Porktober spotlight on Southwest pig farm and butchery, Primrose Herd
Have you heard of Primrose Herd? If not, then you can’t have been anywhere near Cornwall in the last decade! This author had the pleasure of enjoying Primrose Herd bacon recently whilst staying in a holiday cottage near Penzance. Proper butchers bacon – thickly sliced and meaty with a rich, smoky flavour. Back home, I caught up with Sally Lugg, who began Primrose Herd from her farm in Redruth, to find out more about this Cornish gem.
Can you tell me more about how Primrose Herd came to be?
Well my father always kept traditional breed pigs, so I’ve been around them all my life really. Up until 1999 though keeping pigs was just a hobby. My ‘real job’ was actually as a bank manager! In 2000 I got the opportunity to leave my job and start selling the pork from our pigs. With three children, it also made good sense. We started selling our pork, bacon, and sausages under the ‘Primrose Herd’ brand at farmers markets around Cornwall and word quickly spread.
How different is your business now?
Quite different. Although we still sell at one farmers market, around 90% of our business is wholesale for the catering market, and most of the rest is online sales. Over the years chefs began to approach us, looking for locally reared, high-quality pork to put on their menus. We now supply hotels and restaurants all over Cornwall with pork either reared ourselves or on nearby non -intensive farms. There are very few traditional breed pigs around now, certainly not enough to satisfy demand during tourist season. We do still sell pork from breeds like Gloucester Old Spots, Tamworths, British Lops and Large Blacks, but many of our customers are more interested in having consistently high-quality pork than specifying the breed, and they trust us to source that for them.
We’ve also recently expanded our business with a new butchery and production facility in Newham, which includes new, more advanced sausage making equipment. It’s still a family business though. My daughter Rachael works with Primrose Herd full time and my husband Bill helps with deliveries, but we now also have four butchers helping us keep up with demand.
What do you think your customers value most about buying from Primrose Herd?
I think primarily it’s the provenance and quality of the meat we sell, combined with the desire to support a local family. People know that when they buy from us it’s a very short chain – we’re extremely lucky to have two small abattoirs just a short drive away: sadly a rarity these days.
Our catering customers also really like being able to speak to the person who butchers the meat. We’re very customer focussed and happy to cut to a chefs requirements.
How do you champion sustainability elsewhere in your business?
Distance between customers here in Cornwall can be very long, and whilst some companies offer daily deliveries we’ve made a conscious choice not to. It’s neither a sensible choice for us nor for the environment to drive around every day with a van that’s half empty. It means we keep our mileage to a minimum, which our customers accept as part of our desire to run our whole business as sustainably as possible.
What are your most popular products?
In terms of volume it’s probably our sausages. We offer a good range, covering all the favourites but we also make some slightly more unusual varieties, like Sun-dried Tomato and Basil.
A product of ours that’s especially popular online is Cornish Hogs Pudding. Hogs Pudding is a white pudding that isn’t commonly found outside of Cornwall, which adds to its appeal. We’re pleased to have won several awards for it over the years.
What’s next for Primrose Herd?
Although first and foremost we’re a pork business we’ve recently begun sourcing and selling high quality beef, lamb, and poultry to some of our catering customers. It’s only small additional business at the moment, but who knows where it might lead? A few of our customers actually approached us about supplying all their meats. We didn’t want to disappoint them or lose the business to another company who could supply everything they needed, so we set about trying to source product for them. We’re still operating to the same local sourcing principles we use when sourcing additional pork from outside our farm – buying as locally as possible and from farmers we trust. It’s stood us in good stead these last few years and hopefully will continue to do so in the years to come.