“The ultimate goal is to build a purpose-built factory for making mozzarella, and also a state-of-the-art milking facility for our buffalo, looking at energy and welfare, making it as carbon neutral as possible.”
Steve Mitchell’s passion in driving towards his latest goal is clearly obvious to anyone who meets him.
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As he talks about The Buffalo Farm’s latest crowdfunding venture, his eyes light up as he touches on the potential unlocked in being able to produce buffalo milk on a scale that would put Kirkcaldy on the map.
Steve has launched an appeal for investors to help the company reach its target of £800,000, with pledges already hitting £550,000.
He wants to see the first buffalo mozzarella produced in Scotland, and he wants it to happen right here in Fife.
Steve says there’s a huge demand for the product but a huge under provision in the UK.
“There’s been buffalo milking and mozzarella but it’s not happened in Scotland yet, but it’s huge in other countries.
“It’s not just mozzarella. That’s obviously been the signature product, but there’s a lot of people very interested in buying the milk, as there’s a lot of positives in it.
“The lactoses are slightly different, so some people with lactose intolerances can actually have buffalo milk.
“It feels to me that there’s so much more progress that we can make.
“Buffalo mozzarella is a product that we 100 per cent import.”
The plan involves a new facility up at Bankhead of Raith.
“Traditionally it was a dairy farm, sadly it’s completely derelict.
“It’s quite clearly been an amazing farm, you can see some of the detail on the stonework there, but there’s not a roof left on it.
“If all goes to plan in four or five years time we could maybe look at turning some of these buildings into holiday lets.
“But the main priority is our current objective because it’ll make such a difference to our business. “
Steve has also been working with a buffalo farmer in Ireland who has been offering advice on the best approach.
“We’ve had a huge amount of support and help from a guy down in Cork.
“He’s been producing buffalo milk and mozzarella and he’s doing amazingly well.
“We’ve built up a really good relationship and the thing is he doesn’t see us as a threat because he says he can’t supply the whole of Ireland so he’s not worried about the UK.”
So it appears there’s a huge under provision in Britain for buffalo mozzarella, and Steve feels this could also turn in his favour with the current political climate.
He’s keen to turn a negative into a positive, and with Brexit looming on the horizon, the inevitable trade tariffs are likely to prompt buyers to look closer to home. Some large retailers are already on the lookout.
Steve said: “Looking at the subject that no one wants to talk about at the moment, it increases the opportunity as you’ve got all these tariffs.
“We’ve had real strong interest.
“We’ve signed a first-refusal with Lidl because they were banging on our door about it so loudly.
“They’ve worked with us on the burgers three or four times.
“They would have that every week if we could supply it, we just don’t have enough product, and our core customers are our bread and butter.
“We’ve had approaches from Aldi, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose, and that’s them coming to us.”
So what is it about buffalo mozzarella that sets it apart?
“It’s the fats that are in the milk.
“You can make mozzarella from cows’ milk, but it is, pardon the pun, chalk and cheese.
“The real creamy buffalo mozzarella is just nothing like what you get on your pizzas.
“You’ll get about 110g of mozzarella from cow’s milk, and between 250g and 270g from the buffalo. It’s the same with ice cream, you need far less milk.”
Steve is also convinced that with the growth in food tourism in Fife, the development will definitely help put Kirkcaldy on the map, if it isn’t already. As it appears that word is already getting around.
He said: “I got a funny email from a friend who was at a BMW event in Stirling, and two different people, one of which was from Ireland; the only reason they’d heard of Kirkcaldy was The Buffalo Farm.
“So it’s nice that we’re doing something unique here that Kirkcaldy’s getting credit, and I’m very proud of that.”
Steve is grateful for the phenomenal support he’s received so far, but the job’s not done yet.
He said: “We’re very privileged to have somewhere in the region of 1000 customers a week coming through these doors.
“Those who have invested, we’re very grateful for their support, and obviously we’re striving to find as many ways as possible to make it as rewarding and as fun as possible for them.
“We need to really keep the pressure on, and I need to keep people talking about it, and we just need to keep this momentum going.”
Deadline day to invest is October 25.
For more information, go here: https://www.thebuffalofarm.co.uk/buffalo-farm-mozzarella