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Caldecott’s is latest addition to Q Guild corporate flock

Corporate membership of the Butchers Q Guild continues to thrive, with free-range poultry producer Caldecott’s, of Wythall in Worcestershire, the latest business to be welcomed to the fold.Three generations of the Caldecott family have farmed in Wythall since Thomas Leslie Caldecott moved there with his family in 1933, where his sons, Les and Peter, identified an opportunity to grow turkeys for the Christmas market.

In the early 1990s, third generation family member Robert Caldecott resurrected the Caldecott Christmas turkey, initially producing 2,500 birds. Today, the company rears some 60,000 turkeys annually, along with 150,000 free-range chickens.

The “Robert Caldecott Celebration Turkey” range covers free-range bronze turkeys and white barn-reared birds, both available in 4kg to 16kg weight ranges and in either multi-boxes of two to four birds per box, or individually boxed. Turkey crown, butterfly and saddle also feature in the remit.

Free-range bronze turkeys roam freely on pastureland at Caldecott‘s 40-acre Worcestershire farm, while whites are raised in open pole barns. All turkeys are allowed to grow at a steady pace, producing the highest quality texture and flavor.

Chicken is marketed under the “Cotswold Free Range Chicken by Robert Caldecott” brand and comes by the case – naked, trussed or tray-wrapped. Chicken breast, legs and wings are also available, along with the “Robert Caldecott Celebration Cockerel” brand for Christmas tables in 2.5kg to 5.5kg weight ranges, either multi or individually boxed.

Cotswold White Chickens, a slow-growing breed specially chosen for traditional free-range production, are introduced as day-old chicks from Caldecott’s own brooder farm, then allowed to mature for 63 days, longer than the 56-day free-range minimum required by UK law. The company says this provides a wonderful texture and taste incomparable with mass-produced birds.

Animal welfare ethics and husbandry remain key elements of the business. “We are a compassionate, caring farming family who want only the very best for our birds. No growth promoters or additives are used, there is full traceability and a mix of modern and traditional methods guarantees the finest quality poultry,” explained Robert Caldecott.

The company’s EEC licensed poultry processing facility has been developed on a green field site over the past 15 years and complies with current legislation regularly audited by the SFA and accredited by SALSA.

Four years ago, Caldecott’s converted a four acre field into a conservation area, complete with 1.5 acre lake, reaffirming its commitment to the environment and wildlife. The company has this year been shortlisted for the Farmers Weekly Poultry Farmer of the Year Award.

Mr Caldecott said: “We have been keen to join the Butchers Q Guild for some time following a year-on-year increase in the number of Guild members we now supply. We are 100% supportive of the retail butcher and independent wholesaler and always will be.

“I believe that many Q Guild Butchers would benefit from a partnership with ourselves. A point in case is Q Guild member WH Frost Butchers in Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Manchester. They approached us in 2013 stating that year-on-year sales of turkey were dropping off because they were too expensive and they were finding it difficult to make a reasonable margin due to the high cost price.

“We offered them our individually boxed free-range bronze turkeys and after our first Christmas of trading with them I asked if they had managed to increase margins on turkey sales. The reply was: ‘yes we made a bit!’

“However, the main plus point was that their customers on average paid £15 per turkey less than the previous year. Their customer feedback was excellent on the quality of the turkey at a value for money price and the high standard of our packaging. Both Frosts and I hope that their turkey sales will increase year on year.”

Mr Caldecott added: “We decided many years ago which market sector we wanted to supply and unlike many other turkey farmers we do not offer farm gate sales or online purchase. With many businesses now offering online purchases, we have made a 100% commitment to our customers that we will only supply retailers direct whether purchasing from us or one of our appointed distributors.”

The Guild’s growing corporate membership now stands at 41-strong and all have access to the national membership of 116 award-winning independent butchers from the Scottish Highlands down to the south coast. This, too, is on the increase.

The Q Guild’s manager Gordon Newlands said: “We warmly welcome Caldecott’s to the Q Guild fold. The Guild is extremely well served by reputable poultry sector suppliers, who, like our butcher members, maintain a pedigree based on quality, customer service and value for money.”

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Christmas Food | Turkey & all the Trimmings