Another of Orkney's traditional foods took a step further to being officially recognised and protected, as Barony Mills launched their application for Protected Food Name (PFN) status at Scotland's Specialty Food Show at the SECC in Glasgow recently.
Bere has been a staple crop used in Orkney for centuries, and Beremeal, the flour ground from bere, is traditionally used to make bread, biscuits and bannocks - as well as shortbread.
The Birsay Heritage Trust have developed the application, under the Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) category, with support from the PFN team at Think Local, and hope protected status will raise awareness of and safeguard the survival of Orkney Beremeal.
Keith Johnson of Birsay Heritage Trust said “Bere is an ancient, heritage grain and was about to pass into history when it was saved by Birsay Heritage Trust. The charitable Trust operates the Barony Mill in Orkney, one of the few working water mills in Scotland, to produce stone-ground bere meal for sale to the public. Beremeal has a distinctive flavour and colour and is thought to be low in gluten. We hope to increase our sales of this unique product to the mainland of UK.”
Edgar Balfour, development manager for Orkney food, drink and crafts, added: “Beremeal is distinctly Orcadian and securing PDO status for these ancient, iconic and well loved local products would do much to both protect their future and raise their profile beyond the islands. We’ve already seen the benefits that have come to Orkney Cheddar Cheese, Orkney Beef and Orkney Lamb from similar classification, which is a guarantee of quality and authenticity for the consumer.”
Using money granted by the Community Food Fund, Birsay Heritage Trust have also produced a video about the production of and uses for Orkney Beremeal, which will become available to view on the website, www.birsay.org.uk.
Food Secretary Richard Lochhead said:
"Beremeal is among some of the many iconic Orcadian products, and achieving PFN status will ensure that consumers at home and abroad have a one hundred per cent guarantee of the products' authenticity.
"This is Scotland's Year of Food and Drink, providing us with a fantastic opportunity to showcase the country's excellent local produce to a worldwide audience and develop our already stellar reputation as a Land of Food and Drink. People want to know that they are buying the real deal when they are purchasing Scottish produce, and producers in Orkney have already achieved PFN status for Orkney Lamb, Orkney Beef and Orkney Cheddar.