Canter Valley looking to expand its top-tier gourmet poultry meat’s reach

As New Zealand’s only poultry company that offers multi-species – turkey, duck, quail and poussin – Canterbury-based Canter Valley aims to provide the best quality gourmet poultry meat to its customers, says company director Lachlan Dick.

“We’re not producing a commodity, we’re producing something a bit special.”

Canter Valley was started in 1987, and Lachlan and wife Kathy took over in 2002. His background in sheep, beef and deer farming has proved valuable for understanding his contract growers and also the end users of Canter Valley products. Kathy, who has a sales and account management background, takes on the sales and marketing role in the business. It’s been a formula for success.

When they took over Canter Valley, it employed 14 staff. Now, it employs 26 and has added new product lines as well.

The company has continued to innovate to meet changing consumer demands. Its turkeys have been free range for around ten years and the company was one of the first in New Zealand to head in that direction. “We’re not producing a commodity, we’re producing something a bit special,” says Lachlan.

“And that extends to animal welfare and the superior product that we believe results. Our turkeys have free access to the outdoors, roaming on grass, and we use an outside pen from the age of six weeks. We have enough shed space, so they can be all inside if it’s raining or snowing. We are audited annually to meet the New Zealand Poultry Standards.”

Canter Valley meat is processed through export-grade facilities in Sefton near Rangiora. The meat is packaged, marketed and supplied to customers directly and through distributors giving total control over the whole process.

Canter Valley turkeys have been free range for around ten years - it was one of the first New Zealand producers to head in that direction.

Canter Valley also has a growing online presence that skyrocketed during COVID with sales increasing significantly over that period. As a testament to what the company offers, Lachlan says sales have held strong. Canter Valley is developing an online portal, where people can log into their own account and order products; this is due to be released in 2023.

Aside from the general public, customers include the hospitality industry spanning restaurants, food services and catering companies, retail outlets, independent butchers and specialty food suppliers such as Farro in Auckland and Moore Wilson’s in Wellington.

Lachlan also says export markets are growing for Canter Valley in the Pacific Islands and Japan with the aim to target high-end markets in other countries as well, particularly Singapore and Hong Kong.

One of Canter Valley’s newest products is a boneless duck roast in a foil tray with a mango glaze and an apricot and orange stuffing. Released about a year ago, Lachlan says it’s proved incredibly popular. Other innovative products are turkey mince, turkey drums and confit duck legs that have already been slow-cooked and just need reheating.

Canter Valley also produces a few gourmet pet food products utilising the leftover parts of the birds. Called Cupboard Love, the recently released range includes duck and soon turkey as well. The range is additive-free, which is becoming more and more important for the discerning pet owner, says Lachlan.

“We have been supplying major pet food manufacturers for a few years, and that market has got stronger and stronger. So, it made sense to start to develop some of our own products as well. People still finding out about Cupboard Love but it’s been popular, and we are now looking at developing cat food as well.”

© Waterford Press Ltd 2024 – Independent Print Media New Zealand

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