One of the biggest rare-breed pig herds in the country started as a means of having a private supply of pork for summer spit roasts. Sam Martin is now eyeing the multiples

Sam Martin was running the arable side of his father's dairy farm on Hampshire's South Downs when he bought a couple of quality pigs for the family to eat. But word spread and local demand increased, until buying and breeding Gloucester Old Spot pigs took over from wheat, barley and maize in 2004 when it became more profitable.

The herd stands at 95 Gloucesters and 30 faster-growing Hampshire crosses, and the farm's premium- branded sausages, roasting joints, hams and bacon sell to local butchers, pubs and restaurants. Martin supplies London restaurants and independent stores, but the emphasis is on local food. He is keen to enter the mass market of multiple retailers but says it's too early at present.

"We don't want to confine sales to just a few customers," said Martin, "and we don't want retailers asking for economies of scale on production. The costs are higher than for mainstream pork. The price has to reflect that.

"It's not much more expensive, just £1 or £2/kg more. No one has haggled over price because they can see why it costs more." Gloucesters take seven-and-a-half months to finish compared with 90 days for commercial breeds, but Martin says they have a "developed" flavour and a meat that is "almost self-basting". Prime, free-range, rare-breed pork, complete traceability and only natural ingredients enables Martin's company to offer a premium end product selling for £5.50/kg wholesale and £8.30/kg retail. Keeping the butchery in-house has allowed him to maintain close quality control. Three animals are processed each week but output is increasing "quite substantially". There are also plans to build new cold stores to offer air-dried ham.