From the field to your fork

Anthony and John Gornall, owners of Honeywells Meats
Anthony and John Gornall, owners of Honeywells Meats
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With the horse meat scandal still under the spotlight, CHARLOTTE WAREING talks to one Preston farmer about his meat supply

Just 20 miles is all it takes for some of Lancashire’s finest beef to get from the field to your fork.

While the horse meat scandal continues, local farmers say they can trace every step in the short chain of their prize food – compared to the thousands of miles it takes some of the products involved in the horse meat scandal to reach our shores.

Established in the 1970s by the Gornall family, Honeywell’s maintain their own cattle supply and serve it over the counter at two shops – one in Woodplumpton and one in Barton Grange.

John, who runs the business with brother Anthony and their wives Sue and Susan, says the process means they know exactly what is in the products they sell.

John said: “The business was established by my parents and we are still buying from many of the same people they did, sometimes third generations of the same family. It means we have a mutual trust with farmers in the area.

“We have a farm ourselves with our own beef unit. As well as that, we also buy part-grown animals from a farmer’s co-operative auction in Garstang where we can take a look at the cattle.

“All these animals have got full traceability from when they were born.” Part-grown animals are then given a mixture of hay and wheat, so the Gornalls know exactly what is in the food they are going to sell, before the animals are sent to a local slaughter house and come back in carcass form.

John said: “It is about as short a food chain as it is possible to get.

“You hear about the distances things like Findus lasagne has come from and it’s no wonder their traceability loses its integrity.

“When we get the meat back, we can then mature the steaks for 28 days – it doesn’t just arrive in bags from France.

“We have a system where we then track the animal through our systems and it all ends up on our food labels, so we can pass the knowledge on to the customer.

“We follow it from field to the fork.”

The firm supply people within a 50-mile radius of Preston, and the meat is always sourced from within 20 miles.

They also supply local pubs, restaurants, and hotels.

But buying quality doesn’t always have to mean spending a fortune.

John said: “What we try to do is we cut out the wholesale so it saves us some money.

“We are able to get the best animal and we pay a premium but then we are able to pass it on to our customers for very reasonable prices.

“We try to price competitively with supermarkets. It’s a bit of a no-brainer for us really.

“We have heard every horse meat joke that is circulating, but from a local butcher’s point of view it has been great.

“Customers are voting with their feet and we are at least 20 per cent up this year.

“More housewives are deciding to make their own lasagne and cottage pie.

“It’s not expensive, and it’s not hard.

“People are now deciding to go back to basics, and that is what we are all about.”