and the Yorkshire Dales Meat Company
Just over a century ago, the Knox family began farming in Wensleydale, North Yorkshire. In the early 2000s following the BSE crisis, with cattle trade unsettled and waning confidence across the market, the Knox family were frustrated with the poor prices they were receiving for their high quality beef. “We decided to take things into our own hands and started selling direct at farmers’ markets to try and get a little more for the product we were producing” says James Knox, the company’s newly appointed managing director.
These were some of the first farmers’ markets in North Yorkshire, and after several years of trading successfully in this way, the opportunity arose to sell some of the farm buildings at Mill Close Farm (the home of Yorkshire Dales Meat Company) and build a 9000 square ft factory.
Soon after this, in 2014 they became Yorkshire Dales Meat Company and through intelligent use of their network of suppliers, began selling to local shops and delis, “before long we found ourselves branching out into catering butchery, selling a full range of produce”. Today they supply around 30 supermarkets in Leeds and the North-East, and of course the likes of Leeds Brewery.
“This is an example of what we love doing: linking up with our customers and working in partnership to create something special.”
The relationship with Leeds Brewery was ignited in 2011, when a chef made contact after stumbling across them. After quickly finding a way of working together effectively, this relationship has grown from strength to strength with Yorkshire Dales Meat supplying all of Leeds Brewery’s pubs. As well as choosing Yorkshire Dales Meat as a preferred supplier, the two companies have worked together by combining expertise and incorporating ale into sausages “I think that’s a great example of what we love doing: linking up with our customers and working in partnership to create something special.” James tells us.
This is very much the way that James and his company like to work. With over four decades of experience, they are in the best possible position to advise companies like Leeds Brewery and our chefs on subjects such as menu development. Helping their customers to understand what works and sells is all just part of the service for them “It’s absolutely vital that our service and delivery are slick enough for chefs to be able to focus on what they do best without having to worry about the meat not arriving on time or not being prepared to their requirements.”
The meat provided to Leeds Brewery either comes from cattle, born and reared on the mill Close Farm itself or from their trusted network of local suppliers, “that we have worked with since the very first days of Yorkshire Dales Meat” explains James. “We communicate on a day-to-day basis, talking through seasonality and supply to ensure we are sourcing as well as we possibly can.” With agriculture playing such a vital part in Yorkshire, this network of high quality suppliers is not hard to come by.
“The climate in Yorkshire is ideal for rearing cattle and sheep; it is some of the best livestock farming country in the UK.”
Yorkshire Dales Meat breed their own cattle on the farm. At around 10 months of age, calves are weaned and then matured on a diet of barley in an open-sided farm-shed. The cattle is then sent to a local abattoir to be humanely slaughtered and delivered back to the farm. After the meat is matured, it is butchered by hand into the various cuts and then steaked into the correct size, packaged and delivered.
For James, nothing beats a Yorkshire reared rump steak; an honest, simple food which represents the product of over a century of hard work for Yorkshire Dales Meat Company and it remains a rare pleasure to serve their high quality, locally sourced meat from our kitchen. LB