Her Royal Highness the Princess Royal today (October 11th 2017) visited a borders farming family who pride themselves for being at the frontline of ethical beef production and innovation in product development and butchery.
During a visit to Hardiesmill Place near Gordon the Princess was given a tour of the farm by owners Robin and Alison Tuke, whose farming ethos focuses on producing exceptional quality Scotch Beef PGI which makes animal welfare a priority.
The royal guest was at Hardiesmill in her capacity as patron of the Scotch Beef Club, run by Quality Meat Scotland (QMS).
A tour of the farm included viewing some of the 130 breeding Aberdeen-Angus cows on the premises, which are from the original Scottish bloodlines of the breed.
The Tuke family, whose farm extends to around 480 acres, focus on three key areas to deliver top quality beef - breeding, feeding and handling. The cattle are produced using a
grass-based system and the family are pioneers of the concept of “terroir” which they believe sets Hardiesmill apart.
“We are rearing cattle to produce the best possible eating experience that we can,” said Alison Tuke.
“We see our farm as the Scotch Beef industry’s equivalent to a fine chateau in the French wine regions. We take great pride in the fact the beef we produce is distinctive as a result of our terroir – the land and environment of where it is produced,” said Mrs Tuke.
During today’s visit HRH The Princess Royal presented a gift to Jake Fairley to mark his retirement following 64 years’ service at Hardiesmill, which is believed to make him the longest-serving farm employee in Scotland.
Alison's parents were early members of the quality assurance scheme, run by Quality Meat Scotland, which was established more than 25 years ago. During her visit HRH The Princess Royal received an update from Jill Hunter, of QMS’s brands integrity team, on the reach of the world-leading quality assurance schemes which underpin the Scotch Beef brand.
She also heard about the priority placed on animal welfare in the quality assurance schemes run by QMS, which also has an Animal Welfare and Wellbeing Charter and a formal partnership with the Scottish SPCA.
Kirsteen Campbell, Chief Executive of the Scottish SPCA, and Mike Flynn, Chief Superintendent of the Scottish SPCA, were on the farm to update the Princess on the role the organisation plays in quality assurance and also how it works alongside the Scottish farming industry.
The royal visitor was also shown round the on-farm butchery and product development premises built around a decade ago. This included a demonstration by the farm’s butcher, Brian Grieve, of a pioneering technique the family has developed to maximise the carcase potential - known as seam-cutting.
“We are proud to work at the leading edge of British butchery and we seam cut our beef to produce one of the largest ranges of steaks in Europe,” said Robin Tuke.
“In total we produce around 16 different types of steaks - some lean, some with fat; some big on flavour, some light; some to be cooked rare, others better done. We aim to match steaks to the customers' palates and wallets.”
Jim McLaren, Chairman of Quality Meat Scotland, said Scotch Beef PGI has earned a global reputation for quality, underpinned by world-leading quality assurance.
“Scottish beef farmers share a collective focus on working hard to produce top quality beef using sustainable production methods which make animal welfare a priority.
“There is an increasing trend for consumers to want to know the ‘story’ behind the food they are buying and it is encouraging to see individual farm businesses seeking to further differentiate their products to meet the demands of their customers.
“Hardiesmill is a great example of innovative thinking and developing a pioneering approach to marketing their own brand of Scotch Beef, and further build on the reputation the Scotch Beef brand has for provenance and quality.”