Stags and spice give haggis producers food for thought
HAGGIS is closely linked to the annual Burns Night shindigs, but manufacturers are looking to promote it as a year-round product.
One strategy is to bring haggis into the convenience age by using the famous Scottish savoury pudding in ready-to-eat meals. Firms are also producing special limited-edition versions.
Edinburgh-based producer Macsween recently reached its 60th anniversary. To celebrate the milestone, the company has launched two limited-edition versions of the traditional Scottish dish.
There’s a Three Bird Haggis, which uses grouse, pheasant and duck, blended with lavender and spices. And there’s a Venison Haggis (or Staggis) that includes venison, port, juniper and redcurrants mixed with spices. The limited-edition products are available until stock runs out.
Jo Macsween, co-managing director at Macsween, said: “A lot of companies celebrate significant anniversaries by putting a logo on their pack and that’s nice, but I wonder how meaningful it is.
“We wanted to mark our 60th in a special way with new products.
“Burns Night is a great help in that it encourages people to consider haggis once a year, but it also keeps it as a once-a-year thing for a lot of people. Haggis is sort of wheeled out then sent back in again.
“We’re trying to make sure that people have a high regard for haggis and its artisan status. My job is to help people not see haggis as a ‘thing’ but as a very fine example of Scottish charcuterie.”
Meat products producer McKechnie Jess has seen sales of haggis rise 50% in the last 12 months.
The company says it’s looking forward to Burns Night, which it hopes will boost sales still further.
It’s another producer that aims to widen consumers’ appreciation of haggis and to ensure they think of it not just as a traditional dish.
The firm last year launched a new range of pakora products as part of its Just Heat and Eat range, which includes a haggis pakora coated in spicy batter.
The range also includes Haggis Lasagne, Spicy Haggis Dippers, Battered Haggis and Haggis Balmoral Bites.
Chris McCarthy, managing director of McKechnie Jess, said: “Since our haggis went national during the last year, we have seen our sales rocket.
“It is a trend that looks set to continue as we gear up production of haggis for our busiest time of the year.
“The pakora range is aimed at both retail and the food service sectors. It’s about being innovative with food and using a quality ingredient, such as our haggis, in a variety of ways.”