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The History of
the Traditional Breeds
The company’s Managing Director, Richard Lutwyche (right), identified the theory of Conservation through Consumption in the late 1980s and set about exploring the possibility of establishing a farmer co-operative to open its own retail outlet, a totally novel concept at that time. He quickly discovered the difficulties of such a scheme and took the concept of marketing rare breeds meat to the Rare Breeds Survival Trust (RBST), a charity established in 1973 to conserve rare breeds of farm stock.
The problem that he had identified was that people were readily attracted to keeping rare breeds but once they had a surplus of stock, they sent their animals into market but the commercial buyers were so scornful of rare breeds at that time that they were effectively humiliated either by not selling the stock or by accepting derisory prices for it. Coloured pigs, primitive or longwool sheep, diminutive cattle or those with extended horns � all were an anathema to the buyers for the mainstream market. The net result was either that those people cross-bred their stock or got rid of them altogether and numbers never expanded as a consequence.
To begin with, the RBST executive could not see the advantage and the concept was dismissed. In 1990, Lutwyche was made redundant from his job as a Marketing Manager in industry and invested his meagre pay-off in establishing a mail order company � The Cotswold Gourmet � to market meat from locally produced rare breeds. He bought direct from local farms, collecting stock and delivering to local abattoirs. They in turn delivered to his nominated contractor who butchered and processed the meat which was then sent all over the country. At all stages, the meat was promoted and sold by breed and the special eating qualities of each was identified.
The Cotswold Gourmet sells rare-breed meat by mail order. Richard
I have always
felt that eating specific
breeds adds a new dimension to meat.
The Cotswold Gourmet was effectively the first company to market the
special eating qualities of pure bred rare breeds and its success
caught the attention of the then RBST Chairman, Geoffrey Cloke. He
recruited a Field Officer, Brian Lloyd-James, and went back the
charity’s executive to launch the Traditional Breeds Meat Marketing
Scheme. (The word ‘Rare� was omitted from the title as it was felt
that the public would not eat meat labelled ‘rare�).
This was in 1994 and the first butcher was recruited in a pilot
project. Again, Lutwyche was instrumental in this initiative having
organised a workshop in Clevedon near Bristol for breeders of
Gloucestershire Old Spots, both Cloke and Lloyd-James were in
attendance and the butcher, Gary Wallace, was invited by Lutwyche to
address the workshop on how to market pork from their pigs. He
agreed to try meat from pedigree GOS in the shop that he then
managed, Chesterton Farm Shop near Cirencester, which effectively
became the first Accredited Rare Breeds Butcher. He was featured
with Derek Cooper on Radio 4’s Food Programme, so novel was the
concept and never looked back. The Cotswold Gourmet became
Accredited Butcher number two.
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