Rob Ottrey is a man of the land, having been raised on farms and been associated with farming pretty much always. The Cardrona Merino Lamb brand is associated with a high end product, sought out by chefs the length of the country. Once tried it makes converts out of lamb lovers for its tenderness, leanness and refined flavour.
Cardrona Merino Lamb was started in 2007 as an attempt to differentiate the high quality merino lamb from the standard crossbred New Zealand lamb, and bring higher lamb values to the farmer. Rob was working in the Cardrona Valley, Central Otago with the farmers and in 2009 took over full management of the business. Rob had completed a Bachelor of Resource Management and post-grad Diploma in Tourism and Business Planning and set about turning Cardrona Merino into a profitable business.
These days Rob is the full owner of the business and five farmers from Tarras to Cardrona farm merino lambs for the company.
It is important to have some regional spread in order to have consistency of supply, with new season’s lambs being available by the end of January each year. These have a sweeter taste than the lambs available in winter that have a more complex flavour.
Rob is 100% passionate and committed to his product and his business. He believes that he adds value right throughout the supply chain by paying the farmers a fair price for a quality product, and ensuring that the finished product is the very best it can be. Testimonials on his website attest to the success of this philosophy with many chefs rating the meat as the best lamb on the market.
Cardrona Merino started at the OFM in 2009. Rob’s father does the Cromwell, Wanaka and Queenstown markets while in the main, Rob himself staffs the Dunedin market. Rob loves getting in front of customers as there is no more direct feedback than that. 80% of his market customers are repeat customers.
In preparation for the OFM Rob chills the meat right down before packing into chilly bins on ice and transporting to the market in his station wagon. Cardrona Merino Lamb has an A grade food safety status which is clearly on display at the market. Rob happily shares with customers the best way to cook certain cuts. All the meat is priced, and their 100% lamb sausages are gluten free and encased in pork or collagen casings.