Best Brands 2022-23

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In more ways than one, 2022’s been a funny old game, hasn’t it?

Whether you’re a regular FFD reader or just picking up this special edition at an event, you will not want to hear any more of the difficulties that this year brought the fine food trade and the wider world – so let’s not get into it.

Celebrating its 11th birthday, Best Brands remains committed to highlighting the upsides of the previous 12 months. Hopefully our aesthetic brings some cheer, too.

The last few months may well have floored you like Shilton after the infamous Hand of God incident but there are still things to be celebrated from this campaign. For a start, there have been heaps of award-winning goods (see page 45), plenty of emerging products for the future (page 35) and the supply chain has continued to serve retailers admirably – just look at the results of our famous survey!

Aside from following the performance of products on the playing field, this publication has also done a bit of studio analysis, too. We’ve gauged market sentiment via some extra

questions tagged onto the survey (page 40), produced a half-time segment on the importance of brand names (page 57) and FFD’s editorial team has even had a stab at some punditry (page 73).

We've also secured access into the dressing rooms of some of the country's top farm shops. See how the proven winners of the FRA's annual awards achieved their runs to glory (see page 25).

Given all of the noise and context that surrounds the beautiful game of retailing, it’s easy to forget that independents have a fairly simple tactical plan. Draw the customer in with items that they know and want, then launch a counterattack (quite literally, Clive) with food & drink that surprises them into opening up their wallets and conceding.

A good deal of the success is also down to the squad you select for your shelves. So, with that in mind, I hope that this issue helps you do a spot of planning for the next product transfer window and a trophy winning season next year.

Kick off those boots, reflect on this year and take those positives. We go again in 2023!

3 BEST BRANDS 2022-23
Editor: Michael Lane Deputy editor: Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox Art director: Mark Windsor
Patrick McGuigan, Lynda Searby ADVERTISING Sales director: Sally Coley Sales manager: Ruth Debnam Sales executive: Becky Haskett GUILD OF FINE FOOD Managing director: John Farrand Special projects director: Tortie Farrand Operations & marketing director: Christabel Cairns Operations manager: Claire Powell Operations coordinators: Matthew Bunch Chris Farrand Sepi Rowshanaei Data & systems project manager: Lindsay Farrar Finance director: Ashley Warden Financial controller: Stephen Guppy Accounts assistant: Julie Coates Chairman: Bob Farrand Director: Linda Farrand GENERAL ENQUIRIES Tel: +44 (0) 1747 825200 Printed by: Blackmore, Dorset ADDRESS Guild House, 23b Kingsmead Business Park Shaftesbury Road, Gillingham, Dorset SP8 5FB United Kingdom Published by The Guild of Fine Food Ltd © The Guild of Fine Food Ltd 2022. Reproduction of whole or part of this magazine without the 2022-23
INSIDE: 100% at the heart of speciality food
your shelves. 4 25 35 40 45 65
A good deal of retailing success
down to the squad
select for

Express your shelves

Fine Food Digest’s Best Brands Survey is back for its eleventh year to uncover what is selling best at independent retailers across the UK’s fine food & drink sector. Here are the results of our 2022 research, which includes some a few more categories than in previous years. As always, there’s some further detail on our findings to give you a better view of the action.

How it works

Every brand ranked in this section is here because independent retailers chose it. We asked buyers in delis, farm shops and food halls around the country to name their top-selling lines in around a dozen categories.

The survey was conducted by email and telephone during September, October and November 2022.

The top-scoring brands in each category – in other words, those most mentioned by the FFD readers surveys –are revealed here.

Where brands achieved very similar scores, we have given them a joint position.

4 FINE FOOD DIGEST BEST BRANDS 2022-23 Best Brands Survey


After a few years as runner-up, Torres has reached the summit in the snacks category. The Spanish brand is most famous for its truffle-flavoured crisps but its full range has slowly been conquering the crisp fixtures in delis and farm shops across the country.

While Torres’s rise has been a steady one, Two Farmers and its sustainable packaging have risen to prominence much more quickly. This is possibly due to a need for a new national challenger in a British potato crisp arena that is currently split between bigger corporateowned ranges and regional brands.

Pipers is still a very popular choice and seller for many independents, and it’s interesting to see Burts make a return after a year out of the top spots but this data points to a possible changing of the guard in the category – something that has happened several times since the inaugural Best Brands Survey.


Tiptree has retained its top spot from last year but there is a fair amount of jostling for position amongst the other familiar brands in this category. Mrs Darlington’s, Hawkshead and Rosebud may all be based in the North of England but they remain popular nationally – all just as likely to garner votes in the Borders or St Albans as they are on home turf.

That said, the data shows there is still a large contingent of retailers enjoying success with jars from smaller regional suppliers or own label products.

Single Variety Co is a newcomer to the rankings, and relatively new to the sector, but it demonstrates the sales potential of a more modern approach to preserves.

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Peter’s Yard and The Fine Cheese Co have battled it out for the title in this category ever since Best Brands’ inception 11 years ago.

Both producers have signature products among their repertoires. The former’s Sourdough Crispbreads and latter’s Toast For Cheese have both become deli staples nationally and share a significant portion of the cracker / cheese accompaniment markets.

Island Bakery and Farmhouse are both regulars in the survey data and account for the sweet end of the biscuits category. Usually, they are joined by Border Biscuits but the Scottish brand is conspicuous in its absence from the rankings.

For the moment, that will have to be marked as an anomalous point – but is there a possibility that this relatively predictable category will have a bit of a shake-up?


Every year so far, Tracklements has come out on top and it has the classics, like Fresh Chilli Jam and Sticky Fig Relish, to thank for the majority of votes.

Unusually, that’s the only thing consistent with last year’s result. All of the previously ranked brands in this category were mentioned this time around but not enough to get them back on the leaderboard.

The Bay Tree has made regular appearances over the years, so it is not a shock to see them. Devon-based Otter Vale is clearly doing very well in its local area because it has hoovered up namechecks from the West Country.

There’s no clear reason for this year’s fragmented results but it can only be a good thing for the sector if some retailers are choosing to stock local suppliers.

It’s worth noting that there was an increased number of mentions for fermented pickles, like kimchi, across the results for this category.



Seggiano’s Lunaio olive oil has almost become a brand in its own right. It is again the main reason for the Italian specialist’s triumph in this category.

The importance of branding in this category has been noted in analysis of previous Best Brands Surveys, but it is worth pointing out that, yet again, those names who have made the rankings do a good job of making EVO an accessible and discernible product.

Honest Toil, Olive Branch and Spanish specialist Brindisa (which has overhauled its branding this year) are all regulars here and another familiar name, Belazu joins them on the podium this year.

Aspall gained enough nods for its vinegar to make a comeback after a few years away from the Best Brands limelight, but no other vinegar suppliers gained enough traction.

It’s a similar story for rapeseed oil, which tends to comprise a network of regional producers rather than any nationally dominant brands.


The lack of ranking for this category will come as little surprise to Best Brands regulars, or for the fans of logic out there. After all, there has never really been a market for mainstream alcohol brands in delis and farm shops.

Despite a wide field of runners and riders, this data can tell us a number of things.

Firstly, this category isn’t for everyone. A sizeable chunk of the respondents answered this question, with some not offering answer and others a more definite ‘n/a’.

Secondly, a mere glance at the results show that independents all make individual choices but share similar criteria for sourcing and stocking beer and/or cider.

The formula seems to be opt for local small breweries or cider-makers (both modern and traditional are acceptable, though). And whatever you do, don’t go with a brand you’d find in supermarkets.

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Continental Cheese

Cheeses have statuses that relegate their branding, rarely produces a conclusive ranking. Like its ripest examples, Brie de Meaux usually walks away with this. However, this year was different because votes were more evenly split. It could be a post-Brexit phenomenon (see theory in the analysis piece above) or simply a quirk of the data.

Otherwise, it was business as usual. With a notable volume of mentions for the Alpine greats (namely Comté and Le Gruyère AOP), the cream-heavy Délice de Bourgogne and the crowd-pleasing blue Montagnolo Affiné from Germany’s Käserei Champignon.this category and indicates that it’s much more shop- and location-specific than others.

British Cheese

Could it be that Brexit and the various import issues and costs it has left in its wake, has caused a shift in the cheese counters of the UK. The fact that Baron Bigod, Suffolk’s answer to Brie de Meaux, has taken the top spot in this category certainly suggests something is afoot.

Couple this result with a debut appearance for Somerset Brie and a distinctly lower turn out for Brie de Meaux itself (see below) and this theory becomes slightly more compelling.

Given that it is already approaching canonical status in British cheese, it is not a huge surprise to see Fen Farm’s creation jostling for position with popular counter staples like Snowdonia’s Black Bomber cheddar, Colston Bassett Stilton, Cornish Yarg and Westcombe cheddar.



While previous surveys over the last decade have covered pickles & chutneys and oils & vinegars, there has always been a gap for certain products to fall through.

‘Sauces’ is a first attempt to take a snapshot of the ingredients and condiments category that serve independents so well.

Seggiano’s jars of pasta sauces and pestos are often very visible on deli shelves and its pesto has graced many Deli of the Month must-stock lists over the years. That is backed up by this result.

The Italian theme remained strong throughout the data and this inaugural ranking, with both Mutti and Mr Organic weighing in with classic tomato sauces, but there were several other brands of pestos and sauces namechecked.

Condiments didn’t feature as prominently in retailers’ selections but both Stokes and Kikkoman have made the cut with their staples of the table.


FFD added this category to this year’s survey to ascertain where it fits in the independent retail mix.

Looking purely at the brands mentioned, there are a few smaller regional names in the there, with Longley Farm’s Yorkshire fanbase strong enough to squeeze it into third place.

Both Tims Dairy and Yeo Valley stretch further geographically, so their presence and ranking makes sense.

Around half of the retailers surveyed didn’t sell yoghurt at all, including many of the cheesemongers who responded. Among those that do stock it, there was a fairly even split between larger rural retailers and urban delis.

‘Greek-style’ and ‘natural’ yoghurts were the most mentioned products, with very few flavoured varieties or kefirs nominated.


Thank you Farmer Tom, for everything

Not many people know that without Mr Darlington, there wouldn’t be a Mrs Darlington’s. Working together with his wife Marion on their family farm, their belief, determination and hard work has culminated in the family preserves business you see today. To honour Tom, on what would have been his ninety fifth birthday, we are renaming his favourite Farmer’s Pickle to Farmer Tom’s Pickle.

His legacy continues to live on through everything we do.

Made with love, determination & hard work
find out more please visit our website at
Find us on social media @mrsdarlingtons mrsdarlingtons


Is there anything as reassuring and restorative for British people as a cup of tea?

Well, the results in this category certainly replicate that mood in an everchanging world.

Taylor’s, with its Yorkshire Tea, sits in its customary spot at the top, while teapigs, Clipper, Birchall and Pukka all return for another round this year, too.

Miles has featured many times before in previous Best Brands surveys. It has made the closest thing to a splash in these results by dropping into second place.

Everyone reading this will be glad to know that breakfast teas remain very much the brew of choice.

Keep calm and carry on.


When Best Brands was launched 11 years ago, coffee was a relatively predictable category. There were a few suppliers that had longer reaches and they duly appeared in rankings and traded places from year to year.

Over the course of a decade, the landscape has changed entirely to the point where there are no even vaguely dominant players. On the strength of these results, you would find a different roastery’s bags in every independent you walked into over the course of a week.

While the reality is not that extreme, it is fair to say that buyers and retailers have become much more local in their attitudes about coffee and the market has delivered more roasteries to meet that need.

The way this category has shifted towards this structure over time suggests that it’s a positive and sustainable business environment.



Achieving a result in this category has always been difficult. The two contributing factors are that lots of retailers don’t have licences, and that spirits is a distinctly regional category.

Most shops stick to local distilleries and customers definitely concur, which is in line with previous years’ data.

Rumours of the gin bubble bursting are greatly exaggerated on the strength of the results here, although some retailers named rums rather than the ubiquitous Mother’s Ruin.

A large proportion of respondents (approaching half) did not offer up a brand in the survey, which shows that it isn’t a must-have item for everyone.


It might seem niche to have added pasta as a category this year but it’s an item that plenty of delis and farm shops do a roaring trade in – both anecdotally and now from the evidence of this survey.

Most of the brands in the rankings will be familiar to readers and, as you can see, it was hard to split the Continental brands. Garofalo is the most traditional of the producers here, while Rummo’s gluten-free lines are obviously meeting a need and offering independents a USP.

It’s a similar theory behind Seggiano and the British-made Yorkshire Pasta’s appearances. Deli and farm shop customers clearly want a point of difference – even when buying a staple like pasta.

This result – taken into account with the outcome in the sauces category –also suggests that Italian ingredients are obviously a strong area for retailers.


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Several categories this year have shed their ‘safe bet’ tags and headed into unpredictable territory. By comparison, the previously changeable confectionery category has settled down in recent years.

Last year’s one-two of Dutch brand Tony’s and Monty Bojangles is unchanged. Third-placed Choc Affair is a previous winner, even if it didn’t make the cut in 2021. The rest of the data is a mix of national brands and smaller chocolatiers.

There isn't much indication of new trends among the listed brands and products. Darker varieties just edge it, and sea salt seems to persist as the most popular augmentation.



It wasn’t totally static in the distributors category of the survey but there are the plenty of the usual names.

The Cress Company continues its run at the top of the distributor leaderboard, consolidating on a year of geographical expansion in 2021 by yet again gaining the most votes from our surveyed retailers.

Cotswold Fayre and Holleys are also both on long appearance streaks in these rankings.

Rowcliffe has reappeared this year pipping other deli suppliers in a closerun thing, with the votes from cheese-led retailers divided between quite a few regional and national operators.

Suma is the “surprise” new entry, even if it is a name you hear quite often. Given the recent trends for healthier eating, plant-based and loose wholefoods, perhaps its expertise in these areas has attracted more delis and farm shops.


Eastern promise

PAT GOULD ISN’T sure how many products he sells. “It’s thousands, definitely, but how many thousands I couldn’t tell you,” says the owner of Shire Foods East Anglia. That might sound a little vague, but it’s perfectly understandable when you discover more about the breadth and scale of this one-of-a-kind business in Downham Market, Norfolk.

Set up in 1986, Shire Foods has evolved in a unique way, branching out in many different directions over the decades to the point where it is now part-bakery, part-packer and partwholesaler, supplying countless food and drink products to independent retailers across East Anglia and beyond.

If a shop wants to sell own-label nuts, dried fruit, snacks, confectionery, cereals, rice or flour, then Shire is their first port of call, while its bakery produces everything from cookies and biscuits to traditional and gluten-free cakes under the Real Norfolk Cake brand. Then there’s the wholesale business, which supplies farm

shops, delis and food halls with an Aladdin’s cave of fine food brands. Everything from preserves, chocolates and snacks to condiments, cooking ingredients and soft and alcoholic drinks can be found in the company’s treasure trove of a warehouse.

“There’s no-one else like us,” declares Gould. “We’re a bit different to the rest. You could call us a one-stop shop, but I don’t know any shops quite like ours.”

Shire Foods’ all-encompassing approach is partly a result of its long history, which saw it first set up as an organic fruit and veg wholesaler, before it branched out into supplying whole foods to shops across the country. It then moved into baking and added a wholesale division.

Today, the company employs around 35 people and has a fleet of eight vans, which deliver direct across East Anglia and further afield, including Essex, Lincolnshire, Cambridgeshire, Bucks, Kent, Sussex and London. “We deliver nationally too, supplying

The warehouse of wholesaler and baker Shire Foods East Anglia is a treasure trove of fine food and drinks for independent retailers. Just don’t try to count them all.
Shire Foods

some of the biggest farm shops with mixed pallets,” says Gould.

One of Shire’s great strengths is its strong line-up of local producers, from East Anglia and surrounding counties. Star brands include Aspalls ciders and vinegars, Marriage’s flour, Tiptree jams, Norfolk Cordials, Adnams ale and Cole’s Puddings.

“The soil in East Anglia is some of the most fertile in the world and we get so much sunshine,” explains Gould. “You can grow anything you like here. The food and drink producers have the most amazing ingredients to work with. Our region flies under the radar nationally, but people in the area know just how good the food is here. We have a really vibrant local food scene and we want to share that with people outside the region.”

The company’s range of flours, under the Norfolk Watermill brand, is a case in point. Milled at Heygates in Downham Market, the range includes Norfolk Malt Crunch, Nutty Oat & Seed and Bakers Strong White, which come in rustic brown paper bags.

Customers can also have their own retail brand printed on the fully recyclable handstitched bags to give them a point of difference. It’s a service that is available for all the products packed by Shire, from snacks, nuts

and dried fruit to rice, flour, beans and pulses.

The company’s Mornflake rolled oats are a particularly popular product for retailers looking for own-brand products because they are so fresh, typically hitting shelves within a week of being rolled.

“It’s a tricky thing for us to do,” says Gould. “They have to be packed to order and we have our own designer to design the label for our customers, but they look sensational.

Retailers might pay a little more for the service, but it means they can choose the price they want to charge their customers and it gives them unique own-label brands to sell. We’re seeing a lot more retailers getting interested in own-label.”

Part of this is undoubtedly because of the growing pressure on retailers and consumers caused by rising prices, from utility bills and

fuel to food and labour costs. But Gould is still optimistic about the future for fine food.

“I think there’s lot of media hype around the cost of living,” he says. “Yes, prices are going up but for a lot of people it’s not a huge amount. If your shopping has gone from £70 to £77 a week, that’s only the price of a couple of coffees, although energy prices are a different matter. Our sales this year have been better than during the pandemic when we were flat out supplying farm shops with flour and other essentials during lockdown.”

After more than 30 years in the food game, Gould has seen plenty of ups and downs and is confident that there are still plenty of opportunities for switched-on businesses with an entrepreneurial approach. The secret to success, he says, is not to lose sight of the fundamentals: fair pricing and immaculate customer service.

“It’s not all about profit for us,” he says. “We’re always fair in terms of our approach and pricing. Any idiot can buy a product and resell it. But what sets businesses apart is customer care and personal relationships. That’s the secret.”

Norfolk Vinegar Cake

A historical recipe revived by Shire Foods at its bakery in Downham Market, this dense fruit cake is made in the traditional way using vinegar and bicarbonate of soda (not self-raising flour), plus British sugar and East Anglian rapeseed oil. Rich, fruity and with no vinegar flavour whatsoever.

Tiptree Blood Orange Marmalade

Shire Foods wholesales almost the entire range of Tiptree preserves and condiments, made by Wilkin & Son in Essex. The company’s Blood Orange Marmalade is a full bodied and satisfyingly chunky medium cut marmalade with a striking colour thanks to juicy blood oranges.

Mornflake oats

Mornflake has been milling oats in Cheshire for 350 years and has built up a cult following among porridge lovers. Shire Foods has a close relationship with the company, sourcing several tonnes of oats a week and packing them into retail bags under the Shire brand and for retailers’ own brands. Shire Foods prides itself on the freshness of its Mornflake oats, which are rolled and packed within a week.

Cole’s Classic Christmas Pudding

Cole’s is a specialist pudding manufacturer based in Saffron Walden, Essex, which was originally founded in 1939. The company’s Classic Christmas Pudding is hand mixed with ale and copious amounts of fruit, before being baked for eight hours. The flavour is rich and deep, but the texture is light.

Chocolate-coated nuts

Shire Foods packs a huge range of nuts, dried fruits and honeycomb pieces coated in chocolate and yoghurt. Rather than being coated in chocolate on the Continent, its Brazils, hazelnuts and peanuts are enrobed in Essex so they have a thick, glossy chocolate exterior rather than the dusty, bloomy products seen elsewhere.

Five of the best from Shire Foods East Anglia
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Rising Star of the Year Flourish Foodhall & Kitchen, Saltford, Bristol

Flourish is a textbook case study in vertical integration and the duo behind the venture, Paul Hargreaves and Paul Castle have spent more time than most at the university of reallife food retailing and wholesaling.

Castle’s career in retail and hospitality began in his father’s village convenience store. He went on to work for Asda and Kingfisher Group before moving into the farm shop sector where he worked in a consultancy capacity for rural enterprises, including Farrington’s Farm Shop and Neston Park Estate.

Hargreaves set up Cotswold Fayre as a distribution hub for a few small producers in the Cotswolds in the late 1990s, from his cellar. Today, the speciality & fine food wholesaler supplies nearly 2,000 retailers across the UK.

“Paul and I have known each other for a very long time, and when I found the site on Glenavon Farm in Saltford, I got in touch with him to ask whether he had ever considered retailing,” says Castle. “By luck or by judgement, this was the best decision of my career.”

The pair joined forces to create a positiveimpact, planet-friendly restaurant and food hall that would be harmonious with the ethos behind its parent company.

“Cotswold Fayre is our primary funder and supplier - 85% of our stock is from Cotswold Fayre. Vertical integration is the plan and that is what works,” says Castle.

But this is no one-sided arrangement: the benefits of this vertical integration are

When it comes to assessing the country’s top farm shops, who better than the Farm Retail Association? FFD caught up with the winners of the FRA’s annual competition to uncover their secrets for success.

mutual. Cotswold Fayre benefits from a shop window for its catalogue, while Flourish enjoys streamlined ordering and stock management as well as resource support in areas such as marketing and accounting.

“It’s been a marriage made in heaven,” says Castle. “From an efficiency point of view, we place a single order, we get a single delivery and there is no mountain of paperwork. We also get great support in terms of resource where we need it.”

Flourish is also able to draw on the work that Cotswold Fayre has done on putting people and planet before profit, for example, obtaining B Corp certification in a far shorter time than would otherwise have been possible. The model is ripe to be replicated in other locations, and Castle confirms that that is the intention.

“Expansion is a number one priority for us at the moment,” says Castle. “We have set Flourish up as a ‘head office’ so that if the right opportunity arises, we are in a position to take it.”

But Flourish is more than just a living catalogue for Cotswold Fayre. It is a showcase for the local artisan food community too. All its pastries, cakes and bread are baked locally; the butchery sources its grass-fed beef, lamb, pork and poultry from neighboring farms and its fresh fruit and veg are supplied by Wiltshire-based Heritage Fine Foods.

The food hall also provides a ‘testing ground’ for new producers who want a foothold in the speciality food market. For example, Single Variety Co recently secured a listing with Cotswold Fayre because its preserves were so popular at Flourish.

The food hall is housed in a converted barn with a footprint of just under 2,000 square feet. This didn’t give Castle a huge

amount of space to play with, but drawing on his extensive experience, he designed a layout that maximised the available space and impressed the FRA judges.

“I have done consultancy work in the industry for 15 years and been involved in numerous development projects, so for me it was a case of implementing best practice. There is very little in the industry that is so innovative that no one else has done it - it is about cherry picking the best elements for the site you have,” he says.

One layout principle in evidence at Flourish is making sure visitors pass through the shop to reach the restaurant.

“We know that cafés are great traffic drivers and very profitable when done well, so when layouts allow people to go to the café without walking through the shop it seems a bit of a misdemeanour to me,” says Castle.

He adds that it is also important to get the split of space right, saying: “We have a 50:50 split between restaurant and retail and turnover is also split 50:50.”

Flourish was praised by the FRA judges for its attention to detail, which, according to Castle, stems from a policy of continuous investment.

“Lots of people think they can do things on the cheap and that is often where they fall down. We spent a lot on bespoke fittings made by Nailed It Industrial Carpentry and had no qualms about investing in solar panels, rainwater harvesting for toilet flushing, extra insulation, and heat recovery systems - that was £250,000 we didn’t have to spend but that wouldn’t have been the right way to do it. You need to spend money on a business to keep it fresh - you can’t just build it once and leave it.”

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Large Farm Shop of The Year

Darts Farm, Topsham, Exeter, Devon

On awarding the Dart family top honours in this category for the third time, the FRA judges described the business as having the “wow factor” offering a large range of produce without losing its focus or customer perception.

Asked how Darts Farm keeps the customers coming back time and time again, Michael Dart, who runs the business with his two brothers, James and Paul, says it comes down to understanding what makes an enjoyable experience.

“I think Darts has always understood that shopping is more than a transaction and that although the high streets are in decline overall, if you can create a business whereby customers go home having paid for goods or services and had pleasure in the process, that is going to work,” he says, adding: “Going to the supermarket isn’t enjoyable - it is a function that takes up your time. Coming to Darts Farm is enjoyable.”

As to what makes it so pleasant, Dart says it is all about “eating, drinking, learning and receiving great customer service”.

There are ample opportunities for experiencing all four of these ‘enjoyment factors’ during a visit to this iconic shopping destination. In addition to the huge range of local and artisan produce on offer in the shop, there are numerous dining options. This year has seen the opening of Cow & Cacao, a new café, gelato and workshop serving everything from smoothie bowls, shakshuka and sourdough pizza to waffles and gelato, and The Farm Table, which is all about taking food off the farm and cooking it on the fire.

Dart says much of the menu inspiration in the new outlets has come from the younger generation of Darts.

“They travel and they are in touch with global innovations. Their ideas are fresh and innovative, and we are really pleased with how they have been received by customers,” he says.

Alongside the contemporary dining concepts, there is the traditional Darts Farm restaurant, where Dart says there is a queue every day of the week.

Still, in Dart’s own words, this is not a business that rests on its laurels, and the brothers are always looking for their next project. Wine making is their latest challenge, as they look to build on Pebblebed’s legacy after taking over the 22-acre vineyard next door.

“We know how to drink wine but we don’t know how to make it…yet,” says Dart.

Café / Restaurant of the Year The Lambing Shed, Knutsford, Cheshire

Small Farm Shop of the Year

Newton Farm Foods, Newton St Loe, Bath

While findings reported by The Vegan Society show a consistent trend towards reduced meat consumption, home-made burgers, mince and steaks are still flying off the butchery counter at Newton Farm Foods.

“I think it is because of the way we farm here,” says owner Celia Gay. “We farm regeneratively, and the environmental benefits are huge. The theory is that healthier soils lead to healthier plants while helping to remove carbon from the atmosphere. We work hard to communicate that to our customers.”

Celia and Hugh are the third generation of the Gay family to farm as Duchy of Cornwall tenants at Newton St Loe, but it is their son, Josh, who is leading the farm’s transition to regenerative agriculture.

One of the principles of this approach is that farming a variety of crops and animals decreases pest and disease pressure while supporting biodiversity and improving soil health.

This is very much in evidence on the Gay family farm, where 1200 acres of land support the production of native breed cattle, sheep and pigs, as well as honey, apples that are pressed into juice, and a variety of vegetables.

This type of working mixed farming business is becoming almost as rare as some of the breeds it rears, but at Newton Farm Foods the synergies between the farm, shop and café are the glue that binds the business, cemented by a strong family bond.

“We are a multi-generational family business, so when the going gets tough we dig a bit deeper and work a bit harder,” says Celia.

The going has been rough recently, and to offset the threat posed by rising costs, Celia says they are being careful about wastage and thinking of ways to give customers a more valuable experience, from pumpkin picking and a maize maze to making sure customer service is exceptional.

That involves ensuring every single member of the 45-strong workforce can offer product knowledge on tap - not just for the farm’s own produce but for the 720 lines it sources from Somerset and the surrounding area. These include fresh fruit and vegetables grown by local charity Grow For Life, sweet treats from Seven Hills Chocolate, rapeseed oil from Bath Harvest, quinoa and sparkling wine from Corston Fields and Jersey dairy from Ivy Home Farm.

“Because we are a small business, we can’t compete with the big retailers on price, but we can deliver outstanding customer service and make the most of the fantastic pool of producers we have on our doorstep,” says Gay.

Farmers’ Market of the Year Lavenham Farmers Market, Suffolk Suffolk Market Events

Award-winning cheese

At Snowdonia Cheese Company, we craft our award-winning range to perfection, using the finest natural ingredients to create outstanding textures and flavours.

@snowdoniacheese BEST BRITISH CHEESE BRAND as voted by the Fine Food Digest Survey 2022 Scan this code with your phone camera Sales enquiries
32 FINE FOOD DIGEST BEST BRANDS 2022-23 REFRESHING. DELICATELY SWEET. WONDERFULLY SMOOTH. Nidhoggr Mead Co. is a multi-award winning meadery based in Yorkshire. Using only the finest ingredients and local Yorkshire honey to craft all their premium meads Nidhoggr’s range are all delicious, full flavoured, high strength meads. Call 0333 121 6323 or email WESTCOMBE DAIRY Traditional Somerset Cheddar Handmade from unpasteurised milk by the team at Westcombe Dairy. Everything Westcombe does – from regeneratively farming their pasture to the unique conditions inside their hillside cheese cellar – is about expressing the beauty of the Somerset countryside in each cheese. @westcombedairy
32 FINE FOOD DIGEST BEST BRANDS 2022-23 - 020 7272 5588 Sourcing traditional regional Italian specialities, from top artisan family producers, who are passionate about the quality, integrity and flavour of the food they make, including our own production Single Estate Certified Organic Lunaio evoo. Best in category larder essentials
34 FINE FOOD DIGEST BEST BRANDS 2022-23 Deliciously shareable Chocolatey Truffles @montybojangles | Directly from Italy, Stocked & Distributed in the United Kingdom Importing Highest Quality Italian Products Call today 01635 744600 or visit our website Since starting our family business in 2014, we were proud to receive our 50th Great Taste award in 2022. Thank you to all our customers for their support over the last 12 months. Winner of 4 ADDITIONAL Great Taste awards in 2022!

Next year’s models

With an eye towards 2023, Fine Food Digest asked some top retailers to name a few of the brands that impressed them this year and could go on to bigger things


White Mausu

Their peanut rayu is spicy, crunchy and gets lashed on everything in our house, from stir-fries and avocado on toast to scrambled eggs. It’s got chilli in it, but it’s not overly chilliey, it’s just got a really nice balance of flavour and I think it just works really well. It makes everything taste amazing. I’ve got a couple of others, we sell the cashew crunch one - but that’s a bit more nutty sweet rather than chilli and sesame. I’ve not tried the bean one, but my customers say the cashew and the peanut one are the best, so that’s what I stock.

Pendragon Buffalo

We’ve got a cheese called Pendragon Buffalo, which is a hard buffalo milk cheese made in Somerset. It’s been tasting really, really good lately. They’ve been making some of the best batches we’ve had in a while and it’s going to be interesting to see how it continues next year, it’s been so good.

The Wandering Ewe

We’ve got a cheese called The Wandering Ewe which has been getting better and better - an unpasteurised sheep milk cheese made on a small holding, it’s a hard alpine-style cheese. There’s going to be some really interesting developments in the make from there, so that’s going to be one to watch. I go and select all the batches that we sell, we work really closely with those guys.

Chimilove’s chimichurri sauce is branded as “possibly the most addictive thing from South America.” I love chimichurri and whenever I try to make it, it’s never as good. It goes so well with steak, so we sell loads of them, especially in barbecue season. I hadn’t tried the garlic one before because it’s not something that goes particularly well with cheese and that’s my main business, but I had a customer come in and say that I must try it, as well as the original - it’s got a bit more heat. It looks great, it tastes good, I love it.”

Saucy Sisters

This new chilli jam business is local to me and was set up by 2 sisters. They’ve just received a Great Taste 1 star for their Red Habanero & Juniper Berry jam, another for their Orange Zest & Coriander Seed and a Great Taste 2-star Award for the Pineapple & Szechuan Pepper one. It’s great as a chilli jam with cheese and charcuterie, or as a marinade. Someone who used to work for me told me to stock it - you get loads of people doing that, and you go, ‘okay, yeah alright.’ But it’s really interesting and the flavour combinations really work.

Sparkenhoe Blue

The maker, Will Clarke, has changed the recipe a bit this year and the batches we've been getting are outstanding. I think he's a young cheesemaker to watch in general.

He's only been making it for five or so years, it's the only Stilton made by a farmer, it's raw milk. So he's definitely one to watch, I think he's going to be the star.

It'll be interesting to see how the cheese continues to develop next year.



Quarter Gin

Part of the trend towards lower ABV ‘sessionable’ drinking: the world’s first quarter strength G/N (it can’t be called Gin due to rules on Gin ABV) , delivering all the flavour you’d expect from a fullstrength gin, just with a fraction of the alcohol. It's distilled and blended in England and perfect for lower strength gin cocktails.

Canaima Gin

Venezuelan gin with a big environmental focus. During the year, Canaima gave away free trees in the Amazon to customers, where they were given a link to watch a live stream of their tree growing in the Amazon. They dedicate 10% of our sales to support NGOs working to improve the quality of life of indigenous communities and the reforestation of the Amazon.

Old Roan is a farmhouse

Wensleydale cheese made by Ben and Sam Spence, in their micro diary. It's made in small batches, clothbound with butter and aged for 3–4 months. The milk comes from a local farm with a small herd and a commitment to animal welfare – the cows graze outside for as long as the harsh Yorkshire weather allows. In the winter they feed on haylage, giving the milk a sweeter flavour. Unlike traditional Wensleydale, they use a slow, prewar recipe that leads to a smooth and buttery texture. The flavour has all the lemon yoghurt acidity you would expect from a Wensleydale, with mineral, earthy tones closer to the rind.


These are large format ready to drink cocktail bottles designed to make them more accessible. Their whole range have well-rounded punchy flavours, but a particular favourite is the seasonal Oatnog which is an oatmilk version of the classic Christmas eggnog. Light and creamy, the oatnog is an amazing cocktail perfect for this festive season.

Pevensey Blue, Pevensey Cheese Company

Pevensey Blue is a new cheese made by ex Neal’s Yard Dairy’s Martin Tkalez and his wife Hazel in East Sussex, using milk from nearby Court Lodge organic farm, where the cows graze the ancient drained marshland of the Pevensey Levels. The couple set out to make a creamy blue cheese based on a Gorgonzola recipe, and the result is a cheese with a yielding, semisoft texture and a flavour that starts out milky and sweet and deepens with roasted hazelnut notes as it cheese matures and its consistency becomes firmer.


Good One Hard Soda

Great brand for flavour innovation in the hard soda space. UK made, plastic free and all natural.

Yarlington, King Stone Dairy

Yarlington is a new cheese made by David Jowett at King Stone Dairy and is the result of a collaboration between him, Tom Oliver of Oliver’s Cider and Sam Wilkin of Cellarman. The trio have created a soft cheese washed in Tom’s bittersweet cider, which is buttery and sweet with a crème fraîche acidity, a hint of green apple skin and a gentle farminess on the nose and on the finish. I worked with David at Paxton & Whitfield and since he started King Stone Dairy, I have enjoyed many of his cheeses. The addition of Ashcombe this year has been great too.

FINE award winning products Simply delicious! diverse range Frozen for freshness and quality the coolest buffet From individual sweet and savoury treats to pick-your-own fruit and veg own the coolest buffet in town • A frozen, no waste range - no wasted profit • Low running costs - 2.5 times MORE efficient than upright freezers • A fully branded solution & installation with marketing support • Advertising to over 7m ‘sophisticated foodies’ To find out more about becoming a Fieldfare loose, frozen food stockist we'd be chilled to bits to chat to you. Just scan the QR code or get in touch: e: t: 01732 864 344
Castle Dairies Castle Dairies Welsh Butter with Halen Môn PDO Sea Salt Crystals* Caws Teifi Cheese Teifi Organic Halloumi Caws Teifi Cheese Teifi Mature Celtalan of Conwy Seedless Raspberry Jelly Ceri Valley Orchards Ltd Welshcraft Cider Vinegar Chilli of the Valley PiccaChilli Coaltown Coffee Roasters Union Crwst Aber Falls Whisky Salted Caramel Crwst Welsh Honey Butter Dolwen Welsh Lamb and Beef Dolwen PGI Welsh Rack of Lamb Dragon Brewing Eyton Gold Dunbia (UK) Welsh Hill PGI Welsh Lamb Eye of Loin* Dylan’s Restaurant Leek Oil Edwards, The Welsh Butcher PGI Welsh Beef Steak Burgers* Glaslyn Ltd Halen Môn PDO Salted Caramel* Good For You Ferments Ltd Sea Green Gwenyn Gruffydd Welsh Heather Honey Celebrate St David’s Day 1st March with Great Taste Award winners ® 2022 *PGI Protected Geographical Indication | PDO Protected Designation of Origin #CaruCymruCaruBlas #LoveWalesLoveTaste  3 STAR WINNERS Allaways Coffee WINNER OF THE GREAT TASTE AWARD GOLDEN FORK FROM WALES 2022 Bay Coffee Roasters –Indonesian Sumatran Fairtrade Organic Mario’s Luxury Dairy Ice Cream Espresso Martini Ice Cream Parva Spices Sambal Hijau Pembrokeshire Lamb Ltd Hogget Mince Pembrokeshire Sea Salt Co. Sea Salt with Saffron Tasty Bites @ Ionas Kitchen Curried Goat Patti The Wye Valley Meadery Hive Mind: Big Smoke - Smoked Honey Porter 2 STAR WINNERS Anglesey Fine Foods Ltd Black Label Wing Rib of PGI Welsh Beef* Apple County Cider Co Ltd Apple County Cider Medium Dry Atlantic Edge Oysters (Tethys Oysters Ltd) Pembrokeshire Rock Oysters Bev’s Been Baking Raspberry & Morello Cherry Jam Black Mountain Honey Hot Fire Honey Black Welsh Lamb Pasture-fed, Organic, Shoulder of Mutton Cardigan Bay Fish Dressed Crab Cardigan Bay Honey Summer Wildflower Honey
Hedgerow Honey Soft Set Honey Hilltop Honey Hilltop Spanish Orange Blossom Honey Mabel George Stem Ginger Fudge NS James Family Butchers PGI Welsh Lamb Chump Chop* Pembrokeshire Lamb Ltd Hogget Leg Pointz Castle Ice Cream Pembrokeshire Honey Gelato Rhug Organic Farm Rhug Estate Organic PGI Welsh Lamb Chop* Sarah Bunton Chocolates Orange Fudge Seidr y Mynydd Seidr y Mynydd Premium Cider Selwyn’s Seafoods Ltd Selwyn’s Cooked Cockles Sloane Home Lone Stag Raspberry & Rosebud Gin Infusion Sloane Home Lone Stag Strawberry & Mint Spirit Infusion St David’s Old Farmhouse BreweryCwrw Clôs Still Wild Coastal Gin Terry’s Patisserie Blackcurrant Delice The Preservation Society Candied Jalapenos The Untapped Brewing Company Ltd Ember The Whitford Coffee Company Y Ddraig Goch The Wye Valley Meadery Wye Valley Meadery: Traditional Mead Welsh Speciality Foods Welsh Breakfast Marmalade Williams Brothers Cider Biffyn Sweet Sparkling Bottled Cider 1 STAR WINNERS – SCAN THE QR CODE BELOW #CaruCymruCaruBlas #LoveWalesLoveTaste For a full list of winners, please scan the code below

POST GAME ANALYSIS, Pre-match thoughts

Business is good, I feel confident about the future.

Business is not easy, but I feel quietly confident about the future.

Business is under pressure, the future is uncertain

Business has been difficult, I have little optimism about the future

As well as exploring the bestselling items by category, the Best Brands Survey also contained a couple of questions (while we had retailers’ attention) to gauge a wider picture of trading conditions and start looking to 2023.

Behind the data

Given the general doom and gloom at the close of 2022, this response (from in excess of 130 readers) is more positive than negative. Roughly three-quarters of respondents have taken a middle-ground stance, acknowledging that trading conditions have been challenging – but more of them are hopeful about what 2023 will bring.

It is encouraging that barely 4% of those polled feel they are in for a bad year, while nearly 20% were willing to say they were confident about trading well in the future.

Broadly speaking, how has business been this year?

Behind the data

It is unsurprising that energy bills are the biggest worry for the retailers who responded here. Other cost pressures – chiefly those from the supply chain and property – are very much a sign of the times, too.

What remains to be seen is how long and deep the impact of these is, with many expecting cashflow to come under pressure from declining footfall and customer spend.

Hiring staff has been flagged to FFD

repeatedly by retailers this year and only appears to be becoming trickier – with the general view of work-life balance having shifted permanently post-pandemic.

With so much already keeping them awake at night, it is little wonder that plenty of the issues that might have been highlighted in previous years have been left unticked. Very few flagged up concerns about improving digital marketing & PR, continuing to evolve their offer, or Brexit.

One retailer went beyond the multiple-choice

answers to put a more positive spin on their cost concerns:

“Yes, energy costs are high. However, that just forced us to change our consumption, so we’ve managed to reduce from 100kw/day to 37kw/day.”

This kind of spirit is what plenty of independents will need to adopt in 2023. After all, it’s what has helped the sector through several tough years of trading conditions.

Behind the data

The engagement with this question was very mixed and, for the most part, inconclusive. Some retailers said they hadn’t noticed anything out of the ordinary making their top-sellers lists. Others mentioned niche items: like kimchi, fish and children’s food.

But it seems that the most shocking thing for many of the respondents was that customers were continuing to buy from them –especially higher-priced items, like cheese from the deli counter.

In-house and homemade products have been on the increase amongst the respondents, as have baked goods and items deemed ‘local’.

All of this hints at growing desire from consumers, not at the expense of less branded, nationally available food & drink.

Yes, energy costs are high. However that just forced us to change our consumption, so we’ve managed to reduce from 100kw/ day to 37kw/day.
What are your biggest business pressures?
had any surprise sellers this year?
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 60.4 57.6 20.1 48.9 9.4 Local Produce Cakes & pastries Homemade products Cheese Free-from items Crisps ENERGY COSTS COST OF STOCK, MARGINS OR WASTAGE FEWER CUSTOMERS / CUSTOMERS SPENDING LESS FINDING/RETAINING GOOD STAFF PREMISES / LEASE COSTS 41 FINE FOOD DIGEST BEST BRANDS 2022-23


44 FINE FOOD DIGEST BEST BRANDS 2022-23 handmade puddings 45 Great Taste Awards across our range Minimum 6-week fridge life, also suitable for the freezer Search: burtree puddings Golden Syrup Pudding & Sticky Syrup Sauce StickyToffee Pudding & Sticky Toffee Sauce get’s time to little_pod real. LittlePod make it simple to use quality real vanilla. Join our #campaignforrealvanilla to support sustainable farming & discover the true taste of vanilla with our award-winning ingredients range. discover the true taste vanilla with our range. real vanilla in your home. from the home of real vanilla... handmade pies with golden butter pastry made at a sustainable farm in the highlands of Scotland delivered frozen, fully ready to be baked

The winners take it all

With an ever-growing list of speciality food and drink products to choose from, knowing what to stock can be difficult. To help you see the wood from the trees, FFD has collated a list of items that topped regional, national and international competitions this year, starting with the Great Taste 2022 Golden Forks.

Great Taste

Great Taste Supreme Champion and Golden Fork for Best International Food and Drink

Fermented Fresh Green Kampot Peppercorns Kadode Kampot Pepper UK

Great Taste Golden Fork for Charcuterie Product of the Year

Wild Highland Venison Salami with Juniper, Smoked with Peat Highland Charcuterie and Smoke House highlandcharcute. com

Great Taste Golden Fork from East Anglia  Blackcurrant Ice Cream

Alder Tree

Great Taste Golden Fork from Ireland  Natural Yogurt Scúp Gelato

Great Taste Golden Fork from London  Jemima’s Tahini Granola Jemima’s Deli jemimasdeli. com

Great Taste Golden Fork from the Midlands  Nduja & Honey Mezzaluna GCL Food Ingredients

Great Taste Golden Fork from the North of England  Black Lime Chutney Mr Vikki’s

Great Taste Golden Fork from Northern Ireland  Wild Sika Venison Loin Baronscourt Estate

Great Taste Golden Fork from Scotland  Scottish Heather Comb Honey Heather Hills Farm heatherhills.

Great Taste Golden Fork from the South East and Great Taste Startisan of the Year Noya SauceSoya Sauce Alternative Sozyë

Great Taste Golden Fork from the South West and Great Taste Small Artisan Producer of the Year Blaisdon Red Plum Jam The Artisan Kitchen

Great Taste Golden Fork from Wales  Indonesian Sumatran Fairtrade Organic Bay Coffee Roasters

Nigel Barden Heritage Award  Dry-aged Lamb Hogget Chops Martins Meats

Taste of Kent Awards

Kent Dairy Product of the Year Kentish Blue Kingcott Dairy

Kent Spirit of the Year Damson Gin Copper Rivett Distillery

Kent Beer of the Year Session Pale Ale Cellar Head Brewing Company

Kent Wine of the Year Balfour Brut Rosé 2018 Balfour Winery

Kent Cider of the Year Apple Pie Cider Turners Cider

Kent Ambient Product of the Year Honey Bray’s Bees

Kent Bakery or Confectionery Product of the Year

Salted Caramel Millionaires Shortbread Macie Cakes maciecakess

New Kent Food and Drink Product of the Year

Rescue Range Broccoli & Stilton Soup Curd & Cure

British Pie Awards

Supreme Champion

Gluten Free Mooless Pie Pieminister


World Champion Cheese

Vorderfultigen Gourmino

Le Gruyère AOP surchoix Interprofession du Gruyère

Best New Cheese

Antoine de Fribourg Walo von Mühlenen Switzerland

Best Welsh Cheese

THELMA’S Traditional Welsh Caerffili Caws Cenarth Wales

Best South African Cheese

Woolworths mature Gouda 10 months Lactalis South Africa

Best Italian Cheese

Gorgonzola Dolce DOP De’ Magi

Best Spanish Cheese

Pata de Mulo Curado Los Payuelos Quesería Artesanal Los Payuelos

Best Scottish Cheese Blackmount Errington Cheese

Best Latin American Cheese Lua Cheia Serra das Antas

Best Le Gruyère Cheese

Vorderfultigen Gourmino Le Gruyère AOP surchoix Interprofession du Gruyère

Best Ukrainian Cheese Syrna Torbynka Stanislavs’ka Syrovarnya

Best Female Cheesemaker

Anne Wigmore Village Maid Cheese

Best American Cheese Greensward Murray’s Cheese

Best Smoked Cheese

Syrna Torbynka Stanislavs’ka Syrovarnya

Best Australian Cheese

Kris Lloyd Artisan Anthill Woodside Cheese Wrights

Best Japanese Cheese Sachi Shiawase cheese

Best Canadian Cheese Oveja Negra The Udder Way Artisan Cheese the-udderway-artisancheese-company.

Best British Cheese

Spenwood Village Maid Cheese

Best SCA Member Cheese

Devon Blue Ticklemore Cheese ticklemorecheesedairy.

Best Norwegian Cheese

Rørosblå Eggen Gardsysteri AS

The Ann-Marie Dyas Award for Best Artisan Cheese

Sinodun Hill Norton and Yarrow Cheese

Exceptional Contribution to Cheese

Patricia Michelson La Fromagerie

Best Wholesaler

Acorn Dairy

Best New Business and Best Use of Local Produce on a Menu Homestead Kitchen thehomestead

Best Independent Retailer Yolk Farm

Best Free-From Gluten Free Yorkshire Steak & Potato Pie Geo. Middlemiss & Son Geomiddlemiss butchers

Best Bakery Product

Golden Syrup Pudding with Sticky Syrup Sauce Burtree Puddings burtree

Best Pork Pie 1lb Pork Pie J A Mounfield & Son

Best Fresh Meat Grain Fed Chicken Soanes Poultry

Best Ice Cream/Dairy Lemon Posset Burtree Puddings

Best Savoury Condiment Chorizo Jam Town End Farm Shop

Best Confectionary

Red Fruit Tea and Chocolate Macaron Florian Poirot

Best Pantry

Winter Indulgence – Organic Granola with Chocolate, Orange & Almond Side Oven Bakery

Best Prepared Meat (Cold)

York Air Dried Ham Lishman’s of Ilkley

Best Prepared Meat (Hot)

Dry Cured Plain Back Bacon Hinchliffe’s Farm Shop

Best Ready to Eat Borek Rosalind’s Larder rosalindslarder

Best Cheese Yorkshire Blue Shepherds Purse

Best Beer Heartland Pennine Brewing Co

Best Wine or Spirit Yorkshire Gin Rudgate Brewery

Best Hot Beverage Yemen Fawaz Ali Wahab Natural Dark Woods Coffee

Best Cold Beverage Carrot, Apple, Ginger, Lemon & Turmeric Cold Pressed Juice SOWN

Best Sweet Preserve Strawberry Jam Just Delicious justdelicious/

The Judy Bell Yorkshire Food Hero Tom Mellor Spirit of Yorkshire Distillery & World Top Brewery

Best Fish and Seafood

Asian Style Potted Crab and Shrimp AliBiltonCooks

Best Fresh Produce Sweetcorn The Organic Pantry

Best Independent Retailer

Yolk Farm

Supreme Product Champion 2022  York Air Dried Ham Lishman’s of Ilkley

World Cheese Awards 2022 Deliciouslyorkshire Taste Awards 2022
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48 Golden Fork North of England Wholesale coffee and equipment supply, with curated POS support Award-winning, beautifully presented retail coffees Barista training school and café consultancy We’re a Certified B-Corp, and we give 2% of our turnover to community projects Holme Mills Marsden West Yorkshire HD7 6L INFO@DARKWOODSCOFFEE.CO.UK DARKWOODSCOFFEE.CO.UK Adventurous coffee, hand-roasted in the West Yorkshire Pennines GREAT TASTE 2022 3 STAR WINNERS Ethiopia Ardent Yirgacheffe Carbonic Maceration - Panama La Huella “Café de Panama” Red Honey Panama La Huella “Café de Panama“ 100% Geisha Natural - Ethiopia Ardent Yirgacheffe Carbonic Maceration Sticky Toffee Pudding Marmalade Flapjack Almond Slice Sticky Toffee Pudding Apple&Red Onion Chutney Cherry Berry Flapjack Fruit Cake




49 World’s Best Speciality Cider Llagar Valveran Valveran 20 Manzanas World’s Best Still Cider Henry Westons British Vintage Cider World’s Best Rosé Cider Thistly Cross Cider Strawberry World’s Best Sour & Wild Beer Vieille Brune Queue De Charrue vanuxeem .com World’s Best Stout & Porter Memorable Moments Bullrock Stout Original Beer Company original World’s Best Flavoured Beermark Necessary Evil Bourbon Barrel Aged Stout Thornbridge thornbridge brewery. Supreme Champion Ashcombe King Stone Dairy Reserve Champion St Jude St Jude Cheese Best English Cheese Ashcombe King Stone Dairy Best Scottish Cheese Morangie Brie Highland Fine Cheeses Best Welsh Cheese Celtic Promise Caws Teifi Cheese Best Irish Cheese Kilmora Killeen Farmhouse killeenfarmhouse British Cheese Awards Violife Drink Product of the Year Free Damm Non-Alcoholic Lager Damm Brewery Small Independent Brand of the Year Voakes Free From Large Independent Brand of the Year NOMO World’s Best Dark Beer Grand Cru Brune Cap D’Ona World’s Best IPA Black Shark Camba shop.camba-bavaria. de World’s Best Lager Celebrator Doppelbock Ayinger World’s Best No & Low Alcohol Freak Kriek Zero Point Three Feel Free Merry Cherry Beer The Flying Dutchman shop.flying dutchman brewing company. com World’s Best Pale Beer Tropic Ale Vale Brewing World’s Best Wheat Beer Weizeneisbock Schützengarten World’s Best Speciality Beer Vine Song 5 Indie Alehouse Free From Awards Double Gold Traditional Lemon and Norfolk Lavender Marmalade Season’s Bounty Double Gold Savoury Orange Marmalade with Rose Lohas Edibles Rose Garden Double Gold International Red Lemon Marmalade Enami Farm Double Gold with Alcohol Seville Orange Marmalade with Greengage Gin Liqueur Irene’s Kitchen Delights kitchen.delights/
Best Flavoured Cider Appie Le Brut au Miel
Best Flavoured Perry Appie Le Poiré Gingembre
Best Sparkling Perry Hills Cider Pear
Marmalade Awards World Beer Awards World CIDER Awards 2022 AWARDS ROUND-UP FINE FOOD DIGEST BEST BRANDS 2022-23


Supreme Champion Product

Hot Smoked Devon Trout Blakewell Smokehouse blakewellsmokehouse.

Champion Bacon

Free Range Traditional Dry Cured Unsmoked Back Bacon Rumwell Farm Shop rumwellfarmshop. com

Champion Beer Entire Stout Hop Back Brewery

Champion Burger

Venison and Chorizo Burgers

The Gamekeepers Larder Champion Sauce & Accompaniment Rose and Strawberry Red Wine Vinegar Wild Cornwall

Champion Cheese Open Air Dairy Mature Cheddar Open Air Dairy

Champion Chocolate Mixed Box of 12 Handmade Chocolates Hobbs Chocolates hobbschocolates.

Champion Cider Rum Barrell Aged Cider Crackington Cider Company crackington

Champion Confectionary Clotted Cream Fudge Baytree Candies baytreecandies.

Champion Charcuterie Dorset Coppa Capreolous Fine Foods capreolusfinefoods.

Champion Dairy Product

Devonshire Luxury Layered Lemon Curd Yogurt in glass jar Langage Farm

Champion Eggs Free Range Eggs Larkhill

Champion Fish Hot Smoked Devon Trout Blakewell Smokehouse blakewellsmokehouse.

Champion Free From Product

Eton Mess Cupcakes Gluten Free Zoe Glutenfreezoe

Champion Ice Cream & Sorbet Frozen Mango Yoghurt Taste of Sidmouth

Champion Sausage Westaways Traditional Hogs Pudding Westaways Sausages

Champion Cold Drink Herb Verde Drinks Kitchen

Champion Hot Drink Super Eight Seasonal Espresso Blend The Devon Coffee Company devoncoffeecompany. com

Champion Meat & Poultry Sika Venison Leg Joint The Gamekeepers Larder

Champion Pickles, Chutneys and Relishes Apple Choondo Tamarind Tree Totnes

Champion Sweet Preserve

Raspberry Jam Waterhouse Fayre

Champion Snacks Red Onion Chutney Scotch Egg Surf’n’Turf Kitchen

Champion Ready Meal Kala Mutton Tamarind Tree Totnes

Champion Savoury Bakery

Brisket Pie Bobbie’s Bakes bobbiescakesandbakes

Champion Vegan Product

Organic Cornish Saffron Mafaldine Cornwall Pasta Co

Champion Sweet Bakery & Desserts Lemon Shorties Just Like Mumma’s

London Spirits Competition

Best Spirits of The Year


Bareksten Navy Strength Gin Oss Craft Distillery, Norway

Distillery of the Year 2022

Lookout Beverages Group, Mauritius lookoutbeveragesgroup. com

Best Spirits of The Year (by Quality)

Bareksten Navy Strength Gin, Norway

Best Spirits of The Year (by Value)

Samuel Gelston’s Single Malt Irish Whiskey, Ireland (Halewood Artisanal Spirits)

Best Spirits of The Year (by Package)

Bareksten Navy Strength Gin Oss Craft Distillery, Norway

Best Vodka of The Year 2022

Vestal Vodka, Poland (Halewood Artisanal Spirits)

Best Rum of The Year 2022

Rum Nation Panama 21 Aged Years Rum Nation International, Panama

Best Tequila of The Year 2022

Tequila Don Fulano Imperial DF Desarrollo Global, Mexico

Best Gin of The Year 2022

Bareksten Navy Strength Gin Oss Craft Distillery, Norway barekstenspirits. com

Best Whisky of The Year 2022 Spirit Hound Straight Malt Whiskey Spirit Hound Distillers, United States spirithounds. com

Champion Wines, Spirits and Liqueurs Loveday Golden Hour Gin Loveday Distilling, The Falmouth Distilling Co

Best Brandy of The Year 2022 Grappa Riserva Invecchiata in Botti da Whiskey Distilleria Sibona Italy distillerias

Best Liqueur of The Year 2022 Amaro San Marco Sarandrea Marco & c, Italy

Best Cognac of The Year 2022 Ferrand Cognac 1840 Original Formula Maison Ferrand, France

51 FINE FOOD DIGEST BEST BRANDS 2022-23 01740 629 529 | | Sustainably farmed Competitive & stable pricing High in protein & fibre BRC certified products Our award-winning flour is produced from the finest ancient grains which are sustainably grown in the beautiful British countryside. Our entire range carry the highly sought after Great Taste 2 and 3 star awards, in recognition of outstanding quality and flavour. Available in 1kg and 20kg bags. Minimum order 2 boxes of 10 × 1 kg bags. No delivery charges. Call or email today for a trade price list

Innovative pairings for the elevated cheeseboard

Britain is a nation built on cheese, we’ve been enjoying it since the stone age and no British dinner party is complete without the addition of a cheeseboard. Comté is the delicious, hard cheese from the Jura Massif that will elevate your status from cheese arranger to tastemaker.

A FOODIE FAVOURITE, Comté also pairs beautifully with a selection of unexpected accompaniments.

Gourmands don’t have to settle for bog standard chutneys and grapes. Why not tempt your guests with Comté and chocolate, Comté and cherries or Comté and chilli?

Comté boasts a range of flavours with some people able to taste everything from yoghurt to pepper. This makes it the perfect cheese to experiment with flavour combinations that will surprise even the most seasoned sampler.

Comté’s delicious flavour originates from the raw milk of the Montbéliarde and French Simmental cows of the Jura Massif in France, each with its own hectare of land to graze on. The cows eat grass and a wide range of plants and flowers out on the pasture in the summer, and locally harvested hay in the winter, producing high-quality milk that gives Comté its very special taste, scent, colour and texture.

Every single day, the milk is brought in from a collection of local farms and transformed into large 40kg wheels of Comté cheese by small village dairies, known as fruitières. These dairies use the skills and expertise of their ancestors to make sure each batch of the cheese is at its most perfect.

The wheels are then moved to local ageing

during the ageing process, regularly turning, salting and rubbing each one with brine solution for up to 24+ months. It is down to their experience and expertise to decide when the cheese is ready for consumption. The cheese’s taste is affected by everything from the altitude at which the cows were grazing and at what time of year.

As a result, every piece of Comté is different. Some have a firm, nutty texture and others a more floral flavour. Most importantly, every wheel is unique and deserving of its own special partner to bring out its unique taste.

Comté has been lovingly made for more than ten centuries. Farmers, fruitières and affineurs of the Jura Massif region of Eastern France produce the internationally popular cheese every single day of the year. It has AOC status, meaning it

been using to create the cheese exclusively in this region, integrating Comté into every aspect of community life.

If you would like to stock Comté and enjoy a slice of the potential profits of this unique cheese, head to are-you-a-cheese-reseller/ to contact us, as well as downloading promotional materials to support your sales.

If you would like to stock Comté and enjoy a slice of the potential profits of this unique cheese, head to to contact us, as well as downloading promotional materials to support your sales.

for Comté
promotional feature
55 FINE FOOD DIGEST BEST BRANDS 2022-23 Love in the selection THE TASTE OF THE FINEST ENGLISH PEPPERMINT 3 1 Great Tasteaward s Find out more about our award-winning chocolates and teas at For 25 years we’ve been bringing the taste of the finest English peppermint to your shelves, from our family farm in Hampshire.


When it comes to branding, many people tend to focus on the visual aspects. But words are a vital component of a successful and eye-catching identity – and there is one that is especially important.

Even in our highly stylised and visually obsessed world, the words used in branding are important. We’ve all come across a badly named product - the quality of the item may be superb but the moniker doesn’t convey what it is, what it stands for or why anyone should buy it.

In the labour of love that is product development, a name should be a crucial and well-considered step.

Food entrepreneur and co-founder of startup events business Bread & Jam, Jason Gibb, thinks a good one should stick to simple rules.

“Keep it short, easy to spell, and easy to pronounce,” says Gibb, whose company helps fledgling food and drink brands get set up and grow. He has seen quite a few examples of both good and bad names.

Even when he founded his own olive oil brand, NUDO (which as you may have guessed, means ‘naked’ in Italian), he held these principles in mind. The slightly risqué name referred to the fact that the olives were organic, in a catchy two-syllable word.

“Memorability is crucially important,” agrees Jayne Noblet, the owner of branding and design agency The Collaborators, adding that a word can be memorable for how it looks as well as how it sounds.

“Look at it, say it,” she says. “If it’s something new, say it on the telephone, because if you’re not comfortable with going, ‘Hello, this is Brand X’ then it’s probably not going to be a name for you.

“The shorter the name, obviously, the bigger you can get it and when you write a name down, if it’s aesthetically pleasing, it will help. If the characters are visually balanced, then you know you’re on to a good thing from a design perspective.”

And although it might feel like you should, Noblet advises not to set the name first when

you’re starting a company.

“People who think they’re going to launch something go, ‘What are we going to call it?’ and don’t really think of what they’re trying to do with the overall vision of the brand,” she says.

“Resist the temptation to put a name to something before you work out why you exist, what it is that you’re doing and why you’re doing it.”

In the case of companies like Dorset Sea Salt, says Noblet, it’s provenance that is a trump card over its rivals. The name for ProperCorn – which set out to make superior version of a highly familiar product – sums it up perfectly. Quaker’s Oat So Simple contains the proposition for the world’s first microwavable oats in its name.

Adam Tynan went on a similar journey when he sought a name for KEPT, his soon-tolaunch gourmet plant-based meals in cans.

He had originally planned to name the company Edmund’s after his grandfather, but he and his business partner decided against it. This is because they wanted to prioritise purpose over any kind of identity. KEPT has been developed to dispel the ideas around what the tin can traditionally does by offering a premium product, and emphasising the format’s green credentials.

“I was talking about being the ‘Charlie Bigham’s’ of canned food, and it might feel like the obvious thing to do is to have a name like that”, says Tynan, “but the idea is that it’s meant to be a convenience product, and we’re now much more about sustainability as well.”

“I wanted a name that captured that philosophy.”

With KEPT, the plan is to extend the use of language to help customers connect with the brand.

Keep it short, easy to spell, and easy to pronounce
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“Being able to be playful with the language you create for yourself is super helpful in steering you a little bit,” says Tynan. “We looked at how could we use KEPT as a dropping off point, so – especially with sustainability – we can have ‘a KEPT promise’ and ‘KEPT in touch’ is the name of our Contact page on the website.”

“We talk a lot about, ‘Yes we can’, meaning ‘Yes, we can do it’ – and that’s what we do.”

Another tool that can be used to convey purpose is a strapline.

“If you can have two or three words to help carry your name and sum up your proposition and your positioning, then that really works,” says Jayne Noblet.

“You don’t necessarily have to put it on packaging all the time, but have it in your brand world, be it on social media, outer packaging or just on your website. A very good, short one to go with your name really helps.”

Aside from communicating a raison d’être, Jason Gibb believes that a name should also be a plausible and practical tool for communicating.

“Is your name available as a URL?” he says. “Is it available on social media channels? These are questions worth asking.”

If it isn’t, though, Gibb says that isn’t a



Even if you are already operating commercially, if you discover another company with the same name, don’t hold off on rebranding. The longer you wait, the more costly a decision that might become.

Registering as a trademark – whether as a name, as a logo or both – can cost as little as £200 and can be done online by visiting intellectual-property-office

Further down the line, this will add a lot of value to your business if you do try and sell it.

To test out whether another company already exists with the name you’d like to register, visit the website and check both domain names and general IP.

reason to panic. “There are ways of getting around that. If, say, isn’t available, you can always use eatholymoly. com, or something like that.”

Another solution is to make up a word, he says, because “then you don’t have any of those conflicts”. Just make sure you stick to rules about pronounceability and length. And make sure it looks good.

If you go down the neologism route, it needs to back up the reason you’re doing something.

“I worked on Snack-a-Jacks, which for me does deliver that quick snack idea which it was trying to do. Same with KitKat, if you think about it, it sounds a little bit like the experience,” says Jayne Noblet.

Alternatively, she adds, a brand can sew two words together – like Vac Pack, Hot Pockets and Jus-Rol – to resolve any ownership issues at the same time (see boxout). “It expresses exactly what you do and it works well.”

When it all boils down to it, a name isn’t everything. Gibb says that start-ups will not achieve prominence by solely concentrating on their name.

“It’s just part of the armoury of getting information across as instantaneously as possible,” he says. “People are making

If in doubt, consult an intellectual property lawyer.

purchasing decisions in just a few seconds, and the name is part of that, but there are loads of other clues.”

Tynan agrees: “You can put too much into what your name will mean to people.” He adds that the main aim is simply to convey your brand and doesn’t have to achieve anything more than that.

And even though it might seem like a costly option, Noblet says existing businesses shouldn’t be frightened to change their name, either.

“If you really think it can benefit your business, if your name isn’t taking you anywhere and you keep excusing it, maybe it’s time to let loose.”

“It will obviously have an impact, it will mean starting again with everything but, if even Snickers managed it with Marathon, I wouldn’t worry too much.”

Maybe it’s time to start thinking about what’s in your name.

Being able to be playful with the language you create for yourself is helpful in steering you a little bit
Resist the temptation to put a name to something before you work out why you exist.
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Here at Chapter 7, whisky works a little differently. We don't produce or distil whisky. Instead, we go hunting through various vaults and cellars of distilleries and brokers across Scotland to find unique, one-off whiskies.

We buy single casks, that can not and will not be reproduced, meaning what goes into a Chapter 7 bottle is always special.

We bottle the whisky by hand in our dedicated facility in Scotland. Typically only 250-300 bottles come from each cask and once they are gone, they are gone. Only to ever be enjoyed by those lucky enough to have got their hands on one.

We also hunt for casks on behalf of clients. If you would like your own unique whisky chapter then get in touch. We can find a suitable cask, bottle it and have it sent anywhere in the world.

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Let’s be having you

The FFD editorial team rarely raise their heads above the parapet to praise products but it’s that time of year where they pipe up for their favourites from 2022.

Cocoa Dusted Peanuts Manilife

Spiced Coppa Tempus

In June, I went to my first food show as the deputy editor of Fine Food Digest, and met the Tempus team. I had barely said ‘hello’ before I was offered a selection of charcuterie, each slice more decadently marbled and richly flavoured than the previous.

I wasn’t surprised to find out that they make everything using older, former breeding animals, scientifically cured using the Equilibrium method, then carefully cured, moulded and dried, explaining the exceptional flavour and melting pockets of fat.

Tempus’s Spiced Coppa, cured in black pepper, cinnamon, juniper, and red wine, was my favourite.

Pistachio, Almond & Lemon Gelato Hackney Gelato

I remember when trying to find pistachio products in the UK was like going on a truffle hunt. Now, as Britain continues to discover and embrace the diversity of Italian food, the pistachio rules supreme: it’s everywhere from pizza bases to doughnut fillings, and to my delight, has been transformed into many iterations of gelato. Hackney Gelato had already mastered the plain pistachio flavour, but this takes the humble nut to another level. With the brightness of the citrus and the third luxurious dimension of almonds, it tastes like what it feels like to be on the Amalfi coast, minus the World Heritage views.

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the past five years, you’ll have had the chance to try at least one of Manilife’s peanut butters. I love the Deep Roast Crunchy kind so much that I keep gifting it to confused friends on no particular occasion, just so that they can share my enthusiasm.

Manilife’s latest release, Cocoa Dusted Peanuts, might just save me from sneaking surreptitious spoonfuls of nut butter straight from the jar (although, if we’re being honest, they probably won’t). They’re like a gourmet version of the famed chocolate coated peanut

Old Roan

The Curlew Dairy, Yorkshire

I have a deepseated love for British territorial cheeses, so was always going to love this new raw milk Wensleydale, made by Ben and Sam Spence in a converted garage at their home in Wensleydale. Buttery, flakey and moreish, it’s a cheese that is hard to stop eating.

Pevensey Blue

The Pevensey Cheese Company, East Sussex

Pevensey Blue started out as a Gorgonzolastyle cheese, but Martin and Hazel Tkalez have tweaked the recipe so it now has its own unique personality. Less gooey than Gorgonzola, but still rich and rounded, it has a complex fruity flavour and long umami note at the finish.

mouth, not in your hands.

Pitchfork Cheddar

The Trethowan Brothers, Somerset

It’s not a new cheese, but the sheer consistency of Pitchfork is remarkable. I’ve tasted this raw milk cheddar at various different points throughout the year with delegates on the Guild of Fine Food’s Cheese Retail course and it has been nothing short of sensational every single time. It was so deliciously brothy and savoury on the last course that it actually left me lost for words - not a common occurrence.

Tanwen DawnHiscox Deputy editor
Patrick McGuigan Cheese writer
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Berry Christmas wine

Two Raccoons

I love everything about this product, from the company name to the backstory (“born in the bins of Aberdeen”) and the concept of making wine from surplus fruit. Many products claim to be sustainable, but this is the real deal - this waste-busting start-up is even developing novel methods to grow mushrooms on leftover fermented fruit pulp. It is currently making wines from blackberries, blackcurrants and strawberries, but my personal favourite is its fruity mulled wine which combines blackcurrant and blackberry with a Nordic twist of gløgg spices and Danish hygge.

Organic Cornish Pasta CornwallPastaCo

I often think about upping sticks and moving to Cornwall and now there is another reason to want to live there: pasta. This is not just run-of-the-mill durum wheat pasta with regional branding. CornwallPastaCo has gone the whole hog with localising pastasourcing local and foraged ingredients such as beetroot, squid ink and Cornish saffron. The range takes in eight shortdried pastas, including Organic Cornish Saffron Malfadine, Red Wine Radiatori and Organic Campanelle.

Fine de Champagne Chocolate Truffles


With over 20 awards to their name, these organic vegan truffles with distilled organic Champagne are a veteran on the gifting chocolate scene, but I hadn’t ever been on the receiving end of them until this year. They live up to their reputation of providing a smooth, melt-in-the-mouth experience rounded off with a tongue-tingling, aromatic Champagne finish. Their new matt grey and pink livery only reinforces their elegant simplicity.

Explorer Spiced Rum

The Yorkshire Explorer

So often, the idea of spiced rum is better than the reality of when it hits your palate. I was flagged down by The Yorkshire Explorer Distillery at a trade show one morning and, honestly, I couldn’t have been in less of a mood for a tot. But this sweet-salty spirit –made with Yorkshire sea kelp as well as locally foraged heather and honey – was a revelation. You could sip it neat at 10am (like I did) or mix it into longer drinks at a more sociable hour and it wouldn’t disappoint. If gin is more your thing, the rest of the distillery’s range also has bags of character, provenance and classy branding.

Espresso Martini Ice Cream


As a committed Tiramisu-hater, I believe coffee and alcohol are things you should have with pudding – not in it. Or at least I did, until trying this ice cream. It’s the very antithesis of something I would actively choose but Mario’s has got the balance of vodka, espresso and coffee liqueur spot on. And it all blends perfectly with the producer’s famously creamy base product.

Goan Beer Sticks

Curing Rebels

This was another product sampled at a slightly inappropriate juncture – at an awards event in the basement of a restaurant – but I never pass up an opportunity to tackle sweat-inducingly hot food in public. Essentially it’s a flavoursome Eastern European Vindaloo be for everybody. said, it should of appeal both as a retail item foodservice

Lynda Searby Features Writer Luxury Dairy Ice Cream
Michael Lane Editor
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