Tag Archives: Food producers
Producers across the country are embracing local and organic ingredients and eco-friendly manufacturing methods, and Gloucestershire food producers are no different. Snuggled in the heart of England, Gloucestershire boasts a food heritage that goes back centuries.
Simon Weaver’s Cotswold Organic Dairy produces some amazingly creamy and award-winning cheeses. The company farms organically in the Cotswolds at Kirkham Farm where Fresian cows feed on organically grown grass. The milk travels a mere five metres to the creamery every morning where expert cheesemakers turn it into a delicious range of artisan products.
Choose from Organic Cotswold Brie, Blue-Veined Brie or Herb Brie. Importantly, the farm encourages and promotes wildlife with no artificial fertilisers or chemicals used to grow crops, and the creamery itself is powered using renewable energy sources.
Jess’s Ladies produces milk, cream and yoghurt and is run by the Vaughan family who milk 80 cows on a farm. The cows (the Ladies) produce un-homogenised, pasteurised milk on site. This is taken straight to local shelves to ensure the best possible flavour. Each lady is known by name and milked personally. As the milk is not homogenised, the milk retains its natural composition. The most recent addition to the menu is luxurious natural yoghurt, made by hand.
The Cotswold Farmer has been part of the local food community since the 1970s, priding itself on environmental responsibility. The company has sustained a well-deserved reputation for its sausages, using a mixture of ingredients and recipes. Toulouse Style pork sausages, Italian Style, Spicy Spanish Style, Cotswold Herb Garden Style are all on the menu. Their ingredients include red wine, garlic, toasted fennel seeds and traditional Italian and Spanish herbs and spices.
Also on offer are Cotswold Gluten Free pork sausages and as alternatives to pork, venison sausages and St Georges beef sausages. The pigs are bred and reared on the family farm in the North Cotswolds.
Acres of Orchards
Another of Gloucestershire food producers is Day’s Cottage. It has over 20 acres of orchards to help the company produce award-winning apple juice for more than 20 years. Pure apple juice, cider and perry are all manufactured using traditional methods and apples from traditional, mature orchards in Gloucestershire.
No additives or preservatives are used in manufacture. The juice of over 1kg of fresh fruit fills each 75cl bottle. The orchards are all free from sprays, chemicals or artificial fertilisers. The ciders and perry are fermented and matured in oak barrels. Only old varieties are used, such as Morgan Sweet and Foxwhelp apples and Brown Bess and Blakeney Red pears.
Ethical Addictions based in Kingsholm, Gloucester, is a small family company that sources high quality coffee buying direct from the growers. The coffee comes from villages in Brazil and Tanzania. Products include the Grizzly Bear Ethical Coffee Blend and shade grown coffee.
Finally if you’re after raw coconut oil why not try out Bula Batiki which works with Fijian islanders directly to ensure their communities benefit.
Proving once again that there are some unusual as well as mainstream food producers in the counties served by AC Services (Southern).
Will it be Brexit, the Beast from the East, nerve gas poisoning, or Donald Trump?
No, what we are currently facing is a global shortage of currants, raisins and sultanas. This dried fruit crisis is not short term.
The dried fruit crisis is raising concern around the world and especially in the UK. All are concerned about the ready availability of this foodstuff in the future.
Britain is the world’s biggest importer of dried fruit. Since September last year, the price of raisins and sultanas has seen an exponential rise of up to 42%. Consider what the impact could be on hot cross buns and Christmas puddings.
One a Penny…?
There are a number of factors that have contributed to this price increase. Falling numbers of raisins in California and the reduction by Greek farmers in producing currants are the main culprits.
According to the BBC, California produces most of the raisins destined for the UK. But farmers in the region have decided that there are more lucrative crops than dried fruit. The forecast is for 275,000 tonnes of raisins to be produced in 2017-18 in California. This is an 8% reduction from the previous year and 15% below the five-year average. Also, land and labour costs have risen in the USA.
Turkey and Greece have become the go-to places. But Greece’s declining production is now forcing buyers to seek out other markets, notably Australia and South Africa.
Unfortunately, Australia’s harvesting of the sultana crop seems to be running slow due to an unprecedented heatwave. The good news is that Turkey is still producing large amounts of dried fruit.
The industry itself is reassuring worried fans of hot cross buns that a shortage is highly unlikely. But some cannot rule out traditional Christmas baking being affected unless a viable solution is found. Gordon Polson, director of the Federation of Bakers, said anybody who is making hot cross buns for Easter will “already have the supplies in place”. Andrew Ciclitira, director of UK dried fruit supplier Demos, urged manufacturers to be “more creative” and look to Australia and South Africa as alternative suppliers of raisins and sultanas.
Whatever the outcome of the current (!) situation, at least it gives bakers an excellent opportunity to expand their menu and use other ingredients, such as dried exotic fruits including mango or coconut and, of course, there is always the fallback of chocolate! For example, Turkey will have a bumper crop of apricots in 2018 which can be dried and stored for several years.
The reality is the world is changing and dried fruit are not the only British basics under threat. So the dried fruit crisis is just one of many to come.
The Westpoint Exhibition Centre in Exeter was the setting for the 2018 Source Trade Show which took place on 6 and 7 February. This prestigious show gave visitors the opportunity to escape the big cities, where the majority of trade shows take place, and travel to the beautiful West Country and the historic city of Exeter.
The 2018 Source Trade Show was exactly as described. A venue that allows owners and managers the opportunity to source whatever they need for their premises, whether it be food ingredients, staff or equipment. As with previous shows, representatives from the pub and bar industry, the public sector including schools and hospitals, supermarkets, hotels and farm shops attended the Show.
Food and Other Stuff
Over 250 exhibitors from Taste of the West, the South West, and beyond also attended the show. 17 newcomers all from the South West exhibited at a trade show for the very first time. 83 companies also braved Source for the first time. Exhibitors comprised key South West, UK and international food and drink producers, as well as service providers.
Newcomers are more than welcome at the Source Show as the organisers explain. “We offer them special rates, or a leg up as it were…one of the biggest challenges new companies have is actually getting their products to market and the Source also connects them with distributors, who in turn get the chance to add exiting new products to their ranges.”
Visitors were able to source more unusual local products and meet face-to-face with local producers and learn the provenance of their products. The organisers wanted to present the show on all sensory platforms – taste, smell, presentation, packaging, a feat they managed admirably. Food was not the only attraction. Visitors also took advantage of other goods on display from kitchen equipment, EPoS systems, uniforms and tableware.
The Demonstration Kitchen was a huge and popular success, boasting “inspirational chefs, masterclasses, talks and more!” Perhaps the most popular area was the artisan section. But there was a massive presence from local, regional and national manufacturers and regional food and drink producers.
Some of the most popular producers included ice-cream makers, Dartington Dairy . It uses sustainable farming practices and innovation to produce their range of goats’ milk ice-creams. Their latest offering is Kefir, a super tasty cultured goats’ milk drink.
Healthy Recipes Ltd introduced MezzeSoul, a fresh pomegranate juice sauce brand which brings the heat, warmth and soul of the Mediterranean into the UK. JEAM Super Mixes is a range of award-winning, nutrient rich organic bread mixes, organic, nutrient rich and delicious. The chosen ingredients are sourced extremely carefully and are all tested thoroughly before committing to production.
And of course we should mention Rational UK. They were showing off the latest advances in their Rational oven range at the 2018 Source Trade Show.
The next year’s show is already under planning. To book your place, visit the Source Trade Show website.
In the very heart of England, Worcestershire borders Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire and Gloucestershire.
Renowned for fruit farming and the cultivation of hops, today only the Vale of Evesham has orchards still worked on a commercial scale.
Banner Foods are based in Bromsgrove, was established over 100 years ago back in 1906 by Sam Banner and his wife. Nowadays the business has three distinct sectors: a farm shop butchery with takeaway food; a manufacturing unit that produces meals for all catering establishments; and most recently a restaurant.
The butcher’s side of the business provides excellent cuts of meat, including lamb in mint and onion gravy, lamb Marrakech with orange, sultana and chickpeas and lambs liver. More exotic meals include curried fragrant guinea fowl breast and rich venison casserole.
Fruits of the Earth
One of the Worcestershire food producers serving the UK is Primafruit is based in Evesham. It is the place for fresh fruit. The company specialises in the sourcing and supply of fresh fruit and works with some of Britain’s best-known retailers and foodservice customers.
Fruit is sourced from around the world and Primafruit prides itself in its excellent relationship with growers and suppliers. The product range includes stone fruit, citrus, grapes, kiwi and pineapples all year round as well as melons and bananas.
No waste is sent to landfill; with a local dairy farm taking significant volumes of fruit waste as cattle feed and compost material.
Ice Cream and Herbs
For those who love ice cream then Bennetts is a familiar name in the county with a delightful selection of traditional and contemporary flavours. All recipes are suitable for vegetarians and are gluten free except amaretto, lemon meringue and champagne sorbet.
There are over 50 flavours of truly traditional ice cream to choose from. This made on the farm in Worcester from milk supplied by Bennett’s own dairy herd and fresh double cream from a local independent dairy.
The farm holds 240 Holstein/Friesian cows. In the summer, the cows graze in luscious pastures, set between the rivers Severn and Teme. The creamiest and freshest morning milk is collected, pasteurised and turned into delicious ice cream within 24 hours. There is a huge choice from Banoffee Fudge, Blue Bubblegum, Caramel Honeycomb & Fig Ice Cream, Coconut & Pineapple Ice Cream or Honey & Ginger.
Finally let’s talk about herbs! Red Deer grows fresh herbs in Worcester and then distributes them nationwide. Established in 1986, Red Deer Herbs concentrates on processing herbs and related crops to the highest quality standards. The choice includes red and lemon basil, chervil and chives, lovage and fennel and borage, a taste similar to cucumber.
Worcestershire food producers are the last in the first AC Services series of local food producers in the area it serves. But there are so many good local ingredients, we’ll soon start spotlighting some more.
BREAKING NEWS! Mary Berry has been spotted chatting with Marcus Bean, Nadiya Hussain and a whole host of other top chefs. But rumours of a rival show to the Great British Bake Off have, were quashed as the chefs were united at the annual Good Food Show Birmingham NEC from 30 November – 3 December 2017.
With four days of live entertainment, shopping, innovative products and cooking demonstrations galore, over 450 exhibitors took part. They were joined by an exciting menu of top chefs and cookery experts. Mary Berry, Tom Kerridge, Michel Roux Jr, James Martin, The Hairy Bikers, Raymond Blanc, Anjula Devi and Nadiya Hussain were in attendance bringing demonstrations and advice to the masses who came through the halls.
The Big Kitchen super-theatre was the highlight of the Good Food Show Birmingham. Here the celebrity chefs cooked festive recipes and warming winter foods. This year brought a new element to the first day. Visitors who had booked the session, were able to enjoy a free Eat Like a Local session.
New for this year was the Friends and Family Festive Kitchen, hosted by Chris Bavin. Live cookery demonstrations and inspired recipe ideas gave plenty of thought for the Christmas period. These included ideas for a Caribbean Christmas and the perfect Christmas dessert.
There were plenty of other opportunities for the public to hone their cookery skills in the Skills School. On offer were masterclasses in Naked Cake Decorating with Sophie Godwin and a Sourdough Workshop with the BBC Good Food cookery team.
There was also the chance to learn a range of knife skills from the Zwilling professionals. This included different sharpening techniques, which type of knife should be used, how to use a knife for specific techniques and how to master the pinch grip.
Finally in the Skill School was the Sipsmith Gin Tasting. Historically, alcoholic tipples were almost exclusively served warm as a cosy way to get through the long, cold nights. The Sipsmith masterclasses offered tips on serving the ideal hot G&T.
Whisky and Northern Ireland Highlights
There was special interest in The Whisky Blending Lab from The Whisky Lounge. Blended whisky has apparently been ignored for far too long. So the idea was for visitors to construct their very own blended whisky. Those who took part not only blended the whisky but named it and walked away with a labelled bottled miniature!
Our final highlight was the Taste the Greatness of Northern Ireland Sampling Theatre and Pavilion. This was hosted by chef, Paula McIntyre, alongside a selection of producers. According to the showguide “Northern Ireland is a place of greatness because of a deep down determination to make the best of everything they’ve got. That same determination has taken hold of producers, processors and restaurateurs alike and is winning awards and international acclaim by producing world class ingredients and causing an explosion of authentic producers.”
Perfect for getting us in the mood for Christmas, the Good Food Show Birmingham returns to the NEC at the same time next year.
The land use is mostly agricultural. The county is renowned for its fruit and cider production, and the Hereford cattle breed as well as its famous spring asparagus. Herefordshire stretches from Ross-on-Wye in the Wye Valley to Leominster and Mortimer Country, from Kington and the Golden Valley to Bromyard, Ledbury and the Malvern Hills.
Herefordshire food producers are recognised throughout the UK for quality and taste, as Trecorras Farm can testify. Last year the company showcased its charcuterie to London restaurants and chefs at The Tower of London including the new kid goat meat charcuterie range.
The company produces high quality kid goat meat as a passion. Rural Herefordshire provides the perfect environment for the young kid goats – currently one of the hottest food trends – to thrive. Trecorras supplies many chefs and restaurants locally and nationally with kid meat, charcuterie and merguez sausages.
Another company that has been acclaimed for its produce is Tigg’s. Tigg’s salad dressings and sauces are made in Bodenham by two brothers. They have added their own personalities to their former ‘Granny Tigg’s’ artisan-style labelling to make a more generic label, ‘Perfect Match’.
“We tweaked our brand to a play on dating amongst food, in which different all-purpose sauces and dressings might find their match with different foods as well as different customers,” said Jacob James of Tigg’s. The company produces naturally colourful, all-purpose dressings and sauces that can be used on salads and as ketchups, pasta sauces, marinades and even pizza bases! Flavours include Sweet Original, Bold Beetroot and Cool Basil & Pea.
Wye Valley Produce is grown by fourth-generation farmers, the Chinn family, in the Wye Valley. Having planted its first asparagus crop in 2003 it has since expanded to include rhubarb, blueberries and green beans.
According to the company, “the light, sandy soil and south-facing slopes of the meandering Wye Valley capture the earliest spring sunlight, and create a microclimate that is perfectly formed to produce some of the earliest, and the best, produce in the UK”.
Cider and perry are integral to the Herefordshire region. Gregg’s Pit was established in 1994. It makes real Herefordshire cider and perry using 100% juice of vintage varieties of apples and pears, harvested from traditional standard orchards. The company still uses traditional methods with an ancient stone press, which dates from the 18th century.
Herefordshire food producers also have global recognition, with beef perhaps the most familiar to most people. Companies like Heggies provide free-range Hereford beef, sourced from a farm in Leominster. All beef has been aged for 21 days. Then it is delivered to the customer in an insulated container to ensure optimum freshness and quality. The company also has a range of award winning sausages, with ten flavours made on the premises.
Herefordshire is in the heart of England and has been producing fine food and beverages for generations. With traditional methods marrying with modern technology, the county has much more to offer on a global scale. AC Services is pleased to support Herefordshire food producers and catering businesses.
Wales has over 78% of its land surface given over to agricultural use. The vast majority of which consists of permanent grass pasture or rough grazing. This has led to the world famous Welsh lamb. Other traditional dishes include laverbread (made from edible seaweed), cawl (a lamb stew) and bara brith (fruit bread).
However there are literally hundreds of Welsh food producers that offer succulent and exotic food to pubs, restaurants and other eateries which are worth a look.
Cider making is big business for Hallets. At their headquarters at Blaengawney Farm, the company uses old traditional methods of cider making from fresh cider apples borrowing a few techniques from wine makers along the way. Ancient oak barrels with cider ageing inside work alongside stainless steel wine fermenters to produce real and draught cider.
“We make a number of different draught ciders and a perry… all of which are pure juice. We ferment each variety of apple separately and then blend into the ciders listed below. Our limited edition ciders are also produced in smaller quantities as opposed to our standard products of Heartbreaker, Blindfold and National Treasure which are available all year round,” says a spokeperson.
If cupcakes are your thing, then Ridiculously Rich by Alana had a good start in life, having won the Apprentice Show and the backing of Lord Sugar. Every Ridiculously Rich cake is meticulously hand-crafted in Wales using the finest ingredients. Gooey Chocolate Brownies, Chunky Rocky Road and Salted Caramel Slices are just a few of the delicious flavours on offer. Originating from a little country kitchen, Ridiculously Rich’s approach in the kitchen is described as “perfectionist, experimental, flavour-obsessed, and motivated by all things indulgent.“
Cheese is everyone’s favourite and Caws Cenarth is a family business started in 1987 in response to Milk Quotas. Six generations of cheesemaking tradition go into the manufacture of the Caws Cenarth cheeses, which include the creamy, fresh-flavoured Caerffili. In fact, it lays claim to being the oldest established producer of Welsh Farmhouse Caerffili. Also on the menu are Garlic and Herb Caerffili, Smoked Caerffili and Brie-like Perl Wen, a creamy blue, Perl Las, and Golden Cenarth, a washed-rind cheese.
Chutneys, curds, preserves, jams, jellies and marmalades are all available at Little Grandma’s Kitchen a family-run business based in St Clears, Carmarthenshire. The company manufactures mouthwatering chutneys, including Mulled Spiced Apple, Caramelised Red Onion, Grumps Spicy Apple and Apple, Carrot & Ginger. For those brave enough, there is the Inferno Chutney with Naga Chilli and Weapons Grade Chilli! All products are made in small batches to retain their individual flavour using seasonal, local produce where possible.
Last of the Welsh food producers today is The Food Assembly at Abergavenny. This is an award-winning food community delivers the best produce from local Welsh farmers and foodmakers. It works via an online market, where customers to place their orders for vegetables, fruits, eggs, dairy products, meat, bread, honey and fish. The choice ranges from exotic spices to mackerel fillets to organic meat, all locally sourced.
Open only to the trade, the first show opened 17 years ago and since then, has expanded enormously to embrace all aspects of the speciality food market.
Kara Bowen, Event Manager, said “Speciality & Fine Food Fair has, without a doubt, been at the forefront of the UK’s gourmet food and drink industry for nearly 18 years. Buyers from retail, foodservice and wholesale rely on the Fair as it provides an exclusive opportunity for discovery and inspiration. It is also a fantastic platform for producers to grow their business.”
Debut and Returns
This year, more than 700 food and drink producers attended, including nearly 200 suppliers making their debut. Among a number of new features, the old favourites such as the Discovery Zone, the Great Taste Awards and the Chocolate Trail were eagerly awaited. The Discovery Zone unveiled the latest food and drink delights from new businesses. Its stands are exclusively reserved for companies who have only been trading in the UK for up to 36 months.
Despite the unpopular sugar tax, chocolate and confectionery are still firm favourites. The Speciality & Fine Food Fair is heralded as the UK’s finest trade showcase of luxury and gourmet chocolate. The Speciality Chocolate Trail did not disappoint and led visitors through the halls of Olympia to over 50 fine and artisan chocolate producers.
Savour the Flavour: Live Kitchen, also drew the crowds. It featured practical tips and advice from some of the industry’s best known chefs and personalities.
This demonstration was supplemented with Food for Thought which offered visitors workshops on trending topics, and Scale Up which provided in-depth round-table discussions on key business queries. Topics covered included Cooking Successfully with Allergies, Mastering Cheese and The Proof is the Provenance.
A company that attracted a lot of interest was Grub, which offered edible insects. Apparently, as well as being tasty, insects are nutritious and sustainable, high in protein, minerals like iron and calcium and containing essential amino acids like Omega 3 and 6!
The Speciality & Fine Food Fair offers a platform for artisan food and drink, from centuries old heritage brands to up-and-coming new food businesses. The success of the 2017 show is to be repeated next year from 2 to 4 September at the same venue.
As the gateway to South West England, the region has much to offer in terms of fruit, vegetables, meat, poultry and fish.
Powells of Olveston is located in South Gloucestershire and is passionate about the produce it sells, and with good reason.
Powells sources all of its produce locally and ethically, working closely with local farmers and fishermen. This enables it to guarantee traceability on all meat and fish and ensure it is of the highest quality. The company offers lamb, pork (including sausages), chicken, duck, beef and line caught and dayboat caught fish.
It is the fish for which Powells is renowned. It’s wet fish includes cod, bass, dover and lemon sole, pollack, halibut and haddock. While the oily fish includes mackerel, salmon, trout, sardines, herrings and whitebait.
Another company that is making its mark in Bristol is Plough to Plate. Launched in 2003 Plough to Plate has built a superb reputation. So it is known for “sourcing the finest hand crafted and artisan products and supplying them to discerning chefs and specialist retailers throughout the region”.
Plough to Plate offers everything from micro-brewery beers, award-winning cheeses, hand raised pork pies, authentic charcuterie, slow risen breads and artisan chocolates. Billed as “an encyclopedia of regional fine food”, the company also sources unusual or exotic items. These include fresh truffles or a 25-year old DOCG balsamic vinegar.
Arthur David promises food with service! Founded in 1962, the company now grows its own produce, often supplying products unavailable at market. Fruit is succulent, such as red skinned Victoria plums as well as Muscat grapes, Discovery apples, English Somerset cobnuts. While vegetables available include baby leeks, baby carrots, baby turnips and all the coloured baby beets. More unusual vegetables include new season coloured carrots in purple, white and yellow, along with a range of purple and orange cauliflowers.
Another of the farm producers is Frocester Fayre Farm Shop. It has an abundance of meat, from Welsh Black and Aberdeen Angus cattle reared at Church Farm. All cattle are fed on a diet of grass, silage and barley, all grown on the farm. 150 hens and 20 ducks supply the shop and kitchen with eggs.
The owners butcher and sell all the meat in the shop. With the pork and lamb left to hang for a week, whilst the beef is hung for a minimum of three weeks. From this meat come delicious sausages, burgers, meat products and delicious faggots, all made in the farm shop’s kitchen.
Frocester aims to “use as many local ingredients as we can keeping ‘food miles’ and our ‘carbon footprint’ to a minimum. We are a genuine family business and our aim is to give all our customers excellent quality food at affordable prices”.
Finally, Jekka’s Herb Farm farm boasts the largest collection of culinary herbs in the UK. Jekka’s Herbetum was created in the grounds of the farm in 2013. It is a gastronomic delight for anyone interested in good food containing over 300 culinary herbs carefully planted in raised beds.
Today they win a number of awards for their pies, which are available in a range of sizes and flavours from traditional steak and ale or kidney to the more exotic Bombay chicken or Chinese duck and cherry.
Jon Thorner’s Bridge Farm Shop in Pylle, Shepton Mallet produces thousands of both savoury and sweet products every week from the kitchens.
Head chef, John Emery is in charge of the kitchens and his saving grace is his ovens, two Rational models both of which he swears by. “We bought the first 11 years ago then as the business expanded and demand for our products became greater, we invested in a second model four years later,” he explains.
He readily admits that without them, the shop would not be able to maintain the output: currently they are used 24 hours a day, six days a week. “We only close them down on Friday until Saturday morning, when they are cleaned and made ready for the next shift,” continues John.
A local of Somerset and with a background in farming and butchery, Jon Thorner’s legacy began by providing quality locally sourced meat and since 1979, the shop has grown exponentially to produce pies, quiches, savouries, ready meals, desserts and cakes. Each pie is still hand crimped and individually filled and the awards have flooded in, with accolades from Great Taste, British Pie Awards, Taste of the West and Smithfield Awards.
Quality and provenance are the key words when it comes to sourcing the meat, with the company only using certified West Country beef, English free range pork and British poultry, and whenever possible, sourced locally. Many of the suppliers to the Bridge Farm Shop are located within 10 miles of the shop. It doesn’t get more local than that! The company also offers pre-packed meat as well as ready meals, most of which are cooked on the Rational ovens.
“The most important element in kitchen equipment is reliability,” says John. “We have an arrangement with AC Services (Southern) to have the ovens serviced on an annual basis. We also have a contract for ad hoc services, which means if anything goes wrong unexpectedly, then an engineer will be dispatched immediately to help us. To be honest, there is little need for this service, but we have encountered slight problems with limescale-related issues that the engineers have been able to sort straight away.”
The Bridge Farm Shop has an enviable reputation and maintaining the quality of the food is paramount. “Whether we are baking pies or quiches or cakes, the Rational ovens provide perfect results every time and we fully expect them to continue to the same standard in years to come,” concludes John.