Know your farmer – Know your food

Harry Siemens –  Recently Hopcott Premium Meats on Old Dewdney Trunk Road, Pitt Meadows, BC  added a new bistro section open to serving their customers seven days a week including breakfast, lunch, and dinner while taking in panoramic views of the farm.

“We remain dedicated to providing you with an authentic ‘farm to table’ experience, complemented by hand-crafted ‘old school’ beverages and decorative touches that will take you back to simpler time.”

Fred and Jane Hopcott, both born and raised in Ladner, BC bought the Hopcott Farm in 1932. While never farmed small trees covered it for 25 years, a dairy farm, the dairy barn built in 1934, still stands on the farm today.

In 2015, Hopcott Meats unveiled their expansion, increasing the total store to 17,000 square feet including more retail space with more extended fresh meat cases, a commercial kitchen, and a sit-down bistro and outdoor patio.

“We are a third generation family-run butcher shop located on our family farm, committed to bringing quality, local, farm-fresh products direct to your table,” as stated on their website. “From our non-GMO, no-added hormones or steroids beef and local produce to our specialty grocery selection, let our friendly and knowledgeable  team  help   you  make  healthy choices for your family and friends.”

During a recent visit to the area, Mike Lindsey, the general manager, and the head butcher took time on a busy morning to talk about the farmer to consumer business.

Lindsey, who started at the store 11 years ago, almost from the start watching the business grow knows why they’re successful. .

“It is because we’re all about the local aspect feeding our animals the non-GMO corn, raised without the use of antibiotics, no hormones, and the icing on the cake is that we dry-age our beef 28 days,” he said. “It breaks down the enzymes in the meat, making it more tender, more flavorful. It’s tough to find that kind of product these days, and especially when we’re dealing with one farmer, and that’s it. So, the consistency is there, because the ratios for feeding the animals are always going to be the same.”

Lindsey said many people look at them as the honest butcher because they tell it the way it is.

“We don’t hide how we do things; it is what we do, and people love it. When the customer sees a piece of meat it is wholesome meat,” he said.

The butcher said much of their meat is triple-A marbling which gives the subtle sweet flavor and adds to the tenderness of the meat. When customers ask him how they get their beef to taste the way it does it’s just the consistent quality. Being third generation farmers the business is all about the beef.

“The hardest thing is moving the whole animal out the door. Because you’ve got to move the trim, you’ve got to use the strip loins. And especially when you’re in winter time, no one’s buying up steaks. You always have to figure out how to move everything,” said Lindsey. “Obviously, sales is a big key point. In our deli department we do pepperoni that’s pure beef, so a lot of the trim goes to our pepperoni, hot dogs, smokies, farmer sausage or Ukrainian sausage.”

A good part of their last expansion included the kitchen where they can now do lasagnas, shepherd’s and other meat pies with whole meal replacements.

For  Hopcott Premium Meats it is all about the beef but also focuses on the beef including their full line of deli products and cured salamis made in the store.

The Butcher talks about the chicken which is another bonus that comes from seven local farmers in the Abbotsford and processed locally, too. They also carry BC Johnson’s quality pork.

“And we have a lot of compliments on just how we present everything, and it’s all about the art of butchering. Making sure, if it doesn’t look good to the customer, then they ain’t going to buy it and that’s, the proof is in the pudding,” said Lindsey.

The key to being a successful butcher is to have an eye for detail.

“You think about the average butcher, and you always want to be better. So if there’s things that they weren’t trimming or their strings were loose, or their roast looks sloppy, I don’t mind trimming extra. I don’t mind carving things a whole lot more than the typical butcher would. Just because I want the presentation to be a whole lot better, and I know that’s what our customers expect. And it seems to be working for us, anyways,” said this butcher. “You need staff. Good, excellent staff and well trained, because they are the face of the store. They streamline the front of the store for you, and they let you know what customers are looking for, and I think that’s something, a key point for sure a 100 per cent.”

In this case, all staff gets to tour the farm, so they know how they raise the animals on the other side.

Most of the customers never see ‘the other side’ so to speak but still have a lot of questions and want to know where their meat is coming from, how they feed and raise the animals that produce their meat.