To help inspire foodies make the most of some of the wonderful produce that is available on their own doorstep, passionate cooks from across Wales have teamed up with Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales, Menter Moch Cymru and other leading industry figures to show why Welsh consumers should be choosing to source their pork locally in 2021, and beyond.
This week is an annual celebration of artisan producers and retailers in Wales that specialise in breeding and supplying high quality pork and pork products, from traditional Welsh sausages to Italian style charcuterie. With a ‘buy local – think global’ theme this year, leading figures from Welsh food such as Simon Wright of Wright’s Food Emporium and Owen Morgan of Bar 44 will be showcasing the best of locally sourced pork through a series of unique globally themed recipes.
Ethically reared, sustainably produced
Wales is home to small-scale and artisan pork producers specialising in creating a unique, hand-reared product; a consequence of this is that their product is often only available to buy directly from the producer or in equally small scale local independent shops, like butchers.
How food is produced and the impact it has on the environment have increasingly become important factors for consumers in recent years. For generations, Welsh farmers have played a pivotal role in creating and maintaining the rural landscapes that we know and love, both physically and culturally.
The importance of the farming and agricultural industry to the economic wellbeing of communities across Wales is highlighted by research showing that for every one pound spent locally with an SME, up to 70 pence circulates back into the local economy.
Clive Swan and his wife Gail first opened Swans Farm Shop near Mold in 2003, and since then he has won many coveted awards including Retailer of the Year and Champion Butcher for Wales.
“Here at Swans we’re passionate about producing the optimum cut of meat for our customer, and food miles, quality and traceability are incredibly important to us. We start at the beginning with happy animals and we keep our own pedigree Welsh pigs for the shop, so we know exactly the life they’ve life and that it is a very good one.
“Our pig herd is growing and growing – we started with two pigs in 2010 and now have over 100! All our pigs are free range; some piglets are outside from birth, but in the winter they have a spacious shed to keep them nice and warm. You can see some of the older pigs outside the farm shop roaming in the fields with their huts for shelter.
“As with all farming, pig keeping involves a lot of work but we love it. It is a lifestyle that our customers are buying into when they buy our product; they are saying yes, this is the kind of well-loved and hand-reared animal that we want to see.”
Why NOW is the right time to start buying local
The expertise and effort of everyone across the supply chain in Wales who has worked tirelessly to ensure the continued supply of food, in difficult circumstances over the past year, is evident for all to see.
Consumers can help keep that essential sense of community alive by buying locally sourced food from their doorstep, both this January and by making a permanent shift in their shopping habits into the future too.
Pig farmer and pork producer Graeme Carter of Red Valley Farm in Carmarthenshire hasn’t let 2020 rain on his parade. After setting a Guinness World Record in 2019 for the most pigs in blankets made in one minute, at the end of 2020 he managed to take his business to the next level and open his own on site butchery.
“My year has seen ups and downs – from setting the world record at the Royal Welsh Winter Fair in 2019 and riding high on that in the new year, to then having coronavirus hit us in March. But I was determined to follow through with the goals I had already set myself to open a butchery on the farm – we’ve just managed it on top of the day to day running of our mobile farm shop trailer selling through this horrible year we have all had!
“I am thrilled to be able to say I achieved that, after what 2020 threw at us, and I am still planning to open a permanent shop in the very near future.
“Big thanks to my loyal customers – thanks to them I have been able to keep doing what I love; looking after the pigs and creating a truly special product with the meat we rear on our farm. I get a lot out of what I do, and I know that shows in the end product – the customers see that and taste that, and it’s what farming is all about.”
The foodie’s perspective
Food writer and broadcaster-turned-restaurateur Simon Wright grew up in Cardiff, and after editing the AA Restaurant Guide and advising on Channel 4’s Kitchen Nightmares with Gordon Ramsay, he set up his own farm and became a partner in Y Polyn restaurant. He currently runs Wright’s Food Emporium in Llanarthne, Carmarthenshire.
To celebrate Porc From Wales Week, Simon is sharing the recipe of one of his restaurant’s signature dishes: Porc Belly Cubano. This crowd-pleasing sandwich has its origins in Florida, being created by Cuban immigrants as a filling and easy to eat lunch; it is best served hot and oozing with juicy marinated meat, cheese and pickles.
“For me, pork is right up there with lamb as some of the finest food that we produce in Wales. Great food doesn’t have to be complicated, and as my recipe shows, the taste of quality ingredients will always shine through.
“Our Porc Belly Cubano sandwich really is a thing of beauty and is one of our most popular dishes at the restaurant. But it is totally dependent on the quality of the pork, because that’s the main ingredient. I’m a great believer in cooking with quality, locally sourced produce and we’re very lucky in Wales to be blessed with some fantastic pork producers.”
The market experts’ perspective
Kirstie Jones, Market Development Officer at Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales, added:
“Porc From Wales Week is a great opportunity to help give our local economy a much needed boost. The essential links in our food supply chain – our farmers, food producers and retail businesses – need that extra support from consumers now, more than ever.
“Supporting your pork producer not only helps local family and farming businesses and the economy, but also helps the environment through reducing the number of food miles.
“While a burst in January during Porc From Wales Week is a step in the right direction, buying locally as often as possible would be a great New Year’s resolution for the long term. By making it the new normal way of shopping, we could then experience a tastier, fresher, sustainable and prosperous 2021 and beyond.”
Also supporting Porc From Wales Week, Menter Moch Cymru helps develop the pig industry in Wales, providing assistance, training and advice to producers and other businesses in the sector.
Melanie Cargill, Menter Moch Project Manager, said:
“The profile of the pork industry in Wales is continuing to grow; celebrating the fantastic work that Wales’s farmers and suppliers do to create this unique product is vital to increasing that awareness and further grow at-home demand.
“We are so proud of the end product coming out of Wales – its exceptional quality, taste and versatility – and think it deserves great limelight because it is about much more than chops and Sunday roasts! If you visit porcweek.wales you can find lots of tempting new recipes to inspire you in the kitchen.”
Menter Moch Cymru is funded by the Welsh Government Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme 2014-2020, which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government.