Melissa Whitington, Hebridean Charcuterie
Salami and cured meats made from animals reared or roaming in the Outer Hebrides are set to be a top choice on menus and in shops after a new charcuterie business received vital support and 1:1 advice from Business Gateway.
Stornoway-based Hebridean Charcuterie from Croft No.9, launched by Brian and Melinda Whitington, started selling their first product ‘Wild & Free Salami’ in March thanks to the grant support and advice from the organisation which helps fledgling businesses get off the ground.
It is believed that the charcuterie business - the culinary art of preparing products such as salami and cured meats - is the first of its kind in the Islands.
Derek Maclean, Business Gateway, said: “Brian and Melinda identified an opportunity to launch not only the first charcuterie in the Outer Hebrides but a company that is mindful about its impact on the environment. For customers and businesses, they present an exciting offering that everyone will enjoy.”
Hebridean Charcuterie Salami
The company’s first product ‘Wild & Free Salami’ is made with local free-range pork produced on crofts and uses venison and goose meat – helping in the control of deer and geese numbers on the Islands, which can cause damage to the land if left unchecked.
The couple have also trialled an aromatically spiced sheep meat salami which they hope to formally launch later in the year.
Brian said: “I always wanted to start my own business, and I felt that I had the skills and expertise to launch the first charcuterie in the Outer Hebrides, using meats from crofters and wild animals.
“Business Gateway has been vital throughout this process and provided valuable advice about funding as well as support with my business plan. Their help meant that I was able to invest in equipment and cover a lot of the initial costs associated with launching the business.
“I’m also grateful for the support and advice of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar’s Environmental Health and Trading Standards department.”
Talking about their journey to launch the business Melinda explained: “We had to overcome a number of hurdles including converting what was once an unused garage at the back of our house into a salami kitchen at the height of the COVID crisis, Business Gateway has been vital to us with their on-tap advice, as well as financial support.”
Business Gateway helped the couple develop their business plan through a dedicated adviser, who offered guidance on funding options and aided them in the application to access grant funding, resulting in an award of £1,250 through the Outer Hebrides Young Entrepreneurs Fund (OHYESS), fully funded by Highlands and Islands Enterprise and delivered by Business Gateway.
This supported investment in a mincer, slicer, sausage stuffer and fridges so that the enterprise could meet professional requirements.
Additionally, through the continued direction from Business Gateway, Brian and Melinda were also awarded a further grant of £2,331 through the Comhairle’s COVID-19 Economic Recovery Grant Scheme (CERGS). This gave them the ability to buy an additional fridge and cool boxes to transport meat for production.
Brian added: “As the first charcuterie business of our kind in the Outer Hebrides we aim to stock up to 50 local businesses with our locally produced wild and free salami. We are also proud of our no plastic packaging, electric vehicle transport and ultra energy efficient equipment, ensuring our impact on the environment is minimal. Our products can be found on our website Hebridean Charcuterie (Opens in a new window or downloads a file).”
With sales taking off the couple are now looking to the next steps and expansion, helped by Business Gateway’s one-to-one advice on HR and hiring staff.
Derek said, “Ultimately, starting up a business is an investment and initial set-up costs can be expensive. However, by working closely with Business Gateway, Brian and Melinda were able to develop their business idea and secure funding to purchase equipment. We look forward to continuing to work with Hebridean Charcuterie as they grow their business and expand their team.”
To find out more about Business Gateway and its services, please visit their website (Opens in a new window or downloads a file).