The three-day tour arranged by Menter Moch Cymru was hailed as a huge success, with all the pork producers on tour having the opportunity to learn from some of the most successful and innovative producers in the UK.

The three-day Devon study tour (March 28th-30th) included visits to pork producers, processors, and retailers who have developed innovative market opportunities along with a host of expert guest speakers.

One of the producers on tour, David Harries who lives on Anglesey enjoyed all aspects of the tour, stating: “It was an absolutely fantastic three days, and it was great to meet up with people once again. The tour was really good and I felt we had a real overview of the pig industry. As a small-scale producer, it was good to see the bigger commercial companies and their work.

“I enjoyed visiting the Meat Box Company at Elston Farm and was highly impressed with the mobile abattoir.  It is something we could really think about here in Wales as we do struggle with abattoirs at the moment.

“For me on a personal level. as an ecologist it was really interesting to see how regenerative farming is working in other parts of the country. I picked up loads of ideas and tips, and we had great conversations with the other producers on tour – it was a great chance to bounce ideas and share information.  Everything about the tour was fantastic and really interesting.

“We had great venues, great speakers, great food and drink and most importantly great people,” he added.

The producers on tour were visiting numerous pig businesses in Devon.

The tour included a visit to River Cottage, the organic smallholding established by chef, journalist and food campaigner Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, where the producers were given a practical course on charcuterie, delivered by leading artisan charcutier Steve Williams.

There was also a visit to award-winning farm and butcher Pipers Farm, which sources meat from small-scale farmers across the West Country. Their business has experienced phenomenal online growth during the past few years.

The study tour also visited Ben’s Farm Shop, which comprises Riverford Farm, four farm shops and a tapas bar. It was time and a chance to sample local pork and hear Ben’s Farm Shop’s story from owner Harry Watson. Also speaking during the visit was farmer Simon Price, who has more than 40 years’ experience in producing free-range pigs. Simon supplies a number of well-known and prestigious outlets and he shared insights into his farming methods, his commitment to sustainable farming practices and the lessons he’s learnt along the way.

There was also a visit to Kenniford Farm, known for its award-winning higher welfare pork, online shop and successful catering and hog roast business.

One of the highlights during their stay in Devon was meeting up with John Sheaves, CEO of Taste of the West, the largest independent regional food group in the UK. Taste of the West runs an annual awards scheme and promotes and champions local products.

Bethan Morgan from Carmarthen was very inspired by the tour and has returned with new ideas for her business, improvements on-farm, new recipes and how to work with other local producers.

”The study tour was very informative, and we saw a wide range of different businesses, each successful with different routes to market.

“Pipers farm and Simon Price both had a strong focus on animal health and welfare, this is then conveyed in their marketing. I was especially happy to see pigs being reared outdoors on cover crops such as sugar beet, which was halving their feed costs. It was interesting to see Pipers Farm sending out frozen produce as this could help improve my own system of delivering produce,” Bethan added.

This was the first study tour undertaken by Menter Moch Cymru since the advent of the Covid-19, and many of the guest speakers were ready to share their experiences of operating in a pandemic and how being resilient and adaptive has enabled them to come out on top.

Elin Haf Jones, Menter Moch Cymru development officer said: “It was a fantastic study tour once again with a variety of visits that met everyone’s interest. It was great to hear from all the hosts and speakers and nice to see the producers sharing ideas. It was an opportunity to see best practice in action and it certainly inspired the producers to bring back fresh ideas to innovate their enterprises”

The three-day study tour was heavily subsidised by the Menter Moch Cymru project.

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