First delivery of 'Westerkwartier meat'
Two years ago, a few dairy farmers from the Westerkwartier region brought a number of bull calves into the cooperative to be grazed on natural land. There they grazed among the meadow birds all the time. In winter, the animals were kept in stalls where they were fed on grass, hay and silage provided by farmers in the region.
Slaughter in Groningen
The first cattle were recently slaughtered at Kroonvlees in Groningen. The Niekerker butcher Van Wijk took care of the further processing, such as boning and the like.
The first package of 'Westerkwartier meat' was for PvdA alderman Elly Pastoor of Economics of the municipality of Westerkwartier. She got it out of the hands of dairy farmer Kris Posthumus from Zuidhorn; the owner of the beef in question.
Fifteen farmers from the Westerkwartier region now participate in the new Natuurvleescoöperatie. This year, the farmers will bring in a total of forty cattle, next year already eighty. Consumers are increasingly critical about the origin of the food products they buy in the shops.
Dairy farmer Alex Datema from Briltil, who is involved in the cooperative, considers it feasible to find sufficient sales for this regional product.
Director Hans Bergsma of the Gebiedscoöperatie Westerkwartier - who is also involved in the initiative - reported that in time the intention is to involve clients of care institution De Zijlen from Tolbert in grazing the cattle.
In the even longer term, the Beef Cooperative wants the cattle to be slaughtered in the future Food Factory that will be located on the Leeksterveld industrial estate in Leek. For the construction of the Factory 7 hectares of business premises have been reserved. Director Bergsma of the Cooperative Westerkwartier expects the construction of the premises to start in the third quarter of this year. In the future, the Factory will have around 200 jobs.
To start with, the Food Factory will have a slaughterhouse, a 'meal factory' (where vegetables are processed) and a waste processing plant that produces energy and carbon. The factory will supply complete meals to care centres and hospitals and eventually also to restaurants and supermarkets within a 50 kilometre radius of the city of Groningen.
The regional cooperative Westerkwartier obtains its raw materials from grain and fruit growers and fishermen from all over the North. The initiators are discussing a total of fourteen product groups. Eventually, the Food Factory will be expanded to include a bakery, brewery, cannery and restaurant.