Diss beef on Tesco shelves

It began when Neville Kemp's wife bought him an Aberdeen Angus cow and calf for a birthday present more than 15 years ago.

It began when Neville Kemp's wife bought him an Aberdeen Angus cow and calf for a birthday present more than 15 years ago.

But the Norfolk farming family was celebrating last week after getting their beef products onto the shelves of Tesco supermarkets.

The commercial success for Mr Kemp, who has farmed at East Harling, near Thetford, for the last 30 years, comes after he switched to cattle rearing seven years ago as a result of the impact of swine fever, foot and mouth, and plummeting prices affecting the British pig industry.

The 53-year-old, who now owns one of the biggest Aberdeen Angus herds in the UK, spoke of his delight on Friday after his three varieties of beef pastries went on sale at 16 Tesco stores in East Anglia.

The launch at the supermarket's Diss store came three years after the former pig farmer came up with the idea of marketing his beef in a different way when he was selling cuts of Angus at farmers' markets across the region.

Mr Kemp said it had taken a lot of hard work and many different pastries and recipes involving his family, local butchers, bakers, and suppliers to get the final product into Tesco. He added that he hoped shoppers will support the local venture and that other farmers could be encouraged to seek supermarket contracts.

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'When I first started with cattle in 1996, I thought the future of beef production was going to be something with history and something with quality.'

'The sense of achievement from turning something on the farm and through lots of different processes to the finished product is absolutely great. It has been a real team effort and to be in Tesco stores is a huge achievement for everyone,' he said.

Hill House Farm received its first Aberdeen Angus cow and calf in 1993 and Mr Kemp began building up his pedigree herd three years later, which now numbers around 300. He turned his attentions solely on to beef in 2002 when he stopped rearing pigs.

The farmer used local expertise to get the meat from field to supermarket fridge, with his wife, Mary, who runs a cookery school at the East Harling farm and daughter, Gemma, a trained chef, designing the recipes for the pastries and son, Ben, who runs a design agency in Aylsham, designing the graphics for the packaging. The cows are slaughtered near Norwich, butchered at Attleborough, turned into pies at Stowmarket and baked and packaged at Otley College, near Suffolk.

Mrs Kemp added that it was 'absolutely brilliant' to see Tesco stocking the Aberdeen Angus products and it would be 'wonderful' if it was adopted by stores across the country.