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14.06.07
Cornish taste challenge favours local food

Visitors to the hugely popular cookery demonstrations in the Women's Food and Farming marquee at this year's Royal Cornwall Show, consistently preferred locally produced food to popular mass produced brands.

Organised by Taste of the West in Cornwall and Organic South West, seven different un-named food and drink items were handed out to people over the three day show, and their favourite product recorded. Angie Coombs, Manager, Taste of the West Cornwall, says that in her opinion taste is an "emotional response".

"I've studied the science behind taste and obviously everyone has a different palate but it was fascinating to find that almost everyone, regardless of age, could taste a difference and were quite emphatic about their preference," said Angie.

Produce included in the taste challenge were local pork sausages from Cornwall Quality Meats, bacon from the Cornish Pork Pantry, strawberries from Boddingtons Berries, organic milk from Roskilly's, apple juice from Cornish Orchards, turkey breasts from Gobblers and an organic yoghurt smoothie from Helsett Farm. In every case they were compared with a similar quality product available nationally from supermarkets.

Organic South West Project Manager Traci Lewis said: "The sort of remarks people made were "tastes just like it used to", "full of flavour" and "lovely creamy consistency", which came as no surprise to us, as local producers put such a lot of effort into getting the quality just right."

Traci concluded: "We don't want to knock supermarket brands, but do want to let people know that there is a choice. Very often local food or drink tastes so much better. It doesn't necessarily cost more, probably has a lower environmental impact in regards to food miles and helps to increase the local economy."

For further information please contact Traci Lewis, Project Manager, Organic South West, on 01208 78988/07870 268654.

The Objective One Programme for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly has invested in Organic South West and in Taste of the West in Cornwall through the European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund (EAGGF).

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Editor's notes:

Organic South West is a Soil Association project, part funded by the EAGGF and Defra through the Objective One Programme, to help grow the organic market in Cornwall & the Isles of Scilly. They provide technical, business and market support across the supply chain to businesses that produce, process and retail organic produce. For more information see: www.organicsouthwest.org or call 01208 78988

Taste of the West in Cornwall is a £5 million Objective One gateway project, funded by the European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund (EAGGF), the Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra) and private matched funding. It is part of the Taste of the West regional food group. Taste of the West's Cornwall project includes a trade development programme, a marketing grant scheme and a capital grants scheme, available to small and medium sized food businesses which produce, sell or process foods in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. For more information log on to www.cornwalltasteofthewest.co.uk.

The results of the taste challenge were:

Pork sausages: X brand 1; Cornwall Quality Meats 49
Milk: X brand 35: Roskilly's 43
Turkey: X brand 31; Gobblers Turkey 62
Apple juice: X brand 11: Cornish Orchards 39
Strawberries: X brand 'Elsanta' 6; Boddingtons 'Honeoye' 42
Bacon: X brand 20; Cornish Pork Pantry 45
Strawberry smoothie: X brand 7; Helsett's 35

NB Where there were differences, it is usually children who appeared to prefer X branded products.

DETAILS OF PRODUCERS

Cornwall Quality Meats (Cornwall Sausage Company)
Steve Pearce, Penzance, 01736 366306
www.cornwallqualitymeats.co.uk
Steve Pearce has been in the butchery industry for 20 years but established Cornwall Quality Meats just 2 years ago. He is dedicated to sourcing all his meat within a 10 mile radius of his unit in Penzance and finished animals go to JB Richards, Truro. High Quality Cornish meats include mature beef, game, sausages and pies. They also supply fresh eggs and have their own delicatessen. The business has quickly built and Steve now supplies, wholesale, retail, hospitality, schools and direct from his Penzance unit. Steve's speciality is sausages and after collecting inspirational recipes over the years, launched the Cornwall Sausage Company at this year's Royal Cornwall Show. The range, which boasts of over 30 different varieties, includes everything from tradition pork to venison and red wine.

Cornish Pork Pantry
Jeremy and Michelle Burnett, Truro, 01726 883080 www.cornishporkpantry.co.uk
Although farmers with 11 years behind them the Burnetts only moved into meat processing 12 months ago producing sausages, pork pies and pates from home-reared Welsh and saddleback pigs (300-400) and beef from their Aberdeen Angus herd (40 sucklers). Finished animals go to RJ Tebarthen, Penryn for slaughter and are returned to a neighbouring farm that has the facilities for cutting and processing. The Burnetts did a butchery course with rural progress and employ a part-time butcher. Recipes were learnt from the Coventrys, experienced producers on the point of retirement and the products are now sold at Lostwithiel local produce market, weekly country market, Wadebridge, local delis and via their own shop at Lawndown near Truro. Future plans include supplying select local catering outlets and possibly markets in London. It is very much a family business and they cite 'consistent quality' as the key factor in their success.

Boddington Berries
Phil and Louise Boddington, Mevagissey, 01726 842346 www.boddingtonberries.co.uk

The Boddington family has grown strawberries on their 20 acre farm near Mevagissey since the end of WW2. Ever popular the season for soft fruit, though volatile has extended from April to September thanks to demand and new varieties of berry. However productions costs are high and competition from overseas is an ever-present threat. The variety used in the taste challenge was an old fashioned one named 'Honeoye', which has a dark red colour and intense flavour but doesn't keep as well as the 'Elsanta' type more commonly found on supermarket shelves. The real challenge is to get the fruit to the supermarkets in peak condition. Picking starts at 4.30am in June and deliveries often reach their destination the same day. Boddingtons has diversified since 2000 by making jams, wine, liqueur, vinegar and syrup and by increasing their direct sales.

Gobblers free range turkey
John and Valerie Parker, St Breward, 01208 850708
www.gobblers.biz

Despite the recent much publicised set backs in the turkey industry, Gobblers has ridden out the storm and are doing a roaring trade in year-round turkey products. Only 18 months ago the Parkers saw that there was a gap in the market and by making a quality range of products, they are gradually persuading people that white, 'slimy', pressed turkey meat is a thing of the past. Their flock of white and bronze turkeys are free-range and although Christmas sales peak at 6,000 birds, 1500 are kept for 22-26 weeks to supply the regular outlets at Trevathen farm shop near Port Isaac and the Camel Valley farm shop at St Kew. John said that they were quietly confident of the future and that quality, texture and taste came before anything. In his own words 'No white bits, no slime, no reclaims and no twizlers!'.

Cornish Orchards
Andy Atkinson, Liskeard, 01503 269007
www.cornishorchards.co.uk

A dairy farmer for 27 years, Andy, pressed his first apples in 1999 when he decided he needed a complete change in direction. With only 15 acres of orchard, apples are bought from across the Westcountry to meet demand and the range now includes a draught cider, which is marketed by Skinners Brewery, another Cornish company. From 'bag-in a box' to select juices, the integrity of the product is uppermost and his success in supplying well-known locations like National Trust properties, the Eden Project and Heligan Gardens is testament to its quality and provenance. Andy now employs 12 full and part-time people to meet the ever growing demand for this fantastic product.

Roskilly's Ltd
Toby Roskilly, Helston, 01326 280479
www.roskillys.co.uk

Well known for their ice cream and clotted cream fudge, Roskilly's now produce branded wholesale milk from their own herd of Jersey and Guernsey cows, supplemented by milk from two neighbouring organic farms. The idea is to create a year-round market for Roskilly's products and build on their own branding. Milk was the one product that people found hardest to distinguish the difference between organic and non-organic but Roskilly's still came out the winner.

Helsett Farm
Sarah Talbot Ponsonby, Boscastle, 01840 261713
www.helsettfarm.com

Helsett farm produce a range of organic ice cream on their farm having made the switch to organic and to Ayrshires at the same time a few years ago. Smoothies, a yoghurt based drink made with skimmed milk, are relatively new for them and they are busy extending the range of flavours, adding two just this week; both chocolate and freshmint especially for the show to make five in total. They supply local farm shops in Cornwall, the cheese shop in Truro and further afield several outlets in London including Neals Yard in Borough market. Four members of the family are directly involved in the business, plus one full-time and two part-time employees and they also employee seasonal staff. Helsett's strawberry smoothie was a popular success at the taste challenge with comments like 'tasted more fruity, 'better consistency' and 'the other one was just like thick milk', being recorded.

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Clare Morgan
Media Relations Manager
Objective One Partnership Office
Castle House
Pydar Street
Truro TR1 2UD
Mobile: 07973 813647
Telephone: 01872 223439

cmorgan@cornwall.gov.uk

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