Lynn & Steve Tricker are the husband and wife team behind the delicious Truly Traceable pies and in their words, what started off as a small project has now turned into something they never imagined!

Here, they share a bit of background on their last 10 years, how they started and their achievements up to the present day.

1. Where did it all start and how did the idea for your brand/business/organisation come about?

Before our business was born, Steve was working as a self employed traditional molecatcher. During this time he gained his DSC 1&2 and DMQ deerstalking/management qualifications. A few of his ‘mole’ customers also had problems with deer damage and asked if he would deal with that too. At this time, Lynn was working as a cook at their local pub in Halesworth. It was lovely to have a plentiful supply of wild venison to cook with at home, but as Steve acquired more deer management work the freezer at home was getting fuller! It was at about this time that we were approached by friends who had recently taken on the local deli. They knew about the reputation Lynn had for her handmade pastry and how popular it was so asked if she would make their deli pork sausage rolls for them!

2. How did you develop your brand/business/ organisation in the early days?

With surplus venison in the freezer, it occurred to us that perhaps some venison products might be worth a try in the deli too. Initially we developed a recipe and made some venison sausage rolls to sell alongside the pork ones and they flew out the door, people loved them. This then led us into developing a venison pie recipe. We decided to sell those as a ‘frozen to cook at home’ style pie with a delicious red wine gravy with a hint of dark chocolate. We also decided to keep our venison products species specific and not bundle together meat from different deer into a batch when we cook it or make the fillings for the sausage rolls.

3. What aspects were involved in creating your brand/business/organisation?

TBH we never set out to launch a business from those initial venison products going into the local deli so there was never a business plan. We always say ‘the business found us.’ From the onset though we always wanted to keep the meat in the products fully traceable, complimented with locally sourced Suffolk ingredients wherever possible and handmade in small batches without artificial additives & preservatives. As we both had jobs at the time, it was only ever intended to be a few venison products for the local deli, we had no idea at the time it would become our full time business. Our first step was to contact our local authority to get permission to make meat products from our home to supply as wholesale.

4. What, if any, problems did you have to overcome to build your brand/business/organisation?

The only problem we found was that we initially thought we could get our kitchen passed as a regular EHO home kitchen inspection and run Steve’s side of the business under the hunter exemption clause, but this wasn’t so. As Steve’s venison was being butchered by him and used to supply Lynn to make pies & sausage rolls instead of selling the meat directly to the final consumer it meant we needed FSA approval to sell those products on to the customers. We were initially granted a conditional approval in November 2014 so we could start supplying once we’d had our hygiene inspection and full approval followed once we’d fulfilled the conditions such as having our products lab tested for shelf life, correct cooking & allergen advice, HACCP plans etc. 

Our ongoing problem will always be keeping up with demand, which in fairness is not a bad problem to have. Because of our USP (see below) we are always challenged by whether we’ll have enough carcasses to process and because of the pastry being handmade in small batches, we can’t mass produce that either. 

5. How quickly was it before your brand/business/organisation was established for your target market?

Our products were selling incredibly well from that single outlet at a manageable level for the first 4 to 5 months but that all changed when we entered our Venison Pie into the 2015 British Pie Awards and walked away with Class Champion in the Speciality Meat Category. Once the local media got hold of our story, the demand for our pies took off and within 3 months Lynn had to give up her job at the pub as she was struggling to find enough time to keep up with demand for the pies once other outlets wanted to stock them. At the same time we signed up for our first Farmers’ Market at Snape Maltings at which we totally sold out and gathered immense interest and the beginnings of a fabulous array of returning customers for our field to fork products. In the September 2015 we  traded for the first time at Aldeburgh Food & Drink Festival which was a massive springboard for our business with the national interest we gained for what we are doing.

6. What is your USP or organisation’s ultimate?

Without doubt it’s the traceability of the venison shot & butchered by Steve combined with Lynn’s buttery, handmade pastry…something you don’t get in mass produced products. The whole story from the cull, to butchering and transforming wild, ethical meat (from management not sport) into delicious homemade products that people love.

Customers can also use the Traceability Checker feature on our website to find out the details of the venison that is in their pies by entering the batch number from the packet.

7. What is the biggest achievement for your brand/business/organisation so far?

Initially it was that first National Award as that really was the point we realised  perhaps there was a full time successful business to be made from what we were doing as the demand grew and didn’t waiver. As our tiny business has  gone on to gain another 11 British Pie Awards at various levels, 6 Great Taste Awards for our sausage rolls, won the Field to Fork Category at the 2018 Eat Suffolk Food & Drink Awards, Winner of the ‘Added Value Game Product’ at the 2018 Eat Game Awards plus Highly Commended in the Delicious Magazine Produce Awards and as Game Champion Regional Winners in Countryside Alliance Awards 2019 we feel incredibly proud of all those achievements. However, we still find the biggest achievement is encouraging customers who ‘think’ they don’t like game to try our products and seeing the look on their faces when they realise how delicious it is. Dispelling the ‘strong & gamey flavour’ myth is so satisfying for us!

8. How far have you come with your brand/business/organisation?

From that initial idea of stocking a few venison pies & sausage rolls at our local deli, we now have more than 20 local stockists. We also deliver locally to customers and  attend a regular farmers’ market at the beautiful Snape Maltings plus other food events throughout the year.

To keep our unique traceability story we don’t & won’t buy venison in but we have added other wild game products into our range such as rabbit pies and wood pigeon sausage rolls and pasties. We also take the pheasants & partridges from shoots on the local farms where Steve does the deer management and helps on the shoot days. This ensures all the birds from those shoots go into the food chain. These extra flavours have allowed us to increase our range of products as the business has grown.

9. What are your short term and long term plans?

We have no plans or desire to expand beyond production from home. We have stunning countryside views from our kitchen window so the thought of working from an industrial unit is not appealing at all, even if it was an option. As we can’t increase production without losing our story, we are happy to stay at the level we are. We have both stepped away from our other jobs to run the business full time plus we have an employee to help in the kitchen 2 days a week.

As well as having previously delivered Game Butchery/cookery in schools for Eat Game we are also involved with Private Courses involving Game via Cookery School In Suffolk | Mrs Portly’s kitchen classes which are proving a great success (see below)

With the nationwide enquiries our story has generated to buy our products, we also supply  The Wild Meat Company near to us in Blaxhall, Suffolk with our Game Pies via their online shop as well as from our own online shop 

10. Describe your brand/business/organisation in one sentence.

A husband & wife team of deer management, butchering and beautifully encasing fully traceable meat with handmade pastry from our home in Halesworth, Suffolk.