AR-News: Who wants to puke?
joe.miele at verizon.net
Wed Jan 21 22:28:54 EST 2004
Haggis, Born in TheUSA
Jan 21, 8:22 am ET
By Trevor Datson
LONDON (Reuters) - A tiny Scottish firm has teamed up with a U.S. company to
start the first industrial-scale production in America of Scotland's
national dish -- haggis.
Stahly Quality Foods, which employs just four people in the industrial new
town of Glenrothes, believes the joint venture with a Chicago-based food
processor can move 300,000 tins of the offal-based delicacy in its first
The estimated 10 million Scots and people of Scottish descent that live in
North America offer an appetizing market.
But founder Ken Stahly's first venture into the United States was crushed by
an import ban following the British foot-and-mouth disease outbreak of 2001.
"We were constantly getting e-mails and calls asking 'How can we get haggis
over here?', Stahly said, as the Scottish diaspora across the globe prepares
to toast the national bard Robbie Burns with haggis and whisky on January
The U.S. launch is proving expensive for the firm, .
"It's cost us a fortune so far -- the lawyers were charging us $290 an hour
just to draft things like confidentiality agreements that will hopefully
just sit in a drawer. But the potential is huge," Stahly said.
Haggis is prepared in a sheep's stomach and is steamed or baked and served
hot, but can also be revived when cold with a dash of scotch. Stahly will
initially be offering two varieties from the Chicago plant -- traditional
The recipes, like the identity of the U.S. partner, are a closely guarded
commercial secret, but most traditional haggis contains liver, heart,
tripes, oatmeal, suet and spices.
It also traditionally contains "lights," or lungs.
But "mad cow disease," or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), which can
be transferred to humans as variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD), put a
stop to that in commercial haggis production as lungs are deemed "high risk
All of the ingredients used in the Chicago plant will be sourced locally to
avoid U.S. import restrictions on British meat products -- the irony being
that BSE most recently recurred in the United States.
Marketing could, however, prove a challenge. A recent poll of 1,000 U.S.
visitors to Scotland, by haggis makers Hall's of Broxburn, found that 33
percent believed a haggis was an animal hunted in the highlands.
But Stahly has launched a haggis recipe book which the founder hopes will
spread the word among American consumers, along with trade shows and
exhibitions,. If the venture proves a success, Stahly hopes to expand the
range, possibly in conjunction with a Scotch whisky company. The marketing
synergies are potentially huge.
But so are the bureaucratic pitfalls.
Three years after U.S. customs returned a batch of Stahly's
Scottish-produced haggis on foot-and-mouth fears, British customs
authorities turned back a trial case sent from Chicago.
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