Organic recruitment

A series of meetings have been organised this month in a bid to encourage more farmers to join the growing independent producer group, Caledonian Organics, set up to market beef and lamb in Scotland.

Since it started in November last year the group has bought consistency of supply to the markets while improving returns for its farmer members. Jenny Cuthbert, Caledonian Organics procurement manager, said the marketing and supply of organic meat in Scotland had previously been disorganised.

She added, as a consequence retailers often sourced their primary requirements from abroad, only topping up with UK organic meat as it was required. The group wishes to supply more retailers and wholesalers, but they need more producers on board. It is hoped as a result of the meetings planned in the next couple of weeks that more farmers will join the 60 already involved.

Ideally the group wants to recruit a further 40 farmers by Christmas. Cuthbert added the group wanted to have two thirds of the Scottish market for organic lamb and beef on board. She said: "By marketing producers stock in this collaborative way we can influence the market to benefit our members. By uniting and organising the supply chain and minimising the loss of organic livestock to the conventional market, we also bring benefits to the processor in this time of shortage of supply."

She added there were a large number of conventional producers currently in the conversion stage. "If we are able to ensure our premiums are not eroded once this extra produce comes to the market, we need an organised and steady supply, not a fragmented system like we have had in the past.

"This is why at Caledonian Organics we are building our negotiating power by increasing our number of outlets," she said.

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