Goat burgers? Yes, in Spar Llanrwst! Tastings in-store this Saturday.

07 May 2015

Healthy, local and a little different! Spar leads the way…

Not many people know that the Spar chain in the Conwy County area, - Llanrwst, Rhos on Sea, Penmaenmawr and Llanfairfechan,  - is independently owned and ran by a local man, entrepreneur Justin McIlveen. And supporting local producers is high on the agenda of this family run business. 

 

“For me local sourcing of products is a passion.” Explains Justin “Whether these products are locally grown, baked, brewed, reared or harvested from the sea, they are all welcome in our stores.  These products are nurtured by the producer and so quality is of a much higher standard than mass production.”
 

Justin has been in the business for over 20 years, but recently he was taken by surprise being approached by a new local company Conwy Goat Meat – Cig Gafr Conwy to sell their goats meat at the store.

 

A year ago Eifion Roberts, of Conwy Goat Meat decided to try something different on the 300-acre farm Ffrith Newydd, Trofarth, which Eifion and partner Leah Hughes farms with his brother Geraint. He now has a herd of a 100 goats including this year’s kids, and is able to maintain year-round product of succulent goat meat.

 

“It has been an interesting and busy first year,” said Eifion. “We have had to educate people about goat meat, although nearly 70% of all meat eaten in the world each day is goats meat, it does not have a stronghold in Wales and the rest of the UK – yet!  But we started with Llanrwst! And we have also decided that we will introduce the meat to all our stores.”

 

Goat meat is low in cholesterol, high in iron and, surprisingly, has less fat than chicken.

As a result it is often touted as an ideal meat for the health conscious, with a taste lying somewhere between lamb and beef.

So far Ffrith Newydd’s Boer Goats have exceeded all expectations. “They are easy to manage and are very friendly,” said Eifion.

“We do find that, initially, people are a little hesitant,” Eifion smiles “It’s not something they are used to.

“But once they’ve tried it, there’s no going back – they love the taste.”

 

To get the business off the ground, Conwy Goat Meat received help from Cywain, Menter a Busnes the food added value project which is helping the company develop new markets and products.

 

Nia Môn Development Manager explains “We’ve lookedforward to seeing the Conwy Goat Meat at Spar and it’s now excellent news that Justin is going to  take the meat to the coastal shops as well.  We are also helping Conwy Goat develop beautiful goat meat sausages to add to the range it’s an excellent way to add value to primary produce.  But this weekend, we’re looking forward to serving up some burgers and receiving customer feedback.”  

 

Of course Justin will always try before he supplies!  Eifion and Leah took him some samples to help him understand the product.

“I was really surprised to be honest” explains Justin “but I tried it with an open mind. It just tastes like lamb to me and whilst I still enjoy my welsh lamb, it is nice to know that there is a healthier option out there, especially for anyone suffering with high cholesterol.

 

I had grilled goat chops with mint sauce and last night made a stew with diced goat. As I try not to eat too many carbs (Justin is a keen cyclist & fell runner) I just chucked the diced goat in the slow cooker with pearl barley, lentils, carrots, leeks, celery and salt & pepper (dash of curry powder) and topped up with a lot of water. Lovely! It is just as versatile a meat as lamb. I’m looking forward to tasting the burgers next which my children have already sampled, and loved them.”

Justin McIlveen runs the Spar chain with the help of his wife Sara. It is a truly family business with many family members involved and his general manager Phil Griffiths has been with him for 20 years.

He also employ a further 70 staff members from the local areas. “Though we trade under the symbol fascia of Spar we are not a franchise, we are independent, the traditional village shop, or Siop-y-Llan as we say in Wales.  

 

“Supporting our local farmers and producers is a passion. It is about giving back to the area, boosting the local economy, sourcing locally, reducing food miles, giving tourists a real taste of Wales. This is really only achievable if people support their local businesses thus adding more need for further employment within those businesses.”

 

Siwgr a Sbeis, Edwards of Conwy, Llaeth y Llan, Belmont farm, Blas ar Fwyd, Snowdonia cheese, Tan Lan Bakery, Marilyns Pies to name but a few are local companies stocked at his store. 

 

 “Its great offering our product to customers on our own home patch,” added Justin. “And we’re thrilled that it’s proving so popular we’re taking them to all stores.”  If you want to try something different, healthy and tasty pop over for some goats meat today!

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