Italian-size pigs add weight to Dingley Dell product launch
A Suffolk farming business producing 350 pigs a week for high-end foodservice has launched its own charcuterie operation in a joint venture with its main distributor.
Dingley Dell Pork and partner Direct Meats, an Essex-based catering butcher, have spent a reported £500,000 on a purpose-built facility to produce a range of Continental-style whole muscles and cured sausages.
It is one of the biggest upfront capital investments in British charcuterie since the sector emerged more than a decade ago.
Dingley Dell, whose fine dining clients include The Gordon Ramsay Group, Fortnum & Mason and Aqua Shard, is a third-generation business run by brothers Mark and Paul Hayward.
They specialise in Red Duroc-based pigs which deliver a high level of intramuscular fat, or marbling.
The pigs are “born, reared and grown outdoors all year round” on a farm where 30% of the land is under conservation management.
According to Hayward, around 10 pigs a week are currently being diverted from fresh sales to the new charcuterie operation to build stocks.
“We’re using the whole animal, and we’re taking them very big – probably 190kg liveweight,” he told Fine Food Digest. “That’s twice the size of a normal commercial pig and similar to what the Italians would do.”
Despite giving its products names drawn from ancient British history and mythology – such as Albion (coppa) and Moccus (salami, named after a Celtic swine god) – Hayward said the products are firmly based on Continental styles.
They are being seen by Direct Meats as a straight replacement for the Italian meats it has previously supplied, he added.
“We’re not trying to do anything overly clever, but we’ve brought in some really good technology and we’re very much trying to emulate the best of the European- style meats.”
Whole-muscle meats in the new line-up include lomo (named Guillinbursti, after a boar from Norse mythology), a dry-cured prosciutto-style ham (Cerrunos) and an air-dried beef or bresaola (Boadicea).
There is also a range of hard, semi-soft and spreadable sausages, including cooking chorizo (Elidure), ’nduja (Nuada) and a Felino-style mild salami (Iceni).
With its strong customer base in top restaurants, Dingley Dell has looked to foodservice initially to take the new charcuterie, which is currently sold in whole pieces. However, Hayward said he was keen to talk to potential retail clients and distributors, with sliced packs to be added “further down the line”.
The taste and texture of meat from the producer’s “highly specialised” Red Durocs is likely to be a key point of difference, Hayward said, along with its strong environmental and welfare credentials.
Last year Dingley Dell attracted headlines when it sowed 33 hectares of nectar-rich plants, again in partnership with Direct Meats, in a bid to feed “one million bees” and help reverse the decline in pollinators.
This story appeared in the August issue of Fine Food Digest. You can read more on the digital edition here.
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