Borders butchers have been proven to be at the forefront of their industry after the first national evaluation of gluten-free meat products.
Local butchers Allan Learmonth, Shaws Fine Meats and James Pringle have emerged from the inaugural review with flying colours.
The 2016 Scottish Craft Butcher Awards gave businesses throughout Scotland the opportunity to showcase the work they have been doing to develop gluten-free meat products.
Increasing numbers of consumers are seeking out gluten-free alternatives, and it is hoped that the awards will help direct those in need of the speciality products to craft butchers recognised at a national level for their quality blends.
Following judging at City of Glasgow College, Allan Learmonth, of Jedburgh, was given a gold award for his gluten-free Lorne sausage and a silver one for his pork sausages.
James Pringle, of Hawick, picked up a gold award for his Boerewors Sausage.
Shaws Fine Meats, of Lauder, received a gold award for its gluten-free breakfast sausage and a silver award for its pork-and-chive sausage.
Allan said the awards showed how the profile of gluten-free food had changed over recent years.
“It’s a bit of a challenge coming up with new things, especially because even just a few years ago, people tended to think that gluten-free food was bland, ut we’re always looking for something different to offer people – not just coeliacs, but everybody,” he said.
“We’ve got a lot of new marinades, for example, that we can make use of.”
He added: “These awards are great because, even with the recent developments, people are not always sure what’s out there, and it’s great to make them more aware.”
Judging took place for a lamb product evaluation at the same venue, and Allan also rtook home a silver award for his lamb-and-mint sausages.
Perth butcher Beaton Lindsay, president of Scottish Craft Butchers, added:“We run these evaluations to recognise the innovation and expertise that goes into the quality products that craft butchers make.
“Customers are becoming increasingly interested in sourcing the very best meat products available, and our evaluation aids the customer finding all the good products out there at our specialist butchers.”