The Isle of Skye is recognised globally as an island of natural beauty with strong agricultural, crofting, culture and heritage connections attracting tens of thousands of visitors each year. The number of sheep grazing in the North West of Scotland has fallen dramatically since 1999 with some areas seeing a reduction of between 35 and 60%.
Skye crofters approached SAC Consulting Food and Drink to help explore and create new markets for mutton, a product which used to be a staple in the highlands and islands. SAC Consulting Food and Drink, along with the local SAC Consulting office on Skye, interviewed a range of hotels, restaurants and catering outlets to establish potential market demand for mutton, and the economic feasibility of supplying mutton during the peak tourist season. The research project, funded by the Rural Innovation Support Service, culminated with a showcasing dinner prepared and presented by Michelin star chef Scott Davies and 15 students at West Highland College to over 100 stakeholders in the Isle of Skye Tourism, Food and Drink, and Hospitality sector.
During the project, SAC Consulting Food and Drink helped local crofters to identify potential routes to market for their sheep, and introduced them to buyers, restauranteurs and chefs at the Skye Connect Food and Drink networking event in November 2018. SAC Consulting are continuing to keep in touch with both crofters and members of Skye Connect to maximise future opportunities following the event. This is likely to involve the launch of a cooperative mutton group on Skye to supply mutton directly to Isle of Skye restaurants and catering outlets.
“I was very impressed with the work done by Calum Johnston and Janette Sutherland on Skye Mutton project through RISS. Calum took the time to understand our area and the market conditions. The way information was gathered, project set up with a view to longevity and covering all basis, was incredibly professional and most importantly tailored to the local area rather than relying on a generic template. The output and outcomes of the project are clear and make the next stages easier to begin.” Jake Sayles (NFUS Skye & Lochalsh).