A FAMILY-OWNED meat and poultry supplier expects turnover to increase by a third with the launch of a new premium brand of beef.

Country Valley Foods (CVF), in Hurworth, Darlington, has used a £45,000 grant from the English Beef & Lamb Executive to launch its Grand Reserve range.

Managing director Stewart Munro, who set up the company in 1971, said: "Over the past year, we have been working closely with local farmers to develop the Grand Reserve beef.

"What sets it apart from other meat is that it is local, totally traceable from selected farmers and matured for 21 days to make it tender and succulent."

In the year to March 2005, CVF had a turnover of £4m, which has grown to £4.5m this year. Mr Munro said the figure is expected to climb to £6m in the next year or two.

Robin Hirst, of Neasham Grange Farm, Darlington, is one of six farmers supplying meat to CVF. He said: "We are selecting the very best of our stock for the Grand Reserve range. Everyone I know who has tried it says the flavour and tenderness is fantastic."

The official launch took place yesterday, with guests including the deputy mayor of Middlesbrough, Bob Brady.

The Prince of Wales also sent a message, saying: "Initiatives like yours are what will save British livestock farming."