Picture this: You start chatting to fellow guests at a hotel bar. Slightly embarrassed of divulging your pig farming background to the Austrian-based glossy media-types sitting opposite you, you finally reveal your trade (but not your name). It is then that you encounter the following exclamation: “Oh we never eat sausages! Except for Debbie & Andrew’s sausages…”
Imagine Debbie Keeble’s surprise when this happens to her during a first hard earned holiday in years. Debbie’s brand is not yet international but, as her anecdote shows, word is spreading. In this instance Debbie’s sausages had traveled from a local English market to an ex-pat store in Amsterdam, and were capturing the attention of more than just the avid sausage fan.
And I’m not surprised. Having tasted these succulent morsels of pork I too am hooked. What makes them special is the lack of compromise when it comes to taste, a decision that Debbie and her husband Andrew made from very early on.
Following an unfortunate incident involving a hot air balloon, which brought an eventual end to their pig farming days, the pair chose to start producing their own pork products instead. And so one evening, after putting the children to bed, Debbie and Andrew set to work in the family kitchen making their first batch of homemade sausages. By 2 am their work was done. Not being able to withstand their excitement any longer, the couple eagerly tucked into their first attempt at sausage making…
“They were horrible!” exclaims Debbie, laughing. The error was in the seasoning. They had used ready-made dried mixes, the result of which left them deflated. It was from this point onwards that Debbie and Andrew vowed to go “back to basics”, only ever using fresh ingredients. If you can smell garlic in your Sicilian Sausage, then it’s from the real cloves within. Just bought their Apple and Leek Sausages? Then yes, those are fresh apples and leeks dotted throughout.
And that’s not all that makes them special. Debbie says that they regularly receive praise from satisfied customers who are amazed by how tasty the sausages are despite using only the leanest pork meat, resulting in an impressively low fat content.
It’s this customer feedback that spurs Debbie on. In the beginning they were producing a range of pork products, but it was their sausages that received the most enthusiastic reception. Debbie credits this feedback with making it easier to take the decision to focus solely on what was making her customers happy: the sausages.
According to Debbie, it is important to pick up on these signs when trying to grow your business. At local fairs Debbie would observe people sneaking a sample from their stall, gobbling it down as they walked away, then stopping in their tracks halfway down the lane and making a u-turn back to make a purchase. Debbie now adheres to the phrase “no samples, no sales”.
It has been hard work growing Debbie & Andrew’s from a local to a national brand, but Debbie’s family has proved to be a constant driver. Right from the brand’s inception Debbie’s family has affected all angles of the business. And the kids have gotten stuck in too, swapping holidays away for summers filling sausages. It has been a balancing act, but one that has seen the family work together as a team.
Fortunately Debbie also truly enjoys working with her husband, and they encounter “lots of laughter” along the way. She finds her job fun, and maintains that this is a vital element of her working life. “Working in fields all day can be lonely”, completely different to this line of work, which is much more interactive.
But Debbie hasn’t abandoned her pig farming roots. After personally experiencing the highs and lows within the pig industry Debbie chose to take matters into her own hands and set up the Fair Price Scheme. The scheme aims to help stabilise costs within the industry, in order to reduce the amount of people going in and out of the business. It’s a subject that Debbie is very passionate about; especially as there are aspects of it still directly affecting her business today.
Debbie’s also passionate about exciting new products in the pipeline for Debbie & Andrew’s. It’s imperative to her that they constantly continue to elevate the business. Currently, there are chicken sausages soon to be released and an interest in expanding into the black pudding market. Inspired by a black pudding festival attended in France recently, Debbie is keen to develop a product similar to the crumblier French version that would provide a wonderful addition to classic dishes such as Beef Wellington.
At Debbie’s heart though is maintaining the brand’s ethos of “what you see is what you get”. Debbie & Andrew’s is about championing the ability to truly taste the meat within their products. And following her track record so far, Debbie will no doubt continue to be rewarded with well-deserved praise. And whatever emerges next from Debbie & Andrew’s, I am certain that it will continue to stop people in their tracks with its delicious taste.
Debbie & Andrews sausages would like to offer one lucky Women Talking subscriber a year’s supply of sausages (25 packs in total)
For your chance to win, all you have to do is answer the following question:
Name one of Debbie’s family favorite sausage recipes?
For assistance visit the recipes section at www.debbieandandrews.co.uk
Send your entries to email@example.com ensuring you include your unique Women Talking username and putting the word Sausages in the subject header.
This competition is only open to Women Talking subscribers and any submission not including a valid username will not be eligible for the draw.
Please note this competition has now closed and a winner will be contacted shortly.