Martyn & Helen Rowley- Where it all Started
“During 1999, the UK pig production sector took yet another huge hit where the ex-farm value of pigs equated to around half of the cost of production. To an aspiring, ambitious young pig unit manager this significantly affected my ability to forge ahead with the proposed purchase of the 800 sow outdoor breeding unit from my employers Lower Reule Farm Ltd to fulfil my desire to own and operate my own business.
Helen and I, having a mortgage and young family had a real concern that the industry that’d supported us for our short married life had been dealt a catastrophic blow that quite possibly couldn’t survive in the long term.
Helen’s comments had long been that British pork products, commonly available at the time were bland and uninspiring and that if the industry were to have any chance of survival, consumers needed encouragement to buy British! During this time a general, national drive for consumers to buy locally made products was gaining pace and Farmers markets in particular were clearly demonstrating that fresh, tasty and memorable products were available in most areas.
During January 2000, together with Ian and Carol Critchley of Lower Reule Farm, Helen and I took the plunge to invest time and money into converting a traditional farm building here at Shiffords Grange into a small meat preparation / butchery room and separate large fridge room. Having bought all the ‘gear’ we still had no idea of butchery, product manufacture and all the associated aspects of the meat trade that we needed, so alongside the general running of the pig unit we undertook the steepest possible learning curve during the next two-three months in order to educate ourselves sufficiently to be able to operate a credible meat manufacturing and sales business. Buttercross Farm Foods was Born!
Our initial focus was in all honesty quite fuzzy, without a clear, well defined understanding of our market or indeed which sector of it we’d find most joy for our fledgling business. We’d decided on marketing our Buttercross products to retailers and in particular those farm shops that were growing and required a wider product range to enhance their own offerings. So on July 8th 2000 we made our very first products……….”
Martyn Rowley- Managing Director