Local buyers snap up organic lamb

Twin Rivers trio marketing manager Dave Hockly, managing director Ben McGill and director Hugh Rouse celebrate one year on the domestic scene for their organic lamb business. Photo by Olivia Caldwell.
Twin Rivers trio marketing manager Dave Hockly, managing director Ben McGill and director Hugh Rouse celebrate one year on the domestic scene for their organic lamb business. Photo by Olivia Caldwell.
After years of exporting organic lamb of the Catlins, a local trio celebrate their one year anniversary of bringing the product home.

Bruce and Denise McGill, of the Catlins, produce 2000 to 3000 lambs to sell each year on their 660ha Te Taunga farm and have exported the fully-certified organic lamb to Europe, Asia and the United States for 12 years.

This time last year their son Ben McGill (managing director) teamed up with business partners Hugh Rouse (director) and Dave Hockly (marketing manager), all of Queenstown, to create Twin Rivers to sell their product to top-line restaurants across New Zealand and judging by their client base, it has been well-received.

In Otago, establishments around Wakatipu and Arrowtown such as Blanket Bay, The Bunker, Millbrook Resort, Matakauri Lodge, St Moritz Hotel and Saffron Restaurant all plate up the lamb to their customers.

Mr Hockly said that one year in to their venture he was pleased with the uptake of their product and the relationships Twin Rivers had developed with "top-line" establishments.

"The lamb continues to get amazing feedback from customers and chefs, such as 'it tastes like the lamb I used to get back on the farm. It reminds me of when I was a child'."

The McGills are one of only a few southern farms to gain (in 2005) the United States Department of Agriculture stamp, and have been AsureQuality-certified since 2000.

This is a result of Bruce McGill's 30 years of working towards sustainable farming and has Twin Rivers boasting a product with great taste and health benefits.

The top lambs of Perendale Texel cross-breed are then "hand-picked" for processing, using locally owned and operated companies.

The trio wanted to sell the product domestically so "every-day Kiwis who value what they eat" had the opportunity to buy and enjoy the lamb, Mr McGill said.

Mr Hockly said the effort had been worthwhile and it had been satisfying making it available in both the North and South Islands.

While the lamb has been successful through export, domestically the business keeps improving.

The three Queenstown men plan to further their customer base.

They also want to see the Twin Rivers brand move towards being a tourist product, sharing the farm's remote location, its produce and vision to others.