Alastair’s handcrafted salamis pass the taste test with food experts in Scotland

Limavady pig farmer has two of his hand cured salami meats shortlisted in the Scottish Retail Food & Drink Awards

By Sam Butler
Saturday, 14th May 2022, 4:00 pm
Alastair Crown of Corndale Farm Free Range Charcuterie in Limavady has two salami products in the Scottish Retail Food and Drink Awards
Alastair Crown of Corndale Farm Free Range Charcuterie in Limavady has two salami products in the Scottish Retail Food and Drink Awards

Limavady pig farmer and artisan pork producer Alastair Crown was justifiably delighted when the organisers of a major food awards in Britain told him that two of his products had been shortlisted in a market he’s been developing for some time.

Owner of Corndale Farm Free Range Charcuterie, located just outside Londonderrry, Alastair heard that two of his hand cured salami meats – venison and fennel – were in line for the top in the Scottish Retail Food & Drink Awards that recognise and showcase innovation and quality in Scotland, now an important market outside Northern Ireland for the small enterprise.

The primary goal of the awards is to help more producers, especially from Scotland and other parts of Britain, to get their products onto more retail shelves in the country.

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Shera McAloran of Karri Kitchen has her mango curry ready meal in the awards

“The listings show that our charcuterie is being valued increasingly in Scotland and also the importance of easy access to this important marketplace for us and other local food producers,” says Alastair, an award winning pioneer of cured meats from his pedigree pigs on his own small farm. “Anything that makes it harder or more expensive for NI food and drink companies, especially artisan and smaller enterprises, to trade with Scotland and the rest of Great Britain, our two most important and highly competitive markets, must be avoided.”

Bruce Langlands, chair of the judging panel with vast experience of food retailing at Harrod’s and Selfridges in London, praised the quality and flavours of his salami. “What an amazing product. Huge congratulations,” he says.

Corndale’s continental-style salamis are among the most successful and popular cured meats that Alastair processes, largely by hand, on his own small factory close to the farm.

“This means that everything I produce is completely traceable. Our business with smaller food stores across Scotland is developing steadily and seems certain to grow. Close cultural links between Scotland and Northern Ireland make it a good market for smaller companies to move into first time exporting,” adds Alastair, who has recently diversified into creating charcuterie from his own small flock of pedigree sheep. He first developed a passion for cured meats at university inn Edibnurgh.

Corndale’s two charcuterie meats were among nine products from six smaller local producers here to be shortlisted in the awards, the finals of which will take place later this month. Other local enterprises in the frame are Big Pot in Cookstown for its chicken curry with rice; Karri Kitchen from Portadown for its mango chicken curry; Prep House in Crossgar for chic n chip gravy and Chinese curry sauce; Troughton’s in Portadown for elderflower tonic and sparkling blush lemonade; and Woodlab Distillery in Moy for Symphonia apple gin.

Shera McAloran, who runs Karri Kitchen with husband Chris, is featuring in awards outside Northern Ireland for the first time.

“We are thrilled to be recognised in the first export market we’ve targeted,” says Shera, who is originally from Indonesia.

“It could be enormously important in helping to increase awareness of our Asian ready meals among retailers and consumers in Scotland,” she adds.

They are among 140 food and drink products, mostly from Scotland, to have been shortlisted by a panel of 50 expert judges led by Bruce Langlands. To replicate the consumer experience as closely as possible, the majority of the judging was carried out at home with the judges having the products delivered, allowing them to experience the food and drink in exactly the same way as the consumer would.

Invest NI is among the sponsors of the awards.

Bruce says: “It’s very clear to me as a proud Scot that the industry is in fine fettle and we’ve seen some exceptional creativity, innovation and quality during the judging. With locally, regionally and nationally sourced products arguably more popular than ever, there is clearly no shortage of fantastic Scottish food and drink products available to tempt retailers and consumers.

“I really believe that many of this year’s winners will go on to secure new listings in Scottish retail outlets and, when that happens, we can take pride in the small part we played in helping that happen.”

Food and Drink contributes £14bn a year to Scotland’s economy, the Scottish food and drink sector is key to Scotland’s economic growth, employing over 115,000 people. The industry there is also marketed and promoted by a separate agency, Scotland Food and Drink. As the world slowly emerges and adapts to its post-lockdown normal, new eating and shopping habits also surface as a result.

According to research eating healthy food is now important to 90 percent of Scots, while buying Scottish has boomed in the past couple of years. The findings of the latest research also have clear messages for Northern Ireland companies aiming to either grow or start sales there.