A shared passion for high-quality meat led Yorkshireman Douglas Staton, a chef, and Lancastrian Alex McKay, a chef and former butcher, to set up Manchester-based charcuterie brand, Northern Cure Link opens in a new window. Their intention was to sell their wares from artisan and farmers’ markets across the country, but that plan had to be adapted at high speed when the 2020 lockdowns and restrictions started.
Launching in lockdown came with obvious challenges. Douglas says: “Just before lockdown, the premises where we were located suffered fire damage. Then, when lockdown hit, there were delays in getting people to assess everything, so we weren’t able to produce what we wanted, so we’ve had to move. With lockdown, the little markets that we’d planned to be featured in were cancelled, so we had to adapt to the situation. We’ve launched online, selling home curing kits – our take on the food boxes that have been going out across the country.
“Now we’ve secured a bit more funding, we’re raring to go with lots of ideas. You just have to accept the situation and channel your energy into different projects.” That investment came in the form of a Start Up Loan from Virgin StartUp Link opens in a new window, which has allowed them to trademark their brand name, purchase specialist equipment and undertake a series of marketing and branding projects to help spread the word.
“We’re all about high-welfare meat,” Douglas said. “We started out doing events and pop-ups just to try and get a bit of a buzz going, but it was clear we needed some investment.”
Douglas added: “For me, meat is part of being a chef. Though we’re not out to convert non-meat eaters. What is damaging is that meat is so readily available and cheap, and people want certain cuts. With charcuterie, we’re using every part of the animal. For example, we can get seven or eight different products from a pig. It’s very sustainable and a better quality. If an animal has been treated badly, it’s reflected in the quality of the product, so we’re invested into the quality of life the animal has. If people are consuming meat, they should be consuming good quality meat, and sometimes that means spending more.”