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Prince Charles welcomed to Aberdeenshire businesses

By Kyle Ritchie

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Two Aberdeenshire businesses welcomed HRH Prince Charles, Duke of Rothesay, during his tour of the north-east.

He paid visits to Rora Dairy at Middleton of Rora and Amity Fish Company in Peterhead.

The couple behind the dairy, Bruce and Jane Mackie, welcomed The Duke to their organic farm.

The visit followed the announcement that the company has secured official organic certification and been selected to supply November’s COP26 summit in Glasgow.

The dairy produces a range of yogurts made with organic milk from the family farm. It uses a range of local fruits and honey to flavour the yogurts, along with milk from the farm’s free-roaming, grass-fed cows.

Prince Charles, who is known to be a keen advocate of sustainable and organic farming and food production, was visiting the area to demonstrate his support of local rural businesses.

He was welcomed by the Mackies and was particularly interested in hearing about the environmental improvements at the farm.

Prince Charles speaks with staff at Rora Dairy.
Prince Charles speaks with staff at Rora Dairy.

Since Mr Mackie took over the farm from his father in 2008, he and Mrs Mackie have worked hard to develop the land for the benefit of wildlife, building a wind turbine, planting seven new areas of trees that create a network of small native woodlands joined by wildlife corridors and hedges, linked with waterways.

Biodiversity has increased significantly on the farm as a result of these developments and this year, it was certified by Soil Association as fully organic.

This is not the first time the Mackies have met with Prince Charles. In October 2020, they spoke with him at his Birkhall Estate and presented him with some of their range of yogurts – the only ones in Scotland to be made with organic milk.

Mrs Mackie said: “This year has been tremendously exciting for us all at Rora and we were delighted to welcome Prince Charles to the farm to show him the results of our work to improve biodiversity and sustainability here.

"Our organic certification and selection for COP26 is recognition of our efforts and, like so many of our customers, we really feel that the prince, who is a farmer himself, understood and appreciated this.”

Meanwhile, Amity Fish Company welcomed His Royal Highness to its base of operations in Peterhead.

The Duke was greeted by company managing director Jimmy Buchan and his team as part of a series of visits focused on supply chain and local produce.

This followed a meeting at Birkhall in October 2020, where Prince Charles expressed his keen interest in the fishing industry, sustainability and the environment.

This year, Mr Buchan updated The Duke on Amity’s continued focus on this, which has resulted in the business being listed as an official seafood supplier for the upcoming COP26 climate change event.

Mr Buchan said: “We were proud to host a walk through of our supply chain operations where we explained our desire to improve on our sustainability footprint and how we are working to improve the integrity of our products during transit to customers.”

Following an introduction to the team, head of logistics Marie Cross gave a hands-on demonstration of how Amity’s fish boxes are picked, packaged and sent when online orders are received.

The Duke was given a brief history of the company’s journey, including recent business challenges presented by Covid and lockdown.

In 2021, the business has invested in greener packaging, which has drastically reduced waste with the introduction of cardboard, boxes and dry ice to pack fish boxes and orders.

The Duke of Rothesay with Jimmy and Irene Buchan and staff at Amity Fish Company.
The Duke of Rothesay with Jimmy and Irene Buchan and staff at Amity Fish Company.

Outside of Amity, Mr Buchan is also CEO of the Scottish Seafood Association, representing more than 70 processing and associated businesses across Scotland.

HRH and his office have kept a close association with the seafood sector dating back to the days when HRH The Queen Mother was resident at Birkhall and she hosted a presentation from the then Aberdeen and Fish Curers and Merchants Association.

HRH has continued to keep in contact with the seafood processing sector through the Scottish Seafood Association by inviting members to Birkhall each year to share their experiences of the industry and present their wide range of fish and shellfish.

During the tour of Amity's headquarters, Mr Buchan presented fellow stakeholders with representation from the seafood sector to The Duke, demonstrating the need for close collaboration between each port’s catching sector through processing and onward food service.

Mike Park, CEO of the Scottish White Fish Producers Association, reflected on the work that member vessels continue to carry out regarding improved selectivity as well as reducing their contact with, and impact on, the seabed.

He said: "Of particular interest to the Duke was the transition of the fleet in reducing their carbon footprint through new vessel hull design and the next generation of low carbon emission engines.”

Mr Buchan was accompanied by his wife and company director, Irene Buchan, alongside operations and business development manager Julie Coutts; head of finance Stella Clark and staff members Marie Cross, Ellie Fyffe and Wayne Douglas, who support the intake and dispatch of orders.

Related story: PICTURES: Prince Charles visits Inverurie on tour of Aberdeenshire

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