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Delivering Quality Produce

Fruit & Veg

It is important to be conscious of the quality of product you are selling.   For vegetables or fruit, it is a visual and taste onsite assessment.  You cannot compete with the supermarket clean and uniform produce but you can make the differences a selling point.    Although a little soil can offer a more ‘authentic’ appeal it probably good to not have lots of soil or leaf debris around the produce.  The Farm Advisory Service  has various publications and videos aimed at helping small scale growers grow better and more efficiently.

Meat Products

Understanding the products you are selling is vital so get to know the different cuts of meat and how to cook them.   Selling direct offers  good engagement with your consumers and you need to be able to talk to them with some knowledge of what you are selling.   An online search will offer some diagrams of the cuts of meat available in the UK.  Your customers will want to talk to you about cooking your meat – have some tried and tested recipes available.

The Abattoir

Have you taken stock to an abattoir before – if not have you considered what it will be like? 

This may seem an obvious question but if you have only ever taken your livestock to an auction mart then think about how you feel about taking your animals direct to slaughter.  Do visit your chosen abattoir before and talk to the staff about the processes involved.

Do you have a local abattoir and do they have a butchery department or have you spoken to a local butcher?

Quick online search will show how few abattoirs there are in Scotland particularly in the north and west.  This will have an impact on costs and therefore prices to your consumers.

Talk to your butcher about what your consumers want and ask questions to gain a better understanding of what is involved in butchering a carcass.  QMS can offer insight into carcass quality and can direct you to a Quality Butcher also try this document for further guidance .

Presentation

It is important that your livestock is reasonable clean and not heavily soiled when delivered to the abattoir.  A dirty animal poses a hygiene risk and may be turned away from the abattoir.  This document from the Food Standards Agency explains the risks involved  Click Here

Transport

Do you transport your own livestock to abattoir?  

There are animal welfare issues to be considered when transporting live animals.  This document Click Here offers guidance on transporting animals with further links to information on transport regulations.

The aim of transport regulation and guidance is to reduce stress for the animal.  This not only makes sense from a welfare point of view but studies have shown that high stress levels will affect the quality and flavour of the meat produced.

How do you transport carcass or butchered meat?  Have you the facility to keep meat cool during transport?

Temperature is crucial to keep meat fresh and safe for consumption. Chilled food should always be kept between 0ﹾC and 5ﹾC until the consumer is ready to cook it.   Food Standards Scotland (FSS) offer advice on the importance of temperature control here.

You will need to consider how you will be able to maintain safe temperatures when transporting your meat products. Good quality ‘cool boxes’ may be adequate over short distances but longer journeys will require a more ‘controlled’ facility such as a refrigerated van.

Storage

If you are not taking your products direct from butcher to your customer, how much storage do you need?  Even a butchered sheep carcass can take up a lot of space in a fridge or freezer!

Are you chilling or freezing?  Do you understand the implications of temperature and shelf life? (See previous link on temperature control).

Labelling

Have you thought of how this works and if there are regulations?    What are minimum information requirements?

Your butcher should be able to package and label your cuts for you.  This is the simplest solution for those starting up with direct selling of meat products.  For those that wish to investigate their own labelling FSS have pages that offer guidance

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