English take on Scots in the puddin’-race

MacSween's say more than half of their haggis is sent south of the border (Picture by Asta)

THE English are now eating more haggis than the Scots, according to one of the biggest makers of the national dish.

On the eve of Burns Night, MacSween have revealed that 60% of the haggis they make annually is sent south of the border.

Even allowing for the number of Scots living and working in England, the figure suggests the Auld Enemy have developed a strong liking for haggis.

The firm, based in Loanhead, Midlothian, makes about 1,000 tonnes of haggis annually, enough for approximately five million portions.

A spokesman for the company said: “We export a huge volume of haggis down south to independent stores and the major chains.

“We make about 60% of our sales south of the border.”

He added: “Scotlandis our core market but England and Wales are ordering it in vast quantities.

“It sells particularly well inLondonand the South-East of England but sells well all over the UK.”

Even Europeans are getting in on the act. Macsween say up to 1.5% of their annual sales are on the continent, mainly France, Germany and Holland.”

The spokesman said: “We sell mainly to niche retailers but also get mail orders too.”

Champion haggis maker, Alan Pirie, of James Pirie & Son’s Butchers in Angus said they too were now making most of their sales south of the border.


Mr Pirie said: “We sell more down south than we do here in Scotland. Sometimes this might be because Scots have moved down but not just that.

“English people are really enjoying it too, especially in London. It’s a lot of hard work keeping up with the demand but it is well worth it at this time of the year.”

“We sell thousands of pounds of the stuff down there, they order it in huge volumes,” he added.

The delicacy, typically made of sheep’s heart, liver and lungs, oatmeal, suet, onions, and ox bones, will be served with ‘neeps’ and ‘tatties’ to millions of Scots tomorrow night as part of Burns Supper.

Jim Henderson, secretary of the Burns Club of London, agreed that the demand for haggis for London-based Burns suppers is soaring year after year.

“There is a great demand for haggis in these parts. We buy the haggis for Burns Night from our local supermarket but it used to be very difficult to get our hands on it.

“The club used to have to order it especially from Scotland for Burns Night which caused great anxiety as there was always the fear that it wouldn’t arrive on time or at all.”

Mr Henderson, who has been living in London for 54 years added: “Whenever I went back to Scotland, I used to have to wrap up haggis and bring it down to London to freeze so that we could have it throughout the year. But now you can get it far and wide. It’s wonderful.”

According to Mr Henderson, the club’s members come from far and wide.

“It’s mainly Scots but we also have a lot of people of Scottish descent. Not only that, but it attracts people who are simply enthusiastic about Burns and Scotland. We have a delightful cockney chap who was sent to a recovery clinic in the Borders after coming back from Dunkirk. Ever since, he’s been a Burns enthusiast his whole life.

“We have members from America, England, Finland, Norway, Sweden and Japan. The president of the club welcomed members in seven different languages last week, so we would not leave anyone out.”

He added: “There are not enough pipers, and speakers and haggis to go around. There are so many Burns suppers that we cannot fulfil all requests.”