New bid to help mutton make the cut on Skye

With its stunning scenery and the ethereal majesty of the Cuillin, the Isle of Skye is one of Scotland’s most popular and iconic tourist destinations.

And with hordes of hungry visitors keeping its restaurants busy, sheep producers and chefs are being asked for their say on Skye menus.

One Rural Innovation Support Service (RISS) group led by SAC Consulting, part of Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), is researching the potential for mutton to be showcased in Isle of Skye restaurants and cafes.

Skye has been a sheep-producing island for centuries but has experienced a slow decline in numbers over the past five to ten years due to a reduction in profitability.

To rejuvenate this, the group, made up of Skye sheep farmers, chefs and restaurant owners, is investigating the opportunity to market Old Season Lamb (12-24 months old) and/or mutton (two years plus).

Chefs and restaurant owners are being asked, among other things, whether they think there is demand for Isle of Skye Mutton or Old Season Lamb in their restaurants and what they feel is the consumer perception of the meat.

In a separate survey, local sheep producers are being asked if they would be interested in producing mutton, and if they would have any concerns about doing so.

SRUC consultant Janette Sutherland, who is based on Skye, said: ‘Lamb is obviously a hugely popular dish, whereas mutton is considered an older delicacy. We are keen to gain a better understanding of the appetite for mutton with a view to revitalising the industry on Skye.’

The survey results will be revealed at Skye on a Plate, SkyeConnect’s autumn event on 22 November, which will include a showcase of mutton canapes.

David Michie, head of farming at Soil Association Scotland and RISS lead, said: ‘Some of the best ideas in farming come from farmers themselves, but farmers don’t always have the time to step back and figure out how to make them happen.

‘RISS fills that gap and gets the right people together. Groups such as Skye Mutton connect people along the supply chain, which is exactly what’s needed for food businesses in Scotland to thrive.’

Chefs and other members of the Skye hospitality sector are invited to give their opinion on mutton by clicking HERE.

To find out more about the project, contact Calum Johnston on 01224 711 055 or Janette Sutherland on 01478 612 993.

To find out more about the Rural Innovation Support Service visit