Covid lockdowns expand the market for East Anglian produce

The pandemic has been devastating for many small and medium businesses, especially those connected to hospitality and retail. It has forced many to innovate, with companies, like a Newmarket-based sausage-maker, forging a unique collaboration with local food producers that’s seem them all benefit.

Musk's sausages
Musk’s sausages

We have all heard of regional sausage styles such as the Cumberland or the Lincolnshire sausage, but how many people outside East Anglia are aware of the Newmarket sausage?

Musks Ltd was founded in 1884 by James Musk and his wife, when they started making and selling sausages from their shop in Newmarket, Suffolk.

Described by some historians as the regional ‘fast food of the time’, the Newmarket sausage was a favourite of racegoers returning from a day out on the Downs. Musks were awarded their first of four consecutive Royal Warrants in 1907. The EU also granted PGI status to the Newmarket sausage, meaning it could only be labelled that way if made within the geographical area.

However, as retail buyers have been known to state, there is a sausage producer on the corner of almost every street, in every town, right across the UK. So why would customers in other regions want to buy Musk’s Newmarket sausages?

Covid lockdowns and a move to online

Pre-Covid, Musks had been happily supplying regional stores of four of the national supermarkets. Their weekly van delivery service supplied independent retailers and hospitality outlets across the region. Where the company had struggled for years to open up new markets beyond East Anglia, the arrival of the virus became the catalyst to finding a solution.

Musks had an online shop as part of their old website, but the business it generated had never been cost effective. With so many people turning to online ordering during the pandemic, this route to market needed further investigation.

The standard model meant a minimum purchase of £33 was required to avoid charging for post and packing, but it was unlikely many customers would be willing to buy £33 of fresh sausages in one go.

Musks realised that, to encourage online customers, they needed to offer a wider range of products. The answer lay in the launch of a new website and a combination of new product developments and collaborations with partner producers across East Anglia.

Musk's online
Musk’s website

Food producers delivering nationwide

A spokesman for Musks said:

We have already added premium quality bacon, ham, charcuterie, black and white puddings and even haggis to our online Food Hall. All the products are made within the region using high welfare animals. We have plans to increase the product range and introduce additional partner producers. We want the placing of an online order with Musks to become part of everyday life for sausage lovers across the country.

An increase in activity has significantly expanded Musk’s following across several social media platforms, successfully driving traffic to their website and Food Hall. New and returning customers from Scotland to the South West of England and from Wales to Kent are now ordering on a daily basis.

While the pandemic hasn’t been an easy time for local businesses, for some, like Musks, the need to adapt has presented an opportunity to deliver quality East Anglian produce nationwide.

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