Behind the scenes at Pig & Co in Goostrey
PUBLISHED: 00:00 10 October 2013
After major surgery, former advertising executive Julian Price has put his heart and soul into a new venture and he’s as happy as a pig in muck
Julian Price was once outstanding in the field of advertising, now he’s more likely to be found simply out, standing in a field. He’s no slouch here either though and the pigs he has been keeping on the land around his Goostrey home for the last 18 months or so have already helped him win a larder full of awards.
After 20 years in advertising Julian suffered a heart attack and needed a triple bypass operation and a change of lifestyle.
‘They thought I wasn’t going to make it,’ he said. ‘You can’t abuse your body in the way I did and get away with it. It was pretty clear I needed a new direction. I used to go to bed at 4am, now I’m getting up then and although I do miss advertising, I love what I’m doing now more than anything.’
He and his family had recently moved into a Grade Two listed 15th century farmhouse which came with about 12 acres and they had plans to live the good life.
‘We were going to grow veg and keeping a pig and a goat,’ he said. ‘There was no intention of doing anything commercial. But we got a couple of pigs and found we really liked them – both looking after them and eating them.’
The seed was sown and Julian, and his teenage son Richard, were hooked on rare breed pigs. Having started with just a couple of pigs, they now have ten breeding sows - Gloucester Old Spots and Saddlebacks – and have plans to expand the herd to around 30 breeding sows by the end of this year. Richard has now trained as a butcher and the family have taste tested scores of sausage recipes in their quest for the best banger.
Julian added: ‘In all my work at the advertising agency I would advise clients to really make sure they got their product right, so I listened to my own advice and was determined to get the product right and I did a lot of research into the pigs’ diet and welfare standards.
‘From the start I was clear that the pigs would be free range and we would keep them to the highest care standards imaginable. It was obvious to us early on that people would not pay a huge premium for animal welfare but they will pay for something that tastes really good.
‘We started with six flavours of sausage and we now have 25. At the end of our first year we looked at what had gone well and what had not gone so well and we found that the sausages were by far and away the most popular thing we did and they were what we were becoming known for.’
Pig & Co sausages, which are all gluten-free (‘That wasn’t necessarily our intention, it’s simply because we don’t put any rubbish in them’) are now on the menu in gastro pubs across Cheshire and they are in talks with supermarkets – both local and national – about stocking their range too.
They have also collected scores of accolades, including prizes from Taste Cheshire, FreeFrom and three of their sausages were given stars at this year’s Great Taste Awards.
‘I have been astonished by the success we have had,’ added Julian, who is working on a book of sausage recipe ideas. ‘We’re only just over one year old and have now won several national awards. It’s amazing.
‘We believe these awards will really help to drive our range and distribution and, ultimately, our growth in our second year. For us, it’s all about getting the product right first and we think these awards show that we are doing just that.’
Five fancy flavours
These Pig & Co creations aren’t just any old bangers. For the full range go to piganco.com
Figgy Piggy, flavoured with juicy figs and crunchy walnuts
Blackden Moles, sausages with chocolate, chilli and a hint of lime
Hey Pesto, highly commended at the 2013 FreeFrom awards, they include feta cheese, pine nuts, basil and sundried tomatoes
Mango Masala, a new addition to the range, with garam masala with mango chutney
Sizzling Sugarbush, flavoured with maple syrup and fenugreek. Winner of the best flavoured sausage prize at the Taste Cheshire awards this year