Growing North Wales food company beefs up range

Harlech Food service Ltd at Brongain Farm,Llanfechain. Pictured are Gareth Evans of Pickstock, Farmer Rowan Pickstock and Laura Foskett of Harlech food service. Picture Mandy Jones

A growing food distribution company is championing Welsh beef with the launch of a new range of products that have just secured protected European status.

Harlech Foodservice, which has its headquarters in Llanystumdwy, near Criccieth in Gwynedd, and a satellite base in Chester, has sealed a deal to sell “top quality, succulent” steaks, roasting joints, diced beef and minced beef under the Brongain Farm brand.

The 680-acre Brongain Farm, in Llanfechain in Powys, is owned by the Pickstock family who have recently completed all the necessary Welsh Government audits to qualify for European Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) accreditation for their Welsh beef.

PGI status covers regional and traditional foods whose origins can be guaranteed.

Securing the status European Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) will give the Brongain Farm brand greater prominence and provides consumers with greater confidence about its provenance.

As a result, Pickstocks are aiming to increase the size of their Aberdeen Angus herd from 800 to 1,000 cattle.

As demand grows, Brongain Farm will be buying livestock from other approved farms who meet their “high environmental, sustainability and welfare standards”.

Gareth Evans, National Account Manager of the beef processing parent company, Pickstock Telford, said: “Pickstock and Harlech Foodservice are leading the way to help support the Welsh beef industry.

“Brongain Farm will be the flagship brand with Harlech Foodservice going forward.

“Pickstock Telford has recently achieved its Welsh PGI status and looks forward to growing the partnership with Harlech by supplying top quality prime Welsh beef.

“We have an integrated supply chain, controlled all the way from the farm to when it arrives with the customer, essentially all the way from field to fork.

“Our procurement team are on farms daily, interacting with farmers to improve the quality of the meat coming through and ensuring they meet our environmental, sustainability and welfare standards.”

Farm Manager Rowan Pickstock added: “The provenance and traceability of our brilliant Welsh beef is absolutely key in coming together to promote it.

“We’re also providing a boost for the rural economy through the partners who supply us.

“When people enjoy the beef in a pub or a hotel or wherever, they can be safe in the knowledge that it is been bred and reared locally down the road and people buy into that.

“It’s becoming increasingly important for people to know where their food comes from, to have that confidence that it has been sourced locally.

“People want to know it’s not travelled hundreds or thousands of miles from Europe or South America. From the sustainability point of view, this is the best option out there for consumers.

“The agreement to supply Harlech Foodservice is hugely exciting for us because we want to build strategic partners over 52 weeks a year, every year.

“It’s a really good fit because Harlech Foodservice are a well-established, well-respected brand in their own right.

“There are a lot of similarities to Pickstock because it’s a family-run business with a great reputation. Like ourselves, they also have ambitions to grow and hopefully it will be a match made in rural heaven.”

It was a sentiment endorsed by Laura Foskett, the Marketing Director at Harlech Foodservice, who said they were passionate about promoting Welsh products.

The company, founded in Harlech in 1972 when her parents took over a small frozen food shop, is going from strength to strength and opened the Chester depot in 2014 to expand its operation in the North West of England.

Between the two locations, the company employs around 200 staff and they have more than 10,000 product lines which they supply to cafés, restaurants, pubs and public sector customers, including schools, across North and Mid-Wales, Shropshire, the Midlands and the North West.

Ms Foskett said: “For our customers, we are a one-stop shop for all of their culinary needs and we are passionate about promoting Welsh produce whenever we can.

“That’s one of the reasons why the Brongain Farm brand is such an excellent fit for us, as it also is the perfect complement for our own meat range, Bwydlyn.

“Quite rightly, people want provenance these days.

“The fact that Pickstock Telford has achieve PGI status is wonderful because it gives our customers confidence about where the product has come from and the story behind it.

“People don’t mind paying a little extra when they know that the welfare and quality of the beef is paramount.

“Our sales team is very excited because the response from our customers has been phenomenal and they’re telling us they can’t wait to put it on their menus.”