in Central Otago about supplying organic beef, lamb and heritage breed pigs.

‘‘They were the two farms which kept the communication open with us and understood the process and how they can get their product here.’’

The article launched a journey to discovering some of the logistical ‘‘dead ends’’ when trying to source southern meat, Mr Biggs said.

‘‘It was interesting to see how it all worked because we didn’t know.’’