Two North Wales farming families have launched their own meat business, and in the process have safeguarded the future of Snowdonia’s last abattoir.
Tesni and Dafydd Wyn Jones, who farm near Trawsfynydd, have joined forces with friends and neighbours Dewi and Megan Williams, to create Cig Eryri (Snowdonia Meat), in a bid to create a broader market for their lamb and beef.
The impetus for the business came when the opportunity arose to take over their local abattoir, a move which would give them the chance to take control of the whole process – from farm to plate.
The Cae Iago abattoir, which is situated between Trawsfynydd and Blaenau Ffestiniog, closed last Christmas when the owner Evan Roberts retired. That meant the nearest slaughtering facilities would be in Corwen or Llanrwst.
“We usually take some lambs to Cae Iago, and Evan told me he was planning to retire,”
“I didn’t like the thought of the local abattoir closing down, as it is the only one in the Snowdonia National Park. Dafydd and I got chatting with Dewi and Megan, and we decided to go for it.”
With Evan as a mentor and the services of a local butcher, Cig Eryri will process and sell the Jones’ and Williams’ lamb and beef, which will be sold mail order via the soon to be launched Cig Eryri / Snowdonia Meat website and at local retailers. The added bonus being local farms will still be able to enjoy the services of a local abattoir.
“It won’t just operate for Cig Eryri, keeping the abattoir going will be for other people to sell their produce as well – it will provide a community service too.”
“We want to keep the carbon footprint between farm, abattoir and shop as small as possible, and we’re talking with retailers who are keen to use local Snowdonia lamb.
“Hopefully, things will progress as Cig Eryri we can buy-in local meat too, and offer additional services at the abattoir such as maturing beef and meat packaging service.”
Much planning and technical courses have followed, including help from Cywain a Menter a Busnes delivered project that supports the development of growth orientated businesses in the food and drink sector in Wales.
“Through Cywain we have had help with mentoring, our packaging and branding, and they introduced to the Food Technology Centre in Llangefni where we’ve been helped to achieve the necessary food safety and HACCP standards.”
It has been a change in direction for both families, whose diversification projects until now had predominantly been based around land skills, with Dafydd undertaking fencing and forestry work, and Dewi stonewalling. Megan is a support worker, while Tesni works part-time at the farmers’ mart in Dolgellau and also runs a sheep trekking enterprise – Sheep Walk Snowdonia – with her daughter Lois, featuring their small flock of pedigree Zwartbles sheep.
“Cig Eryri is a fantastic example of quality meat produce being processed from farm to plate through a local supply chain,”
says Cywain development manager, Marial Edwards.
“The enthusiasm of this partnership to ensure the local abattoir continues to serve farmers in Snowdonia and to keep food miles as low as possible demonstrates their passion for supporting the local food and farming industry. Cywain will aim to support Cig Eryri in finding new markets and suppliers for their meat.”