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28.06.06
Launch of first Cornish duck farm

Left to right: Tanya Dalton, Nigel Tabb, Graham Woolcock and Roger OlverA brand new business has been launched in Cornwall, rearing and supplying duck to high quality restaurants. The Cornish Duck Company is the only commercial duck farm in the Duchy and can already list two Michelin starred restaurants amongst its customers.

Whilst setting up the company, Roger Olver and his partner Tanya Dalton received help and support from Business Link enabling them to buy equipment for the meat processing unit and to adapt existing facilities on their farm at St Stephen near St Austell. Business Link's Food and Drink Programme also helped fund a 'business mentor' to provide them with advice on the business and marketing plan.

The company aim to rear the unique breed of ducks as free range, although as a precaution against bird 'flu scares, farm buildings have been converted to enable them to enclose the birds if necessary.

Manager of Business Link Devon and Cornwall's Food and Drink Programme, Graham Woolcock said the business' strength lies in the successful identification of a niche market. "After talking to local chef Nigel Tabb, Roger and Tanya realised that there were no facilities in Cornwall for breeding and supplying local duck. Food sustainability issues and demand for high quality local produce is something which is now vitally important to the food industry, so from the start, the product is entering a very receptive market.

"The great thing about the Cornish Duck Company in particular, is that there is absolutely zero food miles involved in the production of the meat. The ducks are bred, hatched, reared and processed on the farm and so the only travel which takes place is the final transportation of the meat to the customer – it's the perfect scenario."

The Cornish Duck Company currently supplies whole duck and duck portions to quality restaurants in Cornwall and Roger said they have no plans for mass expansion: "We want the 'Cornish Duck' brand to be associated with a select, quality product. In the future we would like to see it being served up in top restaurants throughout the country but we have no plans for supplying shops or supermarkets.

"We are also interested in broadening its appeal, with the development of some new products like duck eggs, smoked duck breast, duck burgers and sausages, which would be excellent for good food pubs. We are very fortunate to be joined by Joseph Smith who has brought with him his knowledge of ducks and skills of processing and Ben Beagley who attends to the day to day rearing. This gives Tanya time to concentrate on the hatchery and bookwork while I can attend to the sales, delivery and promotion side of the business."

Roger continued: "It has been a complete change of direction from my previous line of work as an agricultural contractor and setting up production from scratch has been very hectic, but we have had excellent support from Business Link. They have been absolutely superb throughout; in fact there were times when I think we may have given up if it hadn't been for their encouragement. The business has obviously benefited from the input of outside expertise but on a personal level, it has been a real help to have someone to turn to for advice and moral support when things get tough."

'Cornish Duck', with its unique flavour, is now being served at a number of restaurants in Cornwall, including Tabbs and Saffron Restaurants, Truro, St Ervan Manor, Padstow, The Abbey, Penzance and Fifteen Cornwall at Watergate Bay. The Cornish Duck Company will also be exhibiting at the Cornwall Food and Drink Festival, Lemon Quay in Truro from 29th September – 1st October.

For further information please contact press officer Maxine McAdams on 01566 771862 or email: mmcadams@marketing-pr.co.uk.

The Objective One Programme for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly has invested in the Business Link Cornwall Food and Drink Programme through the European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund (EAGGF). The Objective One Programme has also invested in Business Link through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) to help companies improve performance and grow.

Anyone considering a new horticulture, food and land based industries project is advised to speak with Martin Butler at Government Office South West on 01752 635134 before commencing development as there are now only limited funds available due to the successful uptake of funding by the agricultural sector in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

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Editor's notes

Business Link provides a free information and enquiry service via an information gateway on the web www.bldc.co.uk and via the telephone on 0845 600 9966 to all businesses and those considering starting a business. Additionally It provides impartial business advice and support through a network of partner organisations, which it co-ordinates, and a register of independent business practitioners. Business Link for Devon and Cornwall delivers the national Business Link service to the region under contract from the South West RDA.

Business Link has received Objective One investment (European Regional Development Fund and EAGGF) to help companies improve performance and grow.

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Clare Morgan
Media Relations Manager
Objective One Partnership Office
Castle House
Pydar Street
Truro TR1 2UD
Mobile: 07973 813647
Telephone: 01872 223439

cmorgan@cornwall.gov.uk

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