Lanarkshire cattle from paddock plate

Cattle Call

Key trends such as nose-to-tail eating and traceability have been good for business at Lanarkshire meat wholesaler MacDuff

Andrew Duff of Wishaw-based wholesale butchers MacDuff boastfully describes the fourth-generation family firm's meat as 'the Rolls Royce of Scottish beef'. Insofar as it's possible to enjoy every last part of their flagship product from bumper to bumper, he sort of has a point.

'We've recently seen a trend towards more restaurants employing their own butcher or having butchery capabilities on-site,' says Duff on the subject of the nose-to-tail cooking movement, something they've done well to tap into by selling whole carcasses. 'It means not only cost savings,' he continues, 'but also that they're able to offer a much wider range of cuts to their customers.' This year, it has helped MacDuff win Scotch Brand Product of the Year at the 2018 Scotland Food & Drink Excellence Awards.

'It's been good for business,' Duff acknowledges, 'and we're now working with a number of top chefs and restaurants who are promoting our beef on social media and also on their menus. We offer full traceability which is key to this market and it also ties in with the whole farm-to-fork ethos which we're also keen to support.'

MacDuff source their cattle from a small selection of trusted farms in the Scottish Lowlands and Borders, choosing only high-end breeds such as Charolais, Limousin and Aberdeen Angus cross, all of them under 30 months of age. 'There's a move back to more traditional breeds right now,' says Duff. 'We're happy with that.'

Their prime cuts are matured on the bone to ensure tenderness, and their sides hang for a minimum of four days prior to cutting. They sell to high-end butchers and caterers across Scotland, England and beyond, with Andrew and his son Rory Duff hand-picking all the meat for customers every morning.

The key to a particularly good cow? A bit of rough. 'We only buy cattle that have been grass fed,' Duff explains. 'This natural diet is supplemented with root crops and grass silage. Cattle must have roughage to ruminate. That's good for their guts. In turn it affects the taste.'