Mark Reynolds of Piggery-Smokery has high hopes for his growing bacon business.
An Aberdeenshire entrepreneur has launched a £200,000 crowdfunding appeal to help him grow his food firm to have its own premises.
Mark Reynolds launched Piggery-Smokery in April 2016 and has grown the business so much he now cannot keep up with demand.
Servicing thousands of customers across the UK, the Alford-based firm, which he describes as “a hobby business”, was started by himself and his wife, Su, and high interest in the products has resulted in their children also getting involved.
Specialising in producing top quality bacon, everything is made by hand, and in order to upscale to meet demand, investment in vital equipment including a £12,000 vacuum packer and a £21,000 slicer that shingles, is needed.
Launching the first stage of the Kickstarter online, the business is aiming for £22,000, with around £8,000 already currently pledged by 34 backers. Numerous incentives and rewards are in place for investors to benefit from.
The long term goal is to open their own premises around the Alford area and even potentially offer a bacon roll drive-thru and host farmers’ markets.
Mark said: “We have around 50K just now personally that we can invest, but if we could just get our own space, that would give us the opportunity to develop. We could diversify, expand our product range, and do things beyond what we do. We would want to encourage other local producers to sell their products at the premises as well.
“We could even run a farmers’ market type thing – we just need that investment to be able to do what we really want to. We need somewhere we can make our bacon and other products, but also have a retail outlet, too, where we can sell direct to customers.
“There’s even thoughts of a bacon roll drive-thru – you’d get a brioche roll from The Bread Maker packed with bacon. We could even do a pea and ham soup with our bacon and we’ve also been practising making a salted caramel bacon ice cream that customers could enjoy, and although it would be really bacon focused, we could do something cool like that. We would ensure we could satisfy vegetarians at our premises and we’d want to support the local arts at the venue, too.”
The business’s investment plan provides resilience and sustainability in a post-Brexit and Covid environment and also aligns with the Scottish Government’s food and drink ambition to double Aberdeenshire’s food and drink output by 2030.
Short term though, it is the equipment which will help cut their manufacturing times by 60-70% that is going to prove most beneficial to the company.
Piggery-Smokery has also invested in a new van to help deliver produce quicker and more effectively to local stockists and customers.
He added: “I think I have an iconic brand here and I want to turn it into one of the best smokeries in Aberdeenshire.
“We’ve overgrown our current facility as we make everything in our kitchen in Alford. It is unsustainable working the way we are. The crowdfunding appeal is really about trying to get the equipment we need to be able to upscale and meet demand.
“Our current vacuum packer can do two, if not one packet of bacon in two minutes. At Christmas time we did over 600 packets of bacon, that is around six hours staring at a vacuum packer. We can get a good vacuum packer for around £12K and we could do around 12 packets in a minute which is incredible. You can see how quickly we can save time and it would free up time to focus on other things.
There’s even thoughts of a bacon roll drive-thru – you’d get a brioche roll from The Bread Maker packed with bacon. Mark Reynolds
“We need a slicing machine which comes in at around £21K – that is entry level sort of stuff. If we could get a slicer then we can do shingling which means we can stack pieces of meat and do all sorts of things to it. A lot of our time is spent hand cutting everything and we have to count out all of the individual sheets of bacon. A slicing machine could save 60-70% of the time. It’s a hobby that has gone mental.
“We can’t produce as much as we can sell and we don’t really want to hit the wholesale market as we think we have a USP with our bacon. If we had somewhere we could use this bacon ourselves, we could have a pretty rocking shop. We’re now making some bacon biltong, smoked salmon, dry cured sausages and kulinary kryptonie – a Celtic ‘nduja, too.
“Ideally we’re looking or £200K across the whole campaign we’ll run. I think we have a great idea and it would be something different for the area, too.”