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Scottish farmers launch Upper Dysart Larder mashed potato range

The family has produced a range of ready-made mashed potato products.
The family has produced a range of ready-made mashed potato products.

A potato farming family from Montrose has launched an innovative range of premium mash they hope could one day help cut food waste across Scotland.

Created by Andrew and Anita Stirling and their four children Alexander, Jessica, Hannah and James, the Upper Dysart Larder range of flavoured mashed potatoes is cooked and sealed in special packaging that keeps it fresh for up to 30 days.

The family, who grow, process and cook potatoes on their 440-acre Upper Dysart Farm, believe the extended shelf-life of their products could be a “game-changer” for retailers, drastically cutting the amount of food that is sent to landfill.

Both generations of the Stirling family are involved in the Upper Dysart Larder business.

The mash stays fresh for so long thanks to a special valve in the packaging which removes air and creates a vacuum during processing.

At home, it cooks in a microwave in just four minutes, releasing a whistling sound through the valve once it’s ready.

Andrew Stirling said he saw the potential for the innovative packaging during visits to processing facilities in Sweden and Germany.

Realising it could provide the family with produce to sell via a vending machine at their own farm shop, as well as offer retailers a way to cut waste, he invested in the packing technology, as well as an on-farm production line that can pack 500 packs every hour.

“We have a lot of experience preparing vegetables for wholesalers and retailers, and for many years we supplied washed and peeled vegetables for schools and hospitals under our Stirfresh brand,” Mr Stirling explained.

“Typically, you get five to 10 days’ shelf-life on prepared food, but by vacuum sealing it when it’s cooked it stays fresh for up to four weeks.”

Some of the mash being sold through the family’s vending machine.

He added: “We think it could be a game changer.

“We did a retail trial of mashed turnip and discovered waste was down by over 90%; this is going to stop so much food going to landfill.”

Mr Stirling said the family have had fantastic feedback on the range of seven different mashes after trialling sales in butchers around Aberdeen and Glasgow.

They have also had several enquiries from retailers, and will be trialling their cheese and mustard flavours in Aldi Scotland stores for one week from April 7.

Flavours in the range include haggis ‘n’ mash.

“We came up with the flavours as a family and based them on foods we know people like,” Mr Stirling said.

“My wife is a great cook and uses lots of chorizo, which we thought was a good flavour, and we also have haggis, which is traditional, colcannon mash, and root veg.

“We did taste tastes at the University of Dundee and the students all loved the mustard mash, so we had to include that too.”

With plans to use the packing technology to expand into other convenience foods in future, Mr Stirling said he hopes the Upper Dysart Larder brand will prove to be a profitable diversification for the family.

“We have invested a lot in the processing facility and equipment, but because all four of our children have come into the business I’m investing in their future,” he said.

Upper Dysart Farm sits above Lunan Bay in Angus.

“Anita and I are really pleased to see our children take on roles in the business. All too often children in farming families aren’t given the chance to take over until they’re 50 or 60, but we think it’s great to be able to involve the family and give everyone a chance to take on a role in the business.”

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