Peter invests in success of smaller artisans

Meat maestro Peter Hannan, the managing director of multi-award winning Hannan Meats in Moira, Co Armagh, who received the MBE for his outstanding contribution to the local economy during the week, is best known for his creation of succulent beef, bacon and lamb.

Saturday, 11th September 2021, 5:00 pm

Peter, however, has also been a driving force in the wider food and drink scene here and has helped dozens of smaller artisan enterprises on the road to success.

A great many have benefited from being included by Peter on the shelves and in the chillers of his hugely successful Meat Merchant retail outlet facing his butchery and processing operation outside the village.

The Meat Merchant, opened by Peter in 2001, was effectively the first factory shop here at a meat plant. It has since been expanded twice due to the outstanding popularity of his meats, especially his multi-award winning beef aged in what has become the world’s largest Himalayan salt chambers for beef and lamb.

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Peter Hannan outside The Meat Merchant shop in Moira

Among successful local artisans which he has included in the shop is Aaron Heasley, a chef who launched Moon Gelato last year, “Peter has been a marvellous supporter and great mentor,” says Aaron. “The Meat Merchant was my first independent retail outlet and proved extremely important in terms of both sales and feedback from shoppers. Peter and Meat Merchant general manager David Rosbotham have helped me immensely in developing my small business.”

Another company which has benefited enormously from Peter championing its products is Abernethy Butter in Dromara. Peter was largely instrumental in Abernethy winning its first business from the iconic Fortnum and Mason food hall in London’s Piccadilly.

“The MBE award was entirely justified in view of Peter’s tremendous support for our business and other smaller enterprises here,” says Allison Abernethy.

Peter also introduced the delicious handcrafted butter to his good friend Nigella Lawson, the celebrity chef who has long been a fan of his exceptional meats.

Paul Clarke, an experienced chef, who runs En-Place Foods in Cookstown and Craigavon’s Craic Foods

Among the support from Peter for smaller companies is his practice of including their products in his consignments to Fortnum and Mason, the Meat Merchant’s biggest retail customer in Britain for its butchery shop and its coveted hampers. Fortnum buyers were introduced to new artisan foods from Northern Ireland during frequent visits to the factory in Moira. They’ll often have an opportunity to talk directly with the producers.

He also introduced Shortcross Gin and Dunville Irish Whiskey to Fortnum.

Other benefiting recently from Peter’s enthusiasm for local foods include Peter Galbraith at Brackfield 29 relishes in Belfast, Carolyn Stewart of Totally Hot NI Sauces in Holywood and Alastair Bell of Irish Black Butter in Portstewart.

Peter Galbraith says: “Peter has such a wealth of information and knowledge about the food industry here and in Britain. I learned a huge amount about doing business as an artisan from the opportunity he provided for a chat. He’s always available to talk to newcomers like myself. And he readily included my relish in the Meat Merchant.”

Alastair Bell of Irish Black Butter sweet/savoury sauce is also grateful for Peter’s encouragement in the development of his products and the opportunity to sell them in the Meat Merchant: “He also encouraged me to push ahead with the development of the black butter and other products,” he adds. “In addition, he introduced me to Paul Clarke, an experienced chef, who runs En-Place Foods in Cookstown and Craigavon’s Craic Foods for new product development.”

Peter, an enthusiastic Food NI board member, works closely with Paul Clarke, his close friend and business partner who has won a string of UK Great Taste Awards for original tastes, on innovative products. And is keen to assist other artisans here in developing innovative foods for market.

“A number smaller companies that have been referred to Paul for advice and support have since gone on to win business in Northern Ireland and further afield,” Peter continues. “We are both keen to provide our experience and expertise to smaller companies with products offering marketplace potential. We are, after all, in the business together. Their success helps everyone and assists the growth of the rural economy in particular. I believe we should all work together to ensure success and to promote local food and drink.”

This commitment to the wellbeing on what is now our biggest single manufacturing industry, which exports to over 60 countries worldwide and generates £5 billion to the economy, was also seen in his work during Food NI’s successful Year of Food and Drink in 2016. He would be keen to see another initiative of this kind to support the growth of the local industry.

Food NI’s chief executive Michele Shirlow describes Peter as “a champion of the local food industry, a great role model and a tremendous mentor to very many smaller enterprises, many of which have gone on to be hugely successful. It is great to see Peter recognised for his vision and all his sterling work over the years. He is a great ambassador for Northern Ireland’s food and drink.”

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