Bidfresh launches Countrywide Butchers to Make Meat a Treat

January 2019

Chefs can maximise the potential of meat on the menu while still catering for customers looking to reduce their consumption, says hospitality fresh produce specialist Bidfresh.

The business is launching a new national brand for its premium meat range, Countrywide Butchers, and is using National Butchers Week, which runs from 11-17 March, to spotlight the wide range of meat and added value services available to chefs.

Stephen Oswald CEO of Bidfresh, said, “We’re very proud to launch Countrywide Butchers, enabling us to bring the finest quality meat and the skills of our specialist catering butchers to chefs on a nationwide basis.”

The new brand brings together products and expertise from the four regional specialist butchers within the group – Campbell Brothers, Henson Meats, Knight Meats and Williams of Flint – to supply national accounts. These businesses already work with over 2500 chefs in hotels, restaurants, pubs and other catering business across the UK.

As well as the hospitality industry’s widest choice of sustainably-sourced meat and game, services also include preparation by specialist butchers to customer specifications, along with cooking information, menu consultancy and a range of additional support.

Laurence Tottingham, Development Chef for Oliver Kay Produce, sister company of Countrywide Butchers and part of the Bidfresh group, says, “The trend towards consumers eating less meat, especially amongst the younger demographic, has been well publicised and we know from conversations with our customers that many chefs in hotels, restaurants and pubs are looking at ways to address this issue.

“We’re using National Butchers Week and the launch of the Countrywide Butchers brand to help our customers focus on the positives. For consumers taking a ‘flexitarian’ approach to their diet, meat becomes more of a treat, and so we can help chefs emphasise the premium quality of the meat on their menu.

“Sustainability and animal welfare are issues for many consumers. We work with trusted, approved suppliers to source a variety of local, UK, EU and Red Tractor approved ranges of meats, as well as being members of the Ethical Trading Initiative.”

Advice from Countrywide Butchers to make the most of meat includes:

• Make meat a treat for customers by highlighting premium products on menus and specials boards, such as Henson’s renowned salt beef, Campbell Brothers’ Buccleuch Beef steaks, and speciality game, charcuterie and offal;

• Buy the best quality meat you can. Countrywide Butchers has in-house dry ageing facilities at each of their local sites, enabling butchery customers to specify the exact length of ageing they require to suit their tastes;

• Use the whole animal – nose to tail. Specialist butchers can prepare the animal, advising customers how to utilise all parts effectively on the menu;

• Cuts pre-prepared by specialist butchers add value for customers, minimise food waste, and add profit to meat dishes.

Tottingham will be running classes spotlighting sous vide cookery techniques in London on 20 February and Bolton on 13 March, and will also be hosting a class at Henson Meats in London to coincide with National Butchers Week. He says, “Whether it’s meat, vegan or other specialist menu areas such as seafood or a premium cheeseboard, hospitality operators are having to work harder than ever to attract customers in the challenging eating out market, and as a premium food supplier we’re working closely with our customers to help them keep their menus competitive.”

Chefs can sign up for classes through their account manager or by emailing

Hogs Back Brewery to build new hop kiln


Traditional kiln completes Tongham brewer’s £700,000 investment

Hogs Back Brewery is building a new hop kiln on the brewery site at Manor Farm in Tongham, Surrey as the brewery continues its significant investment programme.

This large-scale project is believed to be the first traditional style kiln to be constructed in the county for over 100 years. It will cost £350,000 to complete, taking total investment in the brewery and hop garden over the last 12 months to £700,000.

The kiln, which will be operational ahead of Hogs Back’s harvest in September, is being built just yards from their brewhouse and their new, much larger hop garden. It will stand on the site occupied for many years by an original kiln within Manor Farm and will be used to dry Hogs Back’s hops for around one month a year. For the rest of the year, it will serve as an event space and visitor centre, educating people about the local hop farming industry which Hogs Back is helping to revive.

Siting the kiln so close to the hop garden and picking machine means hops can be dried immediately after picking. Hogs Back is also investing in state-of-the-art vacuum packing technology to capture the hops’ freshness, with the aim of having them packed within 24 hours of picking. Once packed, hops will be stored in optimum conditions in a new warehouse, to be housed in a converted barn on the farm.

Hogs Back Brewery managing director Rupert Thompson said, “A £700,000 investment, at a time of some uncertainty in the beer market, speaks volumes for our long-term commitment to brewing in Surrey.

“Hogs Back is the biggest hop-growing brewer in the UK and this expansion with the larger hop garden and new kiln will make us an even more sustainable, environmentally-conscious business: our hops will be travelling from field to firkin in just a furlong (220 yards).  Combined with our new vacuum packaging facility, it means we will have the freshest, best quality hops, which in turn ensures consistently top quality and flavour for our beers.”

He added, “Hogs Back is one of a growing number of ‘farm brewers’ in the UK; brewers who have been founded on a rural, farming heritage that gives them a deep understanding of the ingredients used in brewing. We believe there is a swathe of craft beer drinkers who relate to our values of authenticity and local community.”

Hogs Back’s new hop garden occupies 8.5 acres of prime farmland on Manor Farm, and work started last autumn to prepare it for the 2019 growing season, with anchors, posts and several miles of hop wire now in place. 2,000 hop plants were lifted from the old garden and a further 4,000 new ones planted. Three varieties are being grown on the new site: Fuggles, Cascade and Farnham White Bine.

Thompson said, “We are excited about continuing the journey we started with the planting of our original hop garden in 2014, and, through the new visitor centre, sharing our passion for hop growing with the wider community.

“Growing our own hops has made us better brewers, as with each harvest we’ve learned more about how the flavour of the hops is affected by the weather, and how that then impacts the quality and taste of the beer. It has also drawn us closer to the local rural community and its history, and gives us a unique opportunity to accentuate the provenance and quality of our beers.”

To view a short film showing Rupert Thompson with a graphic representation of the investment at the brewery, including the new kiln, visit



Support your Local – Go TEATOTAL, says Hogs Back Brewery

January 2019

Hogs Back Brewery is encouraging consumers to kick off 2019 by going ‘TEA Total’ and enjoying a pint of its flagship beer TEA (Traditional English Ale) in their local pub during January.

The ‘Support Your Local – Go TEA Total’ message will appear on pump clips and posters in pubs as well as on social media. The campaign reminds people that pubs are a great place to meet friends and enjoy a locally brewed beer all year round.

Rupert Thompson, managing director of Surrey-based Hogs Back Brewery, said, “Our TEA Total campaign is a little tongue-in-cheek, but also has a serious message behind it. Pubs are an important part of the community, and they particularly need support during January, which has always been a quiet month for the trade and become even quieter since the arrival of Dry January.

“Equally, we’re encouraging people to enjoy a locally-brewed beer or two in moderation, even if it’s just once or twice during January. This can be a difficult time of year for many people; a pint shared with a friend in the pub is an important way of countering social isolation, and contributes to our overall well-being.”

Thompson added, “TEA is an exceptionally well-balanced beer and the TEA Total campaign is about getting the balance right. Our poster features a checklist that encourages people to be moderate in all things, whether that’s visiting the gym, starting a diet or enjoying a pint of local ale!”

A specially brewed seasonal ale, Rye January, is also available from Hogs Back. At 3.8% ABV, it’s a red rye beer with spicy and hoppy notes. It will be stocked in a number of pubs across Hogs Back’s Surrey heartlands.

Any licensees wanting to stock Hogs Back’s TEA and receive ‘Go TEA Total’ posters and pump clip wobblers should contact

Drinkaware and Asda partner on in-store alcohol education days

January 2019


Alcohol education charity Drinkaware and retail giant ASDA are teaming up again in 2019 for a partnership that will see Drinkaware ambassadors going into 100 stores across the UK on 11th and 18th January to give shoppers information and advice about alcohol.

This will be the third year of the initiative, which last year saw in-store Drinkaware ambassadors engage with almost 7,000 Asda customers.

This year, the Drinkaware ambassadors will be giving out printed literature and encouraging customers to record their drinking levels; in 50 stores, customers will use a scratchcard while in the other 50, ambassadors will help them to fill in the online Drinkaware DrinkCompare Calculator, which will analyse their current drinking and compare it to others in the same age group.

Drinkaware has also trained Asda community champions, as a way of taking the messages about drinking in moderation out to the wider community through their work with local groups.

Rommel Moseley, Drinkaware Director of Business Development & Partnerships, said, “Working together with ASDA for the past three years has enabled Drinkaware to get out into their stores across the country and work with people face-to-face. 

“The advice and information that Drinkaware provides is invaluable to the many people looking to make changes to their own or a family member’s drinking habits in January, and we know that the Drinkaware ambassadors in Asda will help many customers to make positive changes and reduce their risk of alcohol harm.”

Chris Lowe, Senior Director for Corporate Affairs at Asda, said: “We are pleased to be working with Drinkaware again this year, as part of our role as a responsible retailer, helping them to engage directly with our customers. 

“Customer insight shows that more people think about their health in January, and look for ways to cut back on their alcohol consumption after the festive period, so this opportunity to receive accessible, friendly advice and support comes at just the right time.”


Caption: the Drinkaware Ambassador at Asda’s store in Glasshoughton, West Yorkshire, in January 2018, with a customer and local MP Yvette Cooper, one of many MPs who visited their local store to see the Drinkaware activity. MPs are being invited to engage with the campaign again this year.


Oliver Kay expands sustainable packaging

January 2019

Hospitality greengrocer Oliver Kay Produce is helping its customers to reduce waste with a new sustainability initiative making 80% of its packaging recyclable. The business, which supplies fresh fruit and veg to more than 3,500 chefs around the UK, is also converting waste produce from its warehouses into compost.

Oliver Kay has become the first catering greengrocer to replace polystyrene trays used to deliver produce with compostable trays made from sugarcane, and plastic nets for fruit with compostable netting made from beechwood. It has also introduced 100% recyclable plastic wrap for its deliveries.

The business, part of the Bidfresh group, has installed an automatic screw press process in its Bolton warehouse, which removes the water from fruit and vegetable waste to reduce the density of the load by 90%, leaving only organic waste behind. The resulting compost can be collected by farmers delivering goods to Oliver Kay, to use on the fields growing the veg.

“A business of this type and size obviously generates packaging and food waste,” says Paul Leyland, Commercial & Sustainability Director for Oliver Kay. “Deliveries come in to us in cardboard boxes, and we then separate and re-pack to send out to our customers.” Oliver Kay receives the equivalent of 10,000kg of cardboard boxes each day across its three sites, “and through our strict quality standards and prep department we produce approximately 2.5 tonnes of food waste each day.”

In addition to the larger projects in the warehouse, paper and plastic waste used in offices is being separated and recycled, while re-useable drinks containers for staff have removed the need for plastic water bottles. In addition, some surplus produce is donated to local charities and organisations.

The next step will be to upgrade the biodegradable plastic bags used to deliver produce such as peppers and spring cabbage, to a fully compostable or recyclable option.
Leyland adds, “Our aim has always been to minimise our waste, and reuse or recycle any that we do have. The big task is to ensure all our outward bound packaging also causes no environmental damage. Plastic bags are the last item we need to address on the packaging front.”

Stephen Oswald CEO of Bidfresh, said, “Paul’s enthusiasm and drive to get this project in place has been an example to all in our business and the wider foodservice community. We will be taking his example and rolling it out across the rest of our organisation. We must ensure that all our packaging is compostable in the future”.

Celebrate Christmas with a local beer, says Hogs Back Brewery

December 2018

Hogs Back Brewery is encouraging beer lovers to give both themselves and their local brewer a Christmas bonus by enjoying locally brewed beers across the festive season.

The brewery, based in Tongham, Surrey, has decked the halls and rolled out the barrel as it prepares to welcome both year-round and once-a-year regulars to the Brewery Shop.

Rupert Thompson, managing director of Hogs Back Brewery, said, “Just as people who shop at the supermarket all year round will buy their Christmas turkey from the local Farm Shop or Farmer Market, we also a see an upturn in customers supporting their local brewer during the festive season.

“Thanks to our hop garden, which we’re almost tripling in size, we’re very much a part of the local farming community. Beer is an artisan product made from natural ingredients, and an essential part of the Christmas tradition in Britain.

“The festive break will be a long haul this year, with many people celebrating from the weekend before Christmas right through to the New Year, and we certainly think there’s scope to ring the changes and swap a bottle of plonk for beers matched to festive fare on some occasions across the holiday.

“Our seasonal beer Advent Ale, 4.4% ABV, has wonderful smoky and roasted malt flavour, with a rich dark chocolate aftertaste, and should definitely be enjoyed in front of a roaring fire with a mince pie or two.”

For Christmas food and drink matching, Thompson suggests:

• Smoked salmon matched with Hogstar English Craft Lager (4.5% ABV): Brewed with five different hops and a blend of botanicals and matured for a month, Hogstar has a depth of flavour and natural carbonation that work well with smoked salmon or other seasonal seafood dishes;

• Christmas dinner matched with TEA (4.2% ABV): Refreshing but robust, the malty flavour of Hogs Back Brewery’s flagship ale makes it the perfect partner to a turkey dinner with all the trimmings;

• Christmas pudding with OTT (6% ABV): This strong, dark beer was enjoyed by the British Guild of Beer Writers at their 2018 annual awards dinner served with sticky toffee pudding. Its distinctive, complex aromas and taste make OTT an ideal pairing with rich desserts;

• Festive buffet with Outback Pale Ale (4.5% ABV): The refreshing light and hoppy flavours make Outback a great drink to serve with sausage rolls, creamy vol-au-vents, pork pies and other buffet food.

At its most popular time of year for visitors, Hogs Back is offering additional brewery tours in December, while Christmas Eve will feature carols with the Friary Brass Band from 11.30am – 1pm, with mince pies for all. With extended opening hours in the run up to Christmas, the Brewery Shop is a great one stop shop for festive beer, with knowledgeable staff on hand to offer advice, and free parking outside.

See the website for details and opening hours.

Caption to attached image: The Hogs Back Brewery team ready to welcome customers to the brewery this Christmas. Pictured left to right are Donna Wilson, Joel Swan, Kane McAdoo and Jonathon Mileman.