A family who began making their native South African national snack to aid their daughter’s chronic anaemia are enjoying watching their business grow and sales soar from their new base in the Durham Dales.
Glenn and Terri Crookes turned to an old family recipe to make the cured beef, known as biltong, when their daughter Atlanta’s iron levels were extremely low. Within about four months of eating the snack, Atlanta’s iron levels had stabilised and soon friends and acquaintances were asking if they could make them the popular snack.
Fast forward six years, and the couple now have a thriving business, The Biltong Man, selling around three tonnes a month of their range of gourmet biltong and sausages. The couple have just moved into a new HQ at the Durham Dales Centre in Stanhope, County Durham, run by Business Durham, the economic development organisation for County Durham, as they look to increase global sales.
Glenn, a former Durham firefighter who hails from a farming family in South Africa: “It was my wife who suggested making biltong for Atlanta. Getting her to remember to take her iron tablets was a nightmare but getting her to nibble on biltong throughout the day was a cinch and before long her iron levels had stabilised. Next, a friend in London asked for some and five of his friends wanted to order and we thought why not turn this into a business?”
The couple use a secret family recipe handed down through the generations and made of spices from their native South Africa. They use best cuts of UK quality silverside beef sourced from grass fed herds and allow the spices to infuse the meat before curing it in their ovens and drying it out. It takes around 2.5 kilos of meat to make one kilo of cured biltong and, as such, it is high in protein, iron and amino acids and is popular among sports people and the health conscious. The Crookes also make a dry sausage called droewors, and send their products across the world, including to many rugby teams.
Said Glenn: “Biltong is very nutritious so it’s ideal for kids and the health conscious customer. We like to think of it as UK made biltong meat but infused with South African soul. We’re really looking forward to growing the business from our new base at the Durham Dales Centre.”
In the future, the couple want to develop more South African based products, including barbecue spices and barbecue ranges of meat and plan to take on staff and create a not for profit part of the brand.
Brian Archer, managing director of Business Durham, which works on behalf of Durham County Council, said: “The Dales Centre is the perfect base for Glenn and Terri to grow their business. They have access to a range of support from Business Durham – from helping to make great connections to advice on sourcing funding – and they’re among like-minded craft and product based businesses.”