Carmarthen butcher accepts plaque promoting protected status of ham recipe
A Carmarthen butchers has accepted a plaque advertising the protected status of its traditional family recipe ham.
Carmarthen Indoor Market’s Albert Rees Butchers was given the Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) for its Carmarthen ham recently by the European Union.
Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs Leslie Griffiths visited Carmarthen Market on Friday in the company of Carmarthenshire County Council executive board member responsible for markets Cllr David Jenkins to present the plaque.
PGI is one of three European designations created to protect regional foods that have a specific quality, reputation or other characteristics attributable to that area. It acts like a Trade Mark and stops manufacturers from outside a region copying a regional product and selling it as that regional product.
Albert Rees was set up in 1962 by Albert and Brenda Rees. In 1989, Chris and Ann Rees took over the business on the retirement of Chris's parents in Carmarthen and Pembroke Dock Market whilst his brother, Jonathan, and his family trade in Fishguard and Brecon.
Their family recipe for making the ham, which tastes similar to Parma ham, is a closely guarded secret but the basic process involves salt curing and air drying the hams for between nine months and a year. It was Chris’ father Albert who perfected the recipe for Carmarthen ham in the 1960s, in response to a request from a customer.
The curing is done in a specially converted building at their home, where Chris estimates he currently has 300 hams at varying stages of the curing process.
The result has become a Welsh delicacy, scooping various taste awards and appearing in restaurants in salads, wrapped round asparagus, served with melon and in countless other guises. Every slice sold can be traced back to Chris and Ann’s home, where the hams are carefully tended each day.
Carmarthen ham is by no means the only home-produced product to be sold by Chris and Ann. They also sell their own bacon, faggots, brawn, brisket and a variety of home cooked meats.
Chris Rees said: “We are very proud to have won this status for the whole family and we also want to put Carmarthen Market as a whole on the map.
“This has taken six years to achieve. It started when a council trading standards bought cheap cooked ham sold as Carmarthen ham. He knew that Carmarthen Ham was a premium product but there was nothing he could do about it. He suggested that we go for this status to protect our product.”
The council’s executive board member for environmental services, Cllr Jim Jones said: “I’m delighted for the Rees family and this award is testament to the work they have done by producing such a premium product.
“I’m also pleased that Trading Standards was able to help by suggesting applying for protected status.”
The council’s executive board member responsible for markets, Cllr David Jenkins said: “It’s a great achievement for Chris and Ann. I hope that their success and the standard of the meat that they sell will bring more people into Carmarthen Market and that other traders will share in their success.”
Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs Lesley Griffiths said: “I was delighted to visit Albert Rees in Carmarthen Market and present Chris and Ann with a well-deserved plaque marking their achievement in securing PGI status for Carmarthen Ham.
“This is excellent news for the product and for Wales. It is also a sign of the commitment we in the Welsh Government have to supporting world class Welsh produce and recognition of the unique quality this represents.”