Friday October 2nd, 2020

Pipers Farm makes sustainability possible through partnership

Pictured: Peter Greig.

25 small farms marketed under one brand.

Ordering a Pipers Farm meat box from the comfort of your kitchen table directly supports small scale, sustainable farms in the south west of England. This is the message wrapped up with every home delivery of frozen meat from Pipers Farm founders, Peter and Henri Greig.

Pipers Farm began life 30 years ago from Peter and Henri’s family farm in Devon. The business is a modern-day story of David and Goliath and has since been referred to as a ‘hero’ by the Slow Food Movement. Harnessing the power of small to compete collaboratively under one brand, Pipers Farm matches big business competitors with a wide range of great tasting products, high quality marketing, next day delivery, ultimate convenience for customers and the reassurance that they are buying direct from the producer and sustaining a genuine local food culture.

The strength of the brand lies in size. Farming on a small scale enables truly sustainable produce and supports farming communities. Pipers Farm source from a jigsaw of 25 local farms which rear grass-fed, native breeds using traditional methods. “We believe in people and family farms,” says Peter speaking from Pipers HQ, “And we pay a fair price to our producers from which we never waver.”

Peter and Henri believed right from the start that control of every detail was essential. “We act as a funnel for our farms before presenting the fruits of their labour to the market place. Our vision is control, from when the animal is alive down to every mouthful. Our primary job is to make a delicious product and we want to deliver maximum nutritional content,” says Peter.

The couple undertook meticulous research, “We learnt about the impact different activities on the farm have on a cut of meat in your mouth. From the start we had a frying pan in the cutting room and that frying pan dictated every decision we took,” says Peter.

“Most farmers don’t understand the dynamic of the high street. It is competitive and fast-moving,“ says Peter, “Our job is to focus on the sharp end, delivering the product to market so that the farmers can do what they do best and don’t need to market.”

Red Ruby cattle, native to Exmoor.

A consistent message is invaluable, “We haven’t sold beef for 30 years,” says Peter, “We’ve sold Grass Fed Red Ruby.” A farmer’s son, Peter has entrepreneurialism in his veins, “In 1953, my dad brought over broiler chicken production from the US to sell originally through the family chain of food shops and then in the 1970s and 80s, through a well-known high street chain,” says Peter, “I said to dad, your chickens are awful, and he said, yes, they might be, but they are consistent. Consistency is king on the high street and fundamental to the path of any brand.”

Initially, Peter and Henri were lone voices, “People thought we were nuts and very weird,” he says, “However, over the last few years, things have begun to change and there is a real buzz. The conversations we were having 30 years ago are becoming more widely accepted and understood.”

In 2016, Peter tackled the decline in high street retail by closing their Exeter St Leonards farm shop of 23 years. “We deliver through digital now and the whole of the UK has become our marketplace,” says Peter, whose enthusiasm is infectious, “We’re on the verge of a food delivery revolution which offers convenience beyond any other kind of shopping.”

Peter encourages digital retail, “The opportunities are enormous,” he says, “Know your customer. Understand exactly what the demand is for. Engage with your community boldly, with vision and look for novel and exciting ways to farm, working to your strengths but at the same time, looking to work in partnership with others. For example, if marketing/customer interface is not for you, seek out a partner with whom to develop a collaborative relationship.”

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Categories: Marketing inspiration. Tags: beef, Devon, family farm, local food, organic, small-scale producers and sustainable production.
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