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June 2021 Volume 22 Issue 5

Northern nous How Blacks Corner operates across two sites in Tyne & Wear

ALSO INSIDE Guide to importers & distributors New blue cheese mould discovered Exclusive speciality market research



Tel: 0345 307 3454 2

June 2021 | Vol.22 Issue 5



As things continue to open up, at what point does the customer’s tolerance for teething problems start to break?


June 2021 Volume 22 Issue 5

By Michael Lane, editor

Like all things the internet has spawned, online review culture is a blessing and a curse. For us reserved Brits, it has afforded everyone a chance to complain (or offer feedback!) in relative digital safety. It’s also made us scrutinise our experiences far more forensically. I found myself drawn into the reviewer’s mindset last month when talking with a (non-industry) friend about their visit to a recently opened farm shop. It started when they sent me a photo of the cheese counter asking what they should buy while they were there. There were a couple of decent specimens in the serveover but it was almost criminally empty. And no wonder they were texting me for advice. The member of staff serving them said nothing during the whole transaction. Their café lunch was just as dispiriting. I’ll spare you the details but service soon deteriorated as the tables filled up.

Throughout the post-match analysis with my friend, I took up the farm shop’s side. It was a Monday, I reasoned, so perhaps they had a great weekend and hadn’t quite managed to re-stock in time. Also, indoor dining restrictions had only just been lifted. Of course, staff would be rusty. The thing is, I understand (albeit vicariously) how hard it is to run any kind of food outlet – but most members of the public don’t. Rather than dwell on the mistakes, this example does raise a bigger question. As things continue to open up and footfall mushrooms during the summer, at what point does the customer’s tolerance for teething problems start to break? They go to a farm shop or deli to buy good food and pay a premium for proper service and some knowledgeable advice. Right now, the public are in a positive and mildly forgiving mood. Everyone’s getting back on their feet. But if retailers get too much wrong,

EDITOR’S CHOICE Tom Dale, assistant editor

Northern nous

Chiltern Charcuterie Smokey Coppa

How Blacks Corner operates across two sites in Tyne & Wear

ALSO INSIDE Guide to importers & distributors New blue cheese mould discovered Exclusive speciality market research

Cover image by Donna-Lisa Healy

This last month, as restrictions began to ease, FFD was able to get on the road to explore the nation’s (almost) post-COVID food & drink landscape. The pandemic has seen many new creations, and Chiltern Charcuterie’s new owners have been




Assistant editor: Tom Dale

Sales director: Sally Coley

Fax: +44 (0) 1747 824065

Editor: Michael Lane

Art director: Mark Windsor

Contributors: Nick Baines, Donna-Lisa Healy, Patrick McGuigan, Jules Mercer, Lynda Searby

Sales manager: Ruth Debnam

Sales executives: Becky Haskett, Sam Coleman ADDRESS Guild House, 23b Kingsmead Business Park Shaftesbury Road, Gillingham, Dorset SP8 5FB United Kingdom

then people aren’t going to come back to give them a second chance. Tyne & Wear deli-restaurant Blacks Corner (see page 10), offers a good example of how to preserve the expected experience. And hopefully there’s more in this issue to inspire you. If you’re struggling to fill counters, our product round-up (page 25 onwards) will help. If you can’t quite gauge sentiment in the market, have a look at the results of exclusive research we’ve worked on with Speciality & Fine Food Fair (page 30). And, if you just need cheering up, there’s a heartening story of COVID survival at Jorge Artisan Foods (Deli of the Month, page 60). Even if consumers do discover their old sharp tongues, Fine Food Digest is never going to be critically reviewing you. But we’ll do our best to help you keep any keyboard warriors at bay during what will hopefully be a busy summer.

busy working on a host of new lines for the stalwart charcuterie producer. One of these is its Smokey Coppa – so new its name is yet to be confirmed. Its delicate smokiness is balanced with a spicy warmth from the cure and creaminess from its melt-in-the-mouth fat. The new line will be available from late July or early August this year. Keep your eyes out for our feature on the producer in a future edition of FFD.

Tel: +44 (0) 1747 825200

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Vol.22 Issue 5 | June 2021


Launching July 1... Nothing sweet about it!

The UK’s first ready to bake savoury dough biscuits – delicious any time of day. Ready to eat in 15-20 minutes.

Enjoy with salads, soups, pasta or simply on their own. Other delicious flavours include Jalapeno Cheddar, Chilli Cumin and Sundried Tomato with Oregano.




June 2021 | Vol.22 Issue 5


Time running out for indies to prepare for Natasha’s Law By Greg Pitcher

Key bodies have urged independent food retailers to prepare now for sweeping changes to food labelling requirements, known as Natasha’s Law, that come into force later this year. The Guild of Fine Food and global food safety consultancy Navitas stressed the importance of getting to grips with the Food Information Amendment ahead of it becoming enforceable from 1st October. Created after lobbying by the parents of teenager Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, who died after suffering an allergic reaction to an ingredient in a Pret a Manger baguette, the legislation will make it a legal duty for retailers to label all food prepackaged for direct sale on their premises with full ingredients and correct emphasis on allergens (see box). Kirstie Jones of Navitas told FFD: “Natasha’s Law

All food that is pre-packaged on a business’s premises will be subject to new labelling requirements

will affect all businesses that work within the food and hospitality industry. With regulations continuing to be updated, ensuring that staff are suitably trained is key. “Although the law does not come into effect until October, we encourage businesses to get a head start on training staff and getting themselves prepared. Since the newest legislation has stemmed in part from tragic circumstances, businesses can’t afford to be behind

when it comes to upholding food safety.” Jones said digital management was a useful technique to help retailers keep their customers safe. “Digital food safety and allergen management can aid businesses by storing all allergen and ingredient information for food items, as well as supplier information, all of which can be accessed anywhere and is an effective tool for tracking and traceability,” she said. The Guild of Fine Food

Getting ready for allergen law takes time, say retailers Independent food retailers already gearing up for Natasha’s Law have encouraged others to realise the scale of the challenge. At Lishman’s of Ilkley, Emma Lishman said the Yorkshire-based butcher was aiming to be ready with its labels and processes by August to give itself a bedding-in period before the legislation comes into effect on 1st October. A huge amount of preparation work was required to get things right, she added. “Since the COVID pandemic started, we’ve been pre-packing a lot more products, because of contactless collections and home deliveries,” Lishman said. “Fortunately we have a system that links to our tills but we have hundreds of products to look at. If

I decide to make a pork & apple sausage, I will have to have the full ingredient list – not just pork and apple but everything that’s in the rusk I buy. “If our supplier can’t provide our usual rusk, and we use something else with different ingredients, we might use it in 20 prepacked sausages and have to change the labels on all of them.” Tim Belcher, proprietor at Wiltshire deli Bloomfields Fine Foods, said he was about to undertake some online training himself before rolling it out to the rest of his staff. “It is every caterer’s nightmare that something happens to a customer,” he said. “You have to protect those with allergens. You have to install every level of protection you can.”

has prepared a document to help businesses in the sector get ready for the law change. “It’s important you start preparing for compliance,” the document states. “Businesses must put in place procedures for labelling for those products pre-packed for direct sale (PPDS) and meet legal obligations to ensure customer safety.” The Guild has urged retailers to follow a fourstep process with the acronym DELI. Its guidance states: “Decide what products you sell or intend to sell as PPDS and what labels you intend to use; Ensure you gather the correct information (recipes, ingredient specifications and allergen details); List the ingredients and allergens on labels with the relevant information; and Inform your staff of procedural changes and update or refresh any allergen training.” The document adds that being able to show you fully undertook due diligence concerning labelling will be critical to defending any claims brought against you under this new legislation.

IN BRIEF The chicken sandwich has been named nation’s Walter Smiththe Fine Foods favourite after research has announced the by mealof kitthree delivery closure stores service HelloFresh. in the Midlands. TheThe survey butchertallied chain Google revealed searches, Instagram over Christmas that its posts TikTok views to Denbyand Village, West determine the title. Bromwich and Coventry shops would stop trading, leaving it with 11 outlets – many of centre which are within Garden chain garden centres. Dobbies has opened the doors to its 71st store in Boston, Lincolnshire, Tracklements after acquiringhas the hired Ben Hallam Garden for former Johnsons the rolesite. of commercial Centre The new manager,also which includes opening includes identifying new market a Sainsbury’s food hall opportunities. Hallam concession, after the joins the Wiltshire-based supply deal between condiment specialist the two retailers was after 11 years atearlier dairy firm Yeo extended in 2021. Valley. Waitrose has Health food retailer reintroduced its ten food Planet Organic has sharing platter lines moved into the hot food after a major packaging delivery market and redesign. The sandwich, teamed up with high-end roll and wrap sharing service Supper, platters will nowwhich come willa courier a selection in cardboard base of to-go an items and sushi without outer case or from two Central London lid, cutting the packaging stores. by 65%.

What exactly does Natasha’s Law cover and how do you comply? Katie Chandler, partner at law firm TaylorWessing, answers your questions.

When exactly is a purchase covered by the new law? The answer is in the definition of pre-packed foods. Food is pre-packed when it is either fully or partly enclosed by the packaging; cannot be altered without opening or changing the packaging, and is ready for sale. Pre-packed food for direct sale (PPDS) is food that is packaged at the same place it is sold to consumers and is in

the packaging before it is ordered or selected. Made-to-order food is not included. What exactly is required by the legislation for items that do come under it? For those food products which fall within the meaning of PPDS, a label is required with the name of the food and a full ingredients list, in quantity order, with any of the 14 allergens emphasised within the list in bold, capital letters, contrasting colours or underlined.

What are the potential consequences of noncompliance? Failing to comply with allergen labelling laws is a serious issue. On top of the consumer safety risk, there are significant consequences for noncompliant businesses – Food Standards Agency enforcement action can include improvement notices, closure notices or even criminal prosecution. Reputational damage could destroy a food business and civil claims can be brought under the Consumer Protection Act 1984. Vol.22 Issue 5 | June 2021




Co-op looks to drive change with plant-based price cuts By Greg Pitcher

Pressure is mounting on vegan food prices after the Co-op dramatically slashed the cost of many plantbased products and urged competitors to follow suit. The supermarket chain – which boasts more than 2,500 stores – reduced some items in its GRO range by more than 50% in May to bring them in line with meat equivalents. A packet of vegan Sausages went from £3 to £1.45 overnight, while the cost of meat-free burgers tumbled from £3 to £1.35. Prices were cut on a total of 29 fresh, chilled and ambient vegan lines. The Co-op said the move was part of a 10-point plan to tackle climate change and move towards net-zero carbon emissions by 2040. It said it had spent £1.7 million to ‘close the price gap’ and that no supplier prices had been reduced. A spokesperson for the supermarket said: “We

Luscombe gets royal nod Having provided soft drinks to the UK’s most famous family for many years, Devon-based Luscombe Drinks has been awarded a Royal Warrant. The business was founded on a Dartmoor farm in 1975 by Gabriel David, and its blends of organic fruit and local spring water have long been a staple in independent delis and cafés. David said: “Our drinks have been enjoyed by the Royal family at home, served at palace events and Buckingham Palace tea parties for many years, so it is fantastic to now gain this formal recognition.” “As the hospitality industry starts to fully reopen we are optimistic that this marks the start of a fantastic post-lockdown future.” 6

June 2021 | Vol.22 Issue 5

firmly believe it shouldn’t cost shoppers more money to buy plant-based food, so as a business we’ve decided to invest over £1.7m ourselves to make our GRO range more accessible and affordable. “We feel this is an important change and would encourage other retailers and brands to consider doing the same.” Jason Gibb, founder of Bread & Jam festival, insisted independents should not fear supermarket price reductions. He said plant-based food production prices were in freefall due to investment in huge facilities on the Continent that could create basic items such as meatfree burgers, sausages and mince on an industrial scale. “I don’t think this will affect the speciality sector as they should be looking at products beyond these staples, where the opportunity is still huge,” he said. “I’m talking about plant-based cheese, dairy, eggs and baked goods. The



Co-op has made large cuts, some of over 50%, to the retail prices of its plant-based GRO range

innovation is coming via exciting emerging brands which are typically adopted and trialled first by the speciality sector.” Al Overton, buying director at natural-food supermarket Planet Organic, questioned how the Co-op was able to slash its prices so much – and also the long-term sustainability of low-cost meat. “It is unfair to judge without knowing the product well enough, but if its price has reduced from

£3 to £1.35, it would seem that it was overpriced to begin with,” he said. “But when has food pricing ever been simple? The other question is, if we are talking about sustainability of pricing, how sustainable is selling a pack of beef burgers for £1.35?” However, Lynne Elliot, chief executive of the Vegetarian Society said: “We support any move that makes plant-based food more accessible with fewer barriers to purchase.”

Winners unveiled at Taste of Kent Awards Confectionery brand Goupie, the Foodari home delivery service, and Tankerton Smokeshed were among the winners in this year’s Taste of Kent Awards. The awards, run by the food group Produced in Kent, were all unveiled in a ceremony that was live-streamed online last month. Foodari, a produce specialist which set up a home delivery service providing fruit & veg boxes as well as all manner of Kent-produced goods to consumers, was named Retailer of the Year – after winning a public vote. Having developed this service alongside its wholesale and foodservice operations, Foodari also picked up the Kent Diversification Award,

which was assessed by a panel of expert judges. The other winners chosen in self-nominated categories by the Awards’ judging team were Café Nucleus (Food Business of the Year), which has two branches in Chatham and one in Rochester, and chocolate confectionery producer Goupie, which took the inaugural Kent Sustainable Food & Drink Award. Meanwhile, a host of product awards

were voted for by the public, with Tankerton Smokeshed’s Scottish Smoked Salmon picking up the overall Food Product of the Year title, having won the Prepared Food Product of the Year category. Among the other winners were Brisket & Barrel’s Ketchup Smoké (Ambient Product of the Year), Session Pale Ale by Cellar Head Brewing Co (Beer of the Year) and Garage Coffee’s Maypole Blend (Coffee of the Year).

“Price parity is crucial to taking the plantbased revolution mainstream. Price decreases will lead to mass adoption which then leads to more interest in products at the cutting edge of innovation, which tends to end up at the speciality retailers, who can still charge a premium for first-tomarket products.” JULIE CLEIJNE, FOUNDER, SUSTAINABLE KITCHEN CONSULTANTS

“It’s not clear to me how the Co-op has made its decision without it having an impact on food producers. My concern would be that this may result in the need for other producers to reduce their prices to compete, resulting in further issues along the supply chain, with food producers and other players being negatively impacted.” AL OVERTON, BUYING DIRECTOR, PLANET ORGANIC

“Certainly it is good news if retailers no longer see plant-based products as margin earners. This used to be the challenge with organic, where any product where there is the potential for a price premium came with a higher margin expectation for the retailer, making it doubly expensive.”


PR AWN In North America, prawns are more commonly referred to as shrimp. In the UK, the word ‘shrimp’ connotes a smallness in size, which can lead to contradictory descriptions such as ‘jumbo shrimp’. Whatever your view on oxymorons it must be said that prawns are awfully good paired with Miller’s Harvest crackers.


PASTR AMI Pastrami first came to America by way of Romania, and kosher butcher, Sussman Volk, popularised the pastrami sandwich in 1887. This culinary tradition is continued today most famously by Katz’s of New York City, the deli featured in the iconic “I’ll have what she’s having” scene from ‘When Harry Met Sally’.

SMOKE D SALMON A ‘Salmon Run’ is the HAM When it comes to cracker toppings, we’re SAL AMI Salting has long been an effective means not hamming it up when we say that hamming it term given for the migration from ocean waters to of preserving meat. Roman Legionaries were often fresh rivers in order for salmon to spawn. up is one of the most popular ways to go. You can paid in salt, and the Latin word ‘salare’ forms the A ‘Chicken Run’ is a British animated comedy add a little twist by spooning on some mustard, basis of today’s ‘salary’. How much of yours you provided you don’t make a ham-fisted attempt at from 2000 that has no relation, but is well worth spend on salami is up to you, but pairing it with a watch. Perhaps while enjoying smoked salmon doing so of course. a Miller’s Three-Seed is an investment that on Miller’s Elements Water Crackers. pays dividends.

ANCHOVIES Fishermen prefer to catch C AVIAR One of the world’s oldest luxuries, HUMMUS This topping is claimed as the national anchovies by night, as their silver outlines glimmer caviar traditionally comes from the Caspian sea. dish by a number of countries, so Lebanon under the light of the moon. After trying anchovies When Alexander the Great’s armies toppled the attempted to settle the matter in 2010. Chef and tomatoes with Miller’s Damsel crackers, you Achaemenid Empire, they marched for over 1500 Ramzi Choueriri and 300 assistants whipped up might find yourself adopting similarly nocturnal miles before reaching the home of this delicacy. over 10 tons of the stuff, making the largest ever What lengths would you go to for a Miller’s Earth, bowl of hummus. Presumably Lebanon also has the habits, as midnight snacking ensures no one else can eat your supply. crème fraîche and caviar combo? world’s largest fridge.

The Miller’s family of crackers to partner fine food. TU NA Landlubbers are often surprised at the AVOC ADO King Louis XIV referred to avocados size of a fully grown tuna. The Atlantic bluefin as ‘bonne poires’ or ‘good pears’ as he believed tuna can grow over 6ft in length. We don’t suggest they helped restore his libido. Up to 3 million using that much on a Miller’s Damsel Charcoal photos of avocado on toast are uploaded to cracker. A small portion with a little mayonnaise Instagram every single day, which must mean they is enough to satisfy any fully grown human. are an effective aphrodisiac for followers of food porn. 4

June 2021 | Vol.22 Issue 5

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Tel 01438 | Vol.22 IssueEmail June 2021 813444 5

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Italian food market Eataly opens highly anticipated first UK outlet in London

IN BRIEF Renowned Norther Irish Walter Smith Fine Foods producer Finnebrogue has announced the Artisan has paidstores tribute closure of three to its “visionary” founder in the Midlands. The and chairman Denis Lynn butcher chain revealed after his tragic death over Christmas that itsin a quad accident. Denbybike Village, West The company that Bromwichconfirmed and Coventry Lynn as astop result of a shopsdied would trading, quad bike accident at his– leaving it with 11 outlets home onwhich the evening of many of are within Sunday 2nd May. garden centres.

By Michael Lane

The UK’s long-awaited first site for Italian food market operator Eataly is now open and fully operational in central London. The 42,000 sq ft premises, in the Broadgate area of the City of London, features a market and retail area housing more than 5,000 different Italian and local food products, including a host of fresh lines served up at butchery, fishmonger and deli counters. Staffed by a team of 300 people, the site also houses a wine cellar with over 2,000 wines, a bakery and gelato counter dubbed Via del Dolce (‘the Sweet Spot’), and a production unit making fresh mozzarella and other cheeses in view of customers. For the first time in Eataly’s history, it will also be offering bulk refills

Eataly’s first UK site has opened in the Broadgate are of the City of London

from a dedicated section. While the retail area and some takeaway food sections – including fresh pasta and pizza bars – opened to the public on 29th April, a further portion of the site was officially opened on 20th May. Cucina del Mercato and Pasta e Pizza, as well

as the in-store bars, and seating areas around the other eateries, are now serving customers, with a fine dining destination called Terra scheduled for unveiling in September. Eataly CEO Nicola Farinetti said: “We are delighted to finally open our Eataly London doors

DOWN ON THE FARM Source trade show set to go ahead One of the first in-person trade shows since COVID began over a year ago is set to take place this month. The Source will open its doors to the retail and hospitality world on Wednesday 8th June at Westpoint, Exeter, showcasing the South West’s food & drink sector. The 2020 exhibition was one of the last shows to go ahead in the UK, being hosted shortly before the first national lockdown began in March 2020. Originally tabled for 10th and 11th February 2021, the show was postponed due to the ongoing pandemic, and will now run until Thursday 9th June.

Northern Irish preserve maker Erin Grove is setting up a farm shop on its premises in Co Fermanagh, with a view to opening in June. The shop will showcase the producer’s own lines, as well as a complementary range of other Irish artisan products, locally produced meat and cheeses, and locally grown vegetables. Nene Park Trust, Norfolk has opened a farm shop stocking a range of locally grown and sourced produce from the park’s very own farm partners as well as suppliers from across the region. Lakeside Farm Shop is ideally located at Lakeside in Ferry Meadows and is open daily from 10am to

Lakeside Farm Shop

5pm. Most of the produce sold in the farm shop is sourced from within a 20-mile radius of Nene Park. In the future, the farm shop will stock meat produced on Nene Park Trust land through their share farming project. All the profits made in the farm shop will be reinvested back into Nene Park. lakesidefarmshop

to bring our love of Italian gastronomy to the UK at a time when consumers and hospitality professionals appreciate and need it the most.” Founded in 2007, Eataly has stores across 15 countries around the world.

The Chancellorhas Rishi Tracklements hired Sunak has announced Ben Hallam for the role that the UK is set to of commercial manager, increase the contactless which includes identifying card spend opportunilimit to £100, new market more than double the ties. Hallam joins the current maximum of £45. Wiltshire-based condiThe cap will come mentnew specialist after 11 into on 15th yearsuse at dairy firmOctober Yeo 2021. Valley.Additionally, users will be able to spend £300 in total before a PIN is requested, increased Health food retailer Planfrom £130. has moved et Organic into the hot food delivery market and teamed up Devon-based with high-end printers service Newton Print will has courier Supper, which become one just items thirty a selection of of to-go in the UK to become and sushi from two CenCertified Carbon tral London stores. Balanced Printers. The business achieved this by offsetting its annual emissions with the World Land Trust.

The latest from farm shops across the country Eastington Farm Shop is now selling milk from its dairy herd. The milk is unhomogenised, batch pasteurised, whole milk and is sold in reusable glass bottles. The herd is milked on the farm, the milk is pasteurised on the farm and is sold at the shop. The farm is moving towards a more sustainable method of farming known as regenerative agriculture. One aspect of this is working and creating habitats for nature to thrive within the farm. eastingtonfarmshop.

Norfolk’s Hirst Farm Shop farm shop, which almost closed before last year’s coronavirus lockdown, has just gone through impressive expansion works. The Hirst family, which owns the farm near Great Yarmouth, has converted a redundant building, previously used as a kitchen and shower block for seasonal workers, into a spacious farm shop and café. They have given space to a long-established fishmonger in the area, Dabs n Crabs. hirstsfarmshop

In association with

Fabulous Farm Shops

Vol.22 Issue 5 | June 2021


SHOP TALK IF I’D KNOWN THEN WHAT I KNOW NOW... JONNY DRYDEN, co-owner, Blacks Corner, East Boldon, Tyne & Wear

Buying the freehold for a derelict Edwardian building was something of an insurance policy for me and Chris Lowden, my business partner and longtime friend. If our foray into food went wrong, we could always sell the building. Fortunately, that hasn’t happened so far. The community embraced our concept of a neighbourhood restaurant with a deli counter, as well as our emphasis on local, home-grown, British produce. By the end of our second year of trading, Blacks Corner was bursting at the seams. Our team had swelled to 27 and with 32 covers indoors and 25 outdoors, we couldn’t accommodate any more seating. We needed more space. We thought a second premises would be an opportunity to off-site some of our kitchen and baking prep and to move our huge cheese and charcuterie stores to a satellite location. The small deli counter in the restaurant had started to detract from the restaurant experience – staff were having to break off and serve deli counter customers. Our thinking was that we could redirect this demand to a new unit just down the road, so we opened the Deli Bakehouse in November 2019. There was space for a much larger counter and deli sales would cover the overheads while the back-ofhouse space could be used for prep and storage. The main goal was to ensure we weren’t just splitting sales across two sites. People come to our restaurant for the table theatre so we were careful not to duplicate that. Instead, we have developed a different offer for the deli. For example, we’ve started selling cheeses paired with on-tap wines; customers buy a branded refillable wine bottle and fill it themselves from a keg. The challenges of running two sites mainly stem from the extraordinary amount of work it takes to make sure 27 people have their rotas and are happy with their hours and holidays. At the same time, there are synergies from operating two sites; centralising ordering systems for example. This is one of the reasons the satellite kitchen model is interesting. The margins are obviously lower in the deli, which couldn’t stand up by itself, but the restaurant and deli support one another. When we launched in 2017 we set out to create a brand that was part of the community. This ethos hasn’t changed, and if anything, the pandemic cemented our role within the area. We were involved in a Community Outreach Fund which raised £10,000 and we helped to ‘rehome’ half a tonne of produce that would have gone to waste – via food parcels for the vulnerable. Whatever the future holds, our role within the community will be at the core of what we do. Interview: Lynda Searby Photography: Donna-Lisa Healy


June 2021 | Vol.22 Issue 5

CONFESSIONS OF A DELI OWNER ANONYMOUS TALES FROM BEHIND THE COUNTER SO, I’VE PUT away the planning, filed the HR documents, set down the accounts, and, in this case, banished the COVID, to get out on the shop floor. Liking customers, liking being around customers, liking helping customers, liking being liked by customers – that’s what’s going to keep me going. Yes, I am blissfully optimistic and even finding joy in the unlikeliest of places. When I had to pick something up from Tesco Metro this morning, I witnessed the lad on the till (young, no hard consonants, lots of tattoos) give a masterclass in customer management. He served the lady in front of me, asked where her little girl was, made a couple of comments on her shopping and asked if she’d like to take advantage of a promotion. It was all very natural. He liked his job, he couldn’t have been that good if he didn’t. Whether it was because he liked retail or his community, or just people in general, he was good. I used the self-checkout and had FOMO – I wanted to be in that queue to be served by him. There was nothing that wasn’t modern about him, except that bit about him caring. That is ancient. It’s in our culture to mix shopping and

MODEL RETAILING Happy Monday, Mr Deli. What’s looking good on the counter this week?

I am this close to painting my shop yellow and dressing up as a daffodil. socialising, and the indie sector is the best at it. I, for one, am going to really enjoy that buzz as people return to normal life. Much like hairdressers, those who are behind a counter are good at getting to know people’s lives. You find out their holiday destinations, who’s coming for supper, which children are home for the weekend, which girlfriend is vegan. There is so much we now realise were taking for granted – schools, pubs, even the importance of going into the office. And you can add person-

to-person retail to that list, too. I am this close to painting my shop yellow and dressing up as a daffodil. An emotional (late) spring is coming and by heck do we need it. Storm clouds of stress have hovered over our homes and communities for more than a year. People are ‘ok’ but they aren’t really. In the last week, I’ve spoken to two friends threatening to give it all up and tell their bosses where to stick the 60-hour weeks of Zoom meetings. But what these workaholics really need is a trip to their local deli. Because we – the UK’s independent shopkeepers – are part of the solution. We are the nation’s therapy. Not the short-term-hit retail therapy. I mean actual, informal, ‘let’s-talkabout-it’ therapy. In the summer ahead, we – along with the hairdressers, the publicans and the restaurateurs – will be talking down a traumatised nation. Every jar of horseradish, every 150g of cheese, every gift box of chocolates. I am going to sell it with a smile, a question and some chat. You should do that too – or Tesco might end up doing it for you.


Well, we’ve got two lovely blues, a new washed rind and a soft sheep’s cheese. Or, at least, we will when the delivery comes on Wednesday.


But I want to want to buy some cheese… today

Tesco never runs out of cheese. Let’s see what they’ve got.

FFD says: Nothing will frustrate a customer more than a lack of availability, or choice. Restocking and timing orders correctly may be tricky for you but customers don’t care. All they see is you failing to meet their needs. Rather than telling them what they can’t have, make a virtue of what you’ve got in. Try not to leave too many empty spaces on the shelves and in the chiller and think about staggering deliveries across the week so there’s always something new in. With kind permission of Geobra Brandstätter Stiftung & Co. KG, Germany. PLAYMOBIL is a registered trademark of Geobra Brandstätter Stiftung & Co. KG, for which also the displayed PLAYMOBIL toy figures are protected.

Vol.22 Issue 5 | June 2021





Technical and regulatory advice from the Guild’s deli helpline Q: Is it true that I cannot describe the health benefits of drinking yoghurts and kefir that we sell in our shop?

A: This is potentially something of a minefield for a small business. Proceed with caution! Article 7 of Regulation (EU) 1169/2011 requires that “Food information shall not be misleading” and “subject to derogations provided for by Union law applicable to natural mineral waters and foods for particular nutritional uses, food information shall not attribute to any food the property of preventing, treating or curing a human disease, nor refer to such properties.” Specific rules around health claims made on foods are laid out in Regulation (EC) 1924/2006. “The use of nutrition and health claims shall not: (a) be false, ambiguous or misleading; (b) give rise to doubt about the safety and/or the nutritional adequacy of other foods; (c) encourage or condone excess consumption of a food;(d) state, suggest or imply that a balanced and varied diet cannot provide appropriate quantities of nutrients in general.”

Retailer’s view THYME & TIDES’ IAIN HEMMING ON IMPROVING HIS STAFF’S MENTAL HEALTH AND WELLBEING In the last two years, we’ve incredibly sadly lost two young and vulnerable people on our team who, shortly after leaving us, committed suicide. So we decided to look at what we can do for young people while they are in our care. We’ve come up with five pillars to the way we approach looking after our team while they’re at Thyme & Tides. Two of us in the team – of around 12-15 people – have become mental health first-aiders. We are now armed and able to recognise changes within our team and have been trained on how to broach subjects and signpost to relevant services. Secondly, after six months’ employment, we are now offering full, top-level Bupa health cover (physical and mental) to all staff. This is funded 50% by us and 50% by the individual, but it works out at about £20-a-month per staff member. We’ve increased the length of breaks and the frequency, and we’ve also invested in a rest area so it’s a nice place to be – it’s no longer full of stock, there’s better lighting and air conditioning. 12

June 2021 | Vol.22 Issue 5


There are strict rules on the authorisation of health claims 1

There are strict rules on the authorisation of health claims, with further information available at the page: Nutrition and health claims: guidance to compliance with Regulation (EC) 1924/2006”. The term “probiotic” for example, is not permitted without an authorised health claim. Phrases like “good for you” may only be used with an appropriate reference to a health claim on the authorised list. References on a menu to a particular dish being “healthy”, or any similar claim, must comply with the conditions in the annex to (EC) 1924. For example, “low fat” foods must contain “no more than 3g of fat per 100g for solids or 1.5g of fat per 100 ml for liquids (1.8 g of fat per 100 ml for semi-skimmed milk).” The full list can be found at uk/eur/2006/1924/annex Dairy and food safety specialist Paul Thomas runs the Guild’s e-helpline for retailers with technical or regulatory queries. Send your questions to

Gut health is also important to wellbeing, so we’re offering free salads, yoghurts, muesli, and the usual refreshments for staff breaks. And finally, from July we’re running a sixmonth net-profit bonus scheme for all members of staff. We want the staff to be invested in the business, and to invest in them.

Everyone needs to look at how they approach the wellbeing of staff. We sat down with our team and told them that Thyme & Tides is all about them – they make the business – so we want them to be tiptop going forward. It’s about having a holistic approach to being a responsible employer and retailer. I’m not looking for any plaudits here. I’m sharing this because everyone needs to look at how they approach the wellbeing of staff. Whether you’re an independent that’s had a good or a bad pandemic, we’re all still struggling to recruit and retain people. Making a change would be good for the health of the whole industry.



1 Syrian cuisine Despite the ramifications of COVID lockdowns on the hospitality industry, several Syrian food operations have gained a following. Chef and restaurateur Imad Alarnab fled Damascus due to the civil war and has recently opened Imad’s Syrian Kitchen on London’s Carnaby Street where you’ll find plates of kanafeh and sheikh al-mahshi, a Syrian dish of stuffed courgettes. At the other end of the spectrum, food market vendor Toum & Tahini, which plies its trade in Fulham, has garnered the attention of the Instagram cognoscenti. You’ll find plenty of photos of their Syrian staple of fatteh – kohbez flatbread dowsed in garlic, yoghurt and tahini and loaded with crispy chickpeas. 2 5L beer kegs Al fresco entertaining has been given a new lease of life thanks to pandemic safety measures. While the five-litre beer keg has been around for some time, savvy retailers have realised the new-found potential in the larger format for picnics and outside gatherings. Craft giants like Brewdog are making a push for the mini keg, as are the likes of Small Beer, Wild Beer Co, and Siren. Ticking the boxes for recycling and efficiency in packaging materials, the keg looks set for a solid summer. 3 Keto diet The ketogenic diet has kicked into a higher gear recently with adopters of the low-carb, high-fat diet reaching for a whole host of products. The concept hinges on training your body into burning fat as fuel – a state known as ketosis. In response to the diet’s uptick, The Brave Ape Co has developed a line of oat-free instant porridges in flavours that include Blueberry & Cinnamon, Cacao, and Peanut Butter. Keto Hana is also producing nut-and-seed-based keto granola, while 8 Foods is putting out everything from kale chips to bagels and bread – all with the keto moniker. As well as looking for meals and snacks to eat on the go, keto advocates will also be shopping for cuts of meat and charcuterie that are high in fat, so products like lardo and dripping can be pitched to them.

NOW WE CAN SPOON AGAIN, PICK A PARTNER OF QUALITY. Cosy up to whatever you fancy from our Chutney, Pickled Vegetables, Fruits for Cheese and Mediterranean ranges.

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June 2021 | Vol.22 Issue 5


Castile and León

Eat the seasons Castile and León’s artisan producers work throughout the year to turn fabulous natural produce into world class gourmet foods. Welcome to a part of Spain where good food never stops

JUNE IS A BUSY TIME in the food calendar of Castile and León. As the temperature rises in the mountains and plains of this beautiful part of north west Spain, producers make the most of the sunshine and the pastures and vineyards become a hive of activity. This is literally the case for Samuel and Oscar Gato, two beekeeping brothers who spend much of June moving their hives from the Arribes del Duero Natural Park to be closer to their home town of Tiedra – a village west of Valladolid, which is surrounded by fragrant fields of lavender grown for the essential oils industry. The landscape is carpeted with the purple herb during the summer, creating a perfume that is irresistible to the bees. The lavender honey produced from the plants’ nectar is equally hard to resist with a light amber hue and distinct floral aroma, plus a sweet, fruity flavour and long lingering finish. “When the lavender is in flower and


June 2021 | Vol.22 Issue 5

the fields are stained purple in the summer months, there are no other flowers in the field, so our bees produce a pure, mono-floral lavender honey,” says Oscar Gato. Samuel and Oscar, who previously worked in engineering, were drawn to the beekeeping life thanks to their father. He used to keep a small number of hives in Tiedra to produce honey for friends and family. Still in their twenties, the brothers have since turned their father’s hobby into a business, called Apicola de Tiedra, making a range of honeys under the Setentaynueve brand – so called because 79 is the atomic number for gold. They produce around 40 tonnes of honey a year, moving their 700 hives around Castile and León on pick-up trucks and trailers in search of the best blooms. In the autumn, the hives will be taken back to Arribes del Duero, where the bees will feast on the sap of holm oaks and create dark, malty Forest Honey. “Tasting our honeys is savouring the

richness of the land, diverse landscapes and unique environments,” says Gato. “We are transhumant beekeepers - we move our hives looking for different blooms. Once the hives are located, we intervene as little as possible, letting the bees work freely, and extract the honey using totally artisanal systems. Our honey is raw and unpasteurised, so that each one maintains the flavours and aromas of the nectar from which it comes.” Two hours north west of Tiedra, in the wine-growing region of Bierzo, the staff at Prada a Tope in the small village of Canedo are also busy – but not with honey. At this time of year, the company is just finishing production of its preserved figs – top quality green Zoupeiros figs marinated in a bittersweet mixture of sugar, vinegar, mustard and lemon. They will then turn their attentions later this month to preserving locally picked cherries in grape spirit, sugar, cinnamon, mint, anise and coffee.

The company’s charismatic and entrepreneurial owner José Luis Prada Méndez, known as ‘Prada’, first started making preserves in 1972 following a successful career in retail, selling everything from hippy clothes to fishing rods. He began with fire-roasted peppers (Pimientos Asados), before adding numerous other products and then reviving an abandoned vineyard and bodega called Palacio de Canedo, where he makes wine and preserves today. “Most of the recipes come from popular lore, from what our grandmothers did to be able to preserve those fruits and vegetables that the field gave and to be able to consume them all year round,” says Prada’s wife Flor Bonet, who runs the business with him. “We buy all the raw material from small farmers in the area, who plant and collect for us, always ensuring a purchase price above the market price. The products are made in our workshop, by hand, without artificial preservatives, colourants or thickeners; like our grandmothers did.” The company makes around 70,000 jars per year, but this number really depends on what the harvest brings – especially when it comes to the protected Bierzo peppers that are still a big part of production. These red peppers are charred over giant wood fires throughout September, before the blistered skin is peeled by hand and they are filled into jars. While food production slows in the autumn at Prada a Tope, it ramps up at Embutidos

Entrepeñas in the village of Geras de Gordón in the north west of León. Located in a valley, 1,200m above sea level, the area enjoys a microclimate characterised by long, dry winters and frequent frosts, providing the perfect conditions for maturing cured meats. “The valley, in addition to being beautiful and overflowing with nature, is in an unbeatable situation when it comes to natural curing of meat,” says Natalia Ordoñez Gutierrez, quality control manager. “Our products are only produced in the cold season, from October or November to April or May, depending on the temperatures and rains of the year. Rather than using chemical adjuncts, which are normally used in the meat industry, we depend on low temperatures and frosts to prevent unwanted microorganisms from developing. The fermentation takes place slowly, but naturally.”


Industrias del Bierzo, Carracedelo The company has been producing preserved vegetables for more than 40 years, making items including tomato sauces, roasted peppers and soups.

Cárnicas Entresierras, Santibáñez de Béjar This Salamanca-based company makes a wide range of cured meats under the Pefrán brand, including Ibérico hams and salchichón.

Manuel Guillen, Guijuelo Located in Salamanca, this family company makes a wide range of Ibérico charcuterie.

Miel de León, Valdevimbre A family company with more than 20 years of experience dedicated to the production of organic honeys, including chestnut, forest, mountain honey and heather honey. De Lo Nuestro Artesano, Carracedelo A family business dedicated to the production and sale of artisan preserves, using select ingredients from the Bierzo region. Espora Gourmet, Soria Flavoured products using fresh black truffles, including honey, balsamic vinegar, olive oil and condiments. Florencio Sanchez e Hijos, Campillo de Salvatierra Premium Ibérico pork products under the Fisan brand, including 100% Bellota jamons, chorizos and lomos, plus cuts such as pluma and secreto. Ibervilla Fine Foods, Valladolid The Cepeda family has been rearing Iberian pigs for over 30 years and produces jamón Ibérico, chorizo and other charcuterie under the San Jamón brand.

Mykés Gourmet, Soria Mykés Gourmet makes over 40 products using truffles, including extra virgin olive oils, vinegars, sauces, salt, honey, chocolate and cheeses. Productos Ibéricos Caldéron y Ramos, Guijuelo A family business with three production facilities specialised in Iberian pork production under the Estrella de Castilla brand.

The family company, which was set up by Gutierrez’s grandmother, makes a wide range of charcuterie, but is best known for its Chorizo de Geras and Cecina de León, a PGIprotected, air-dried beef. The chorizo, which won a 3-star award at Great Taste 2020, is made with pork sourced from local farms. This is mixed with salt, garlic and Pimentón de La Vera paprika, before being cured and lightly oak-smoked. Only the best cuts are used, says Gutierrez. “Unlike the Iberian chorizo, which is born as a by-product to take advantage of the remains of hams and shoulders, in our house chorizo is our king. The best parts such as loin, bacon, ham and shoulder are destined for its preparation. This is clearly recognisable in the texture and flavour of the final product.” The quality of beef used to make the Cecina de León (a Great Taste 2-star winner) is also a big focus for the company, which works closely with farms in the Geras valley. Specific cuts from the hind legs of mature cattle are air-dried for anywhere from 7 to 22 months, and lightly oak-smoked, to create a remarkable air-dried beef that can hold its own against Spain’s finest hams. Tender and gently smoky, it has a deep, lingering sweet and savoury flavour. “I like to enjoy it with a good piece of bread and a rosé wine from León that does not diminish its intensity,” says Gutierrez. From lavender honey in the summer to airdried beef made in the depths of winter, there’s a food for all seasons in Castile and León. For more information, contact:

Urbano Gonzalez Escapa, San Andrés del Rabanedo URZAPA is a group of organic beekeepers that was started in 1995. Products include honey, pollen, royal jelly, mead, beer and vinegar. Vitalus Distribucion Alimentaria. Guijuelo Trading under the La Abadía Ibéricos brand, the company makes Ibérico cured meats using pork from its own farms. Yemas de Santa Teresa, Ávila Started in 1860 in the medieval town of Ávila, the company makes a unique sweet treat made from egg yolks called Yemas de Santa Teresa, as well as quince paste, gazpacho and hummus.

Vol.22 Issue 5 | June 2021


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June 2021 | Vol.22 Issue 5


news & views from the cheese counter

Scientific breakthrough creates new strains of blue cheese mould By Patrick McGuigan

Blue cheese producers will soon be able to create new flavours and textures in their products after a breakthrough discovery that enables scientists to naturally breed new strains of blue mould. Penicillium roqueforti, the blue cheese mould, was thought to reproduce asexually, but Paul Dyer, professor of fungal biology at the University of Nottingham, has discovered it is possible to naturally breed the mould to create completely new varieties with unique cheesemaking properties. The new process has been commercialised by Myconeos,

after extensive trials with artisan cheesemakers Moyden’s Hand Made Cheese in Shropshire and Highland Fine Cheeses in Ross-shire. A range of new blue moulds will be launched under the Mycoforti brand this month. “We have new strains that give very different flavour, aroma, texture and colour properties,” said Dr Jacek Obuchowicz, CEO of Myconeos. “We have developed blue moulds that can break down fat 20 times faster than existing moulds, or work much more slowly. Beyond that, we are looking at strains for goats’ or sheep’s milk blues. We want to be able to provide

Cheesemakers will be able to use the newly discovered blue moulds to alter flavour and texture

a toolbox that mould-ripened cheesemakers can use to create new products and sensations.” The initial range includes four strains – Classic, Mild, Intense and Artisan – which each provide different flavour and texture characteristics in cheese. A bespoke mould has also been developed for Moyden’s by isolating a wild strain of blue mould from a hay bale at a Shropshire farm. Cheesemaker Martin Moyden plans to use it to make a new version of his flagship cheese called Wild Wrekin Blue. “In blind tastings we found it consistently gave the cheese a real sweetness and brighter, more vibrant blue veins,” said Moyden. “I’ve always loved the connection between cheese and the place it is made, and this will really strengthen that idea of terroir. We will likely see a big increase in new blue cheeses with these moulds. It could have a big impact for both micro-producers and large manufacturers.” Obuchowicz said he was in talks with cheesemakers across the UK and hoped to also work with Continental producers. He added there was potential to look at breeding other cheese mould varieties beyond Penicillium roqueforti in the future.


Lidl is working in partnership with Wyke Farms to develop a carbon-neutral cheddar. Changes to the way feed, land, manure, animals and energy are managed will help save 22.5 million kilos of carbon dioxide per year as part of the project, which will be verified by The Carbon Trust.

Lady Grey This new raw goats’ milk cheese, from St James Cheese in Cumbria, is made in 1.6kg rounds, which are coated in ash. The cheese has a semi-soft texture and grassy flavour when young, becoming sweeter and more mushroomy as it matures and the paste breaks down beneath the rind.

Cider The cheesemongers at The Fine Cheese Co, which helped develop Lady Grey, have had success pairing the cheese with ciders from Somerset producer Wilding Cider. Ditcheat Hill cider has a fresh and fruity flavour, which pairs well with the bright acidity of younger cheeses. More mature cheeses work well with Kingston Black, which has notes of apple pie and poached plums. Beetroot Beetroot and goats’ cheese is hardly a new combination – there’s an earthiness to both that makes for a pleasing match. But Tracklements’ Beetroot & Horseradish Relish adds another layer to the pairing with a gentle peppery heat from the horseradish that picks up on spicy notes found near the rind of Lady Grey.

Cardiff cheese shop Madame Fromage has headed north to the Monmouthshire town of Abergavenny to open a second outlet. The new Deli & Café on Nevill Street stocks 150 different cheeses, as well as a range of accessories and accompaniments. Somerset cheesemaker Feltham’s Farm has won the Virtual Cheese Awards for the second year running after its La Fresca Margarita queso fresco was named Best British Cheese. The company won last year with the washed rind cheese Renegade Monk.


Worcester-based Croome Cheese has saved the Harlech, Tintern and Y-Fenni flavoured cheddar brands after the Abergavenny Fine Food Co stopped production of the trio last year. The three cheeses are still made with Welsh cheddar, but are now blended in Worcestershire, and come in 1.2kg and new 150g waxed rounds.

Rosemary Rosemary is another easy match for goats’ cheese. Rosemary crackers, rosemary honey and even a gin & tonic garnished with lemon and a sprig of rosemary all work well with younger Lady Grey cheeses. The herb dovetails with similar floral and herbaceous notes in the cheese. Vol.22 Issue 5 | June 2021



news & views from the cheese counter

Tunworth maker unveils rebrand and looks to boost production

BEHIND THE COUNTER TIPS OF THE TRADE Becky Aldred, Aldred’s Fine Cheese, Scarborough

By Patrick McGuigan

More than 15 years after Tunworth first launched, the iconic British cheese has been rebranded with a more modern look, ahead of plans to significantly expand production. Producer Hampshire Cheese Co launched Tunworth in 2005 and has since added the spruce-wrapped Winslade to the range. Both have been rebranded, with the words ‘soft cheese’ removed and a simpler design. “The old branding was a bit heavy and old fashioned,” said owner Stacey Hedges. “It served us well but needed freshening up. It now has a modern, simple look, which still stands out. Tunworth has enough of a name that we don’t need to tell people it is ‘soft cheese’ or ‘Camembert-style’.” A leaf design was included to reflect the close relationship the company has with Rotherfield Park Estate Farm in Hampshire, which has seen the cheesemaker and dairy farm

CHEESE IN PROFILE with Old Winchester What’s the story? Lyburn Farm is on the edge of the New Forest and for the past 50 years has been farmed by Mike Smales and his family. Their 200-strong


June 2021 | Vol.22 Issue 5

The words ‘soft cheese’ have been removed from Tunworth’s new-look box

work to improve sustainability and milk quality. The farm has introduced Montbeliarde and Swedish Red breeds to the herd to improve protein and fat content in the milk and has changed the cows’ feed, cutting soya from their diet and planting herbal leys in the pasture. “We’ve been thinking more about how dairying affects the planet and trying to mitigate that,” said Hedges. “We’ve seen a big change in milk quality,

herd of Holstein Frisian cows produces 1.5 million litres of milk per year, of which 50% is used to make cheese on the farm. During the summer, the cows graze outdoors in the fields and in September they move inside and feed on maize and grass silage. When Smales started making cheese, he made a conscious decision not to make cheddar and experimented over several years with gouda-making techniques. The eventual result was the ever-popular Winchester. Old Winchester, also known as Old Smales, is

meaning better flavour and body in the cheeses.” The company is also planning a major expansion this year to increase capacity from 1.5 tonnes a week to three tonnes. “We’ve had a surprisingly good year with strong sales through independent and online retailers,” said Hedges. “We’re really confident we can grow whatever happens now.” hampshirecheesecompany.

Owner Becky Aldred has come up with a novel way to get reluctant customers over the threshold – put the cheese on a takeaway pizza or burger. The basement of her Scarborough shop was converted into a kitchen during the coronavirus crisis for making pizzas, burgers and poutine. It was a way to keep cheeses on the counter turning over and to appeal to a different demographic, she says. “It might be Ribblesdale goats’ cheese burger and pizza with Forme d’Ambert one week, but then different cheeses the next. We’ve found we’re getting through to people who wouldn’t normally come into the shop, but when they taste the cheese in a dish they come back to buy it. People also come to the shop to collect their takeaway and see what we sell, and then come back.” A good example is when six builders visited after one had bought a burger with Dolcelatte. “He loved the cheese so they all wanted to see what we did. They bought £200 worth of cheese between them.”

and transformed into cheese. The curds are washed during production. They are then pressed into large moulds before being brined. The rind is sealed with a very thin plastic coating and is matured for 1618 months. The 4.5kg wheels of cheese are turned regularly to ensure even moisture distribution.

the aged version and is a dryer, harder cheese often referred to as a British Parmesan. How is it made? Milk for cheesemaking is transported each morning across the yard in the farm tanker, to the dairy, where it is pasteurised

Appearance & texture: The cheese has sweet, nutty, slightly smoky flavours and a hard, smooth texture with crystalline crunch. It is golden yellow in colour.

Variations: None Cheesemonger tip: Old Winchester is made with vegetarian rennet so do propose it as a British alternative to Parmesan, even HRH Prince Charles recommended using it in his favourite recipe, which was shared during the recent British Cheese Weekender event, hosted by the Academy of Cheese. Chef’s recommendation: The cheese is a great alternative to cheddar on a Ploughman’s lunch or shaved over hot pasta dishes. Pair it with a hoppy pale ale.

While the majority of traditional classroom courses are still suspended due to COVID-19, delegates can sign up to Academy of Cheese Level 1 & 2 courses online as self-study eLearning, or interactive virtual classes.


June 2021 | Vol.22 Issue 5

Axicon were, we have to say, amazing. They delivered our labels on time and perfectly printed and took our last minute phone calls in their stride. They understood the importance of the perfect label and gave us the product that (hopefully!) stands out from the crowd!

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My name is Sally Barnes, the last wild Atlantic salmon smoker in Ireland who does not work with farmed fish. After 40 years living with this magnificent creature, it is time I shared my knowledge with those who want to learn the traditional ways of preserving fish so it is not lost. I have structured a series of courses to reveal these methods at the smokery, which are available for booking now to anyone who, like me, is interested in the intrinsic importance of the old ways. Looking forward to meeting you, Sally B



June 2021 | Vol.22 Issue 5

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news and views from the cheese counter

David Hartley had a real passion to see a farmhouse producer set up in Wensleydale

With a little help... It was the Wensleydale Creamery that coaxed The Home Farmer into making a raw milk version of a classic Yorkshire cheese By Patrick McGuigan

DAIRY FARMER BEN SPENCE was set for life as a yoghurt-maker when a courtesy call to his main customer ended up being one of those ‘sliding doors’ moments. Based in Wensleydale, the farm has long supplied Wensleydale Creamery with milk for its famous cheese, and Spence felt it only polite to check whether they were happy for some of it to go into yoghurt. “I rang up the MD David Hartley to see what he thought,” says Spence, who set up The Home Farmer at his family farm in Aysgarth with his wife Sam and brother Adam in 2016. “But then he started asking me whether I’d ever thought about making cheese. With the creamery so close by and already taking our milk, it had never occurred to me. But David really encouraged us to start making Wensleydale and it sent our life on an alternative tangent.” With help from Hartley and the Creamery’s head cheesemaker Richard Clarke, the Spences built a new cheese-processing unit and developed a raw-milk, clothbound Wensleydale called Old Roan, which launched in 2019. It might seem odd that the Wensleydale Creamery would help a rival on its doorstep, but the difference in size between the two companies is vast. The Creamery produces 4,000 tonnes of cheese a year, sourcing milk from 40 local farms, while the Home Farmer only has 100 Friesian cows. “David just had a real passion to see a farmhouse producer set up in Wensleydale,” says Spence. Trading has been tricky for the start-

up for obvious reasons, but it has secured listings with the Courtyard Dairy, Booths and The Fine Cheese Co, helped by its title as the only raw milk Wensleydale actually made in Wensleydale. Tragically, David Hartley passed away after a long battle with cancer in December, so was not able to witness the full extent of The Home Farmer’s progress. “He sent me a text saying how proud he was of what we’d achieved and wishing us all the best,” says Spence. “It’s really sad what happened.” The company currently makes 300kg of cheese a week. It has the capacity to manufacture more than triple that, but Spence is cautious about increasing production too soon after he was left with “mountains” of cheese during the first two lockdowns. Thankfully, the company managed to clear the backlog with the help of The Courtyard Dairy and through its mobile shop in a converted horse trailer, complete with milk and cheese vending machines. “I’m nervous about making too much again,” says Spence. “We’ve not had a normal year of trading, so we’re putting our finger in the air to work out how much cheese to lay down.” The good news is that Old Roan only requires a few months of maturation, so the maturing room can be filled relatively quickly. It also means that it doesn’t take long to feel the benefit of recipe changes, as Spence looks to improve the cheese. “We were getting some bitterness at the beginning, but we’ve tweaked things and I’m much happier with how it’s tasting,” he says. The cheese, like the business, is finding its feet after a difficult year, and Spence is optimistic for the future. “David always used to say that Yorkshire as a brand for food is really strong and Wensleydale is part of that. If we get it right, there’s no reason why the cheese can’t be sold across the country.”



Old Roan 1

Old Roan is made with raw milk and animal rennet in 5kg rounds, which are wrapped in cloth. The cheese is aged for 2-4 months. The flavour and texture is very different to bright, white, crumbly Wensleydale. Old Roan is softer and closer with a mellow buttery flavour and pleasing savoury undertone, plus a burst of fresh acidity.

2 Frozen DVI starter cultures are used for consistency, but this precludes the cheese from carrying the Yorkshire Wensleydale PGI, which specifies the use of bulk starters. Spence plans to trial bulk starters further down the line.


The cheese is based on prewar styles of Wensleydale, which were made with slow acidification of the curd for a less crumbly cheese. Spence has tweaked how he makes the cheese recently, including altering the maturation room temperature, to improve consistency and flavour with help from Andy Swinscoe at the Courtyard Dairy.

Vol.22 Issue 5 | June 2021


World Cheese Awards will take place in Oviedo, Spain as part of the Asturias Paraíso Natural International Cheese Festival from the 3-6 November 2021 KEY DATES 2021: Open for entry: 23 August Closed for entry: 23 September Judging: 3 November




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Vol.22 Issue 5 | June 2021


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June 2021 | Vol.22 Issue 5

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seafood & smoked fish

Just dive in As picnicking season ramps up, it’s time to refresh your deli counter. We kick off this product round-up with a look at seafood, followed by all the latest launches you’ll find in the serveover. Compiled by Lynda Searby


Working with International Fish Canners, The Orange Buffalo has combined two of its flagship buffalo wing sauces with wild Scottish mackerel fillets to give tinned fish a modern makeover. This represents the latest foray for the London-based restaurant brand, which already has an at-home bottled sauce range. The two tinned fish varieties – K-Town and Woof Woof – have an RRP of £3. theorangebuffalo.

The BigFish range has been extended with two hotsmoked lines. Hot Smoked Salmon is made with Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status fish from Scotland, certified to the GGN standard for sustainable aquaculture. Hot Smoked Loch Trout uses a strain of rainbow trout that is from the same family as Atlantic salmon and rich in Omega-3. RRP £5.99 for 250g.

Cornwall-based Seafood & Eat It has treated its collection of ready-to-eat British crab products to bold new pack designs. The range, which takes in Dressed Crab, White Crab, Brown Crab, Fifty Fifty Crab and Potted Crab with Brown Shrimp, features crab that is pot-caught in the traditional way and then hand-picked. RRPs start at £2.99.

West Country wholesale seafood supplier Meridian Sea is adding Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified anchovy fillets from the Bay of Biscay Fishery to its portfolio. As well as having a unique flavour, Bay of Biscay fish tend to be larger than their Mediterranean cousins. Initially, Meridian will be offering chilled marinated anchovy fillets in 100g and 150g tray packs.

Sustainable preserved fish brand Fish4Ever has launched its poleand-line tuna in glass packaging. The tuna are fished one by one by local boats in the Azores, then packed locally in volcanic spring water (RRP £2.95 for 150g) or organic olive oil (RRP £3.75 for 150g).

Ireland’s Shines Seafood has added mackerel fillets in sunflower oil, brine and tomato sauce to its line-up (RRP €2.50 for 125g). The company is currently on the lookout for a UK distributor for its range, which includes wild Irish albacore tuna, yellowfin tuna and wild Irish ventresca.

an alluring mix of mild smoky, sweet flavours Having built up a following for its smoked trout pâté, Butler Country Estates is now selling fillets and whole sides of Hampshire trout. The fillets are pin boned and brine cured before being hot smoked using an aromatic mix of apple, oak and hickory. Butler’s whole fish are gilled and gutted, and packed immediately after the smoking process. Retail pricing is £30/kg for whole fish and £40/kg for fillets. butler-country-estates.

After picking up a 3-star in the 2020 Great Taste awards, Orkney producer Humes has treated its Oak Smoked Mackerel to new livery. The mackerel, which recently featured on BBC1’s Saturday Kitchen, is available ready to eat in two-fillet packs. Wholesale price £3.50.

Vol.22 Issue 5 | June 2021


seafood & smoked fish

for the deli counter Chapman’s Seafoods is launching a dedicated BBQ range of seafood products for summer 2021. Backed by POS materials and A6 recipe cards available to download or order from the company’s stockist support site (chapmans-stockists., the range includes lines such as sea bass fillets and raw jumbo king prawns. Chapmans is also inviting retailers to be featured stockists in its social media campaign.

Zeet is on a mission to drive awareness of Tunisia as an olive producer, through its ever-increasing collection of olive-based products. Its latest introduction is organic Caspe olives that have been cracked for easy use. Harvested while still unripe and left to macerate in aromatic herbs, the Caspe olive has a soft bitter taste. RRP £3.65 for 370g.

>> The Cheshire Biltong Company is a new name on the cured meat scene. Husband and wife team Sheryl and Ryan Walker are the faces behind the brand, which has launched with an inaugural line-up of four biltong varieties, ranging from the exotic (kangaroo and ostrich) to the more conservative beef sirloin flavoured with chilli and cracked black pepper. thecheshirebiltong

Ness Point Smokehouse in Lowestoft, Suffolk, is showing that there is more to smoked fish than salmon with its latest launches. Its cold-smoked wild bass, sourced directly from local Suffolk fishermen and with 100% traceability, is a new addition to the producer’s established lines of traditional smoked fish such as kippers, bloaters and smoked haddock. With a more delicate flavour and a softer texture than other white fish, the cold-smoked wild bass can be used in risottos, salads and omelettes or simply poached and enjoyed alone. Also new from the smokehouse is hot-smoked and roasted Cornish monkfish fillet, again, sourced directly from day boats with 100% traceability. Cold smoked and then roasted, the monkfish has a texture that is akin to halibut. Both lines come ready sliced in vac packs with a five-day shelf life. RRP £40/kg; trade price £35/kg.

Seafood substitutes are tipped to be the next vegan trend, and Catch, the maker of Fabulous Fishcakes, is ready to ride that wave with its new Seacakes. Evocative of the seaside, the vegan cakes encase samphire, sea spaghetti, kelp, capers and lemon in a crispy gluten-free crumb. They are available in packs of four for retail. RRP £6.50.

Having supplied the restaurant and hotel trade with fresh and smoked rainbow trout from the River Test and River Itchen since 2015, ChalkStream Foods has launched a retail offering. Southern England is home to 95% of the world’s supply of pure chalk stream water, produced when rain seeps into the chalk seams hundreds of feet below ground. It is filtered and purified by layers of chalk before emerging again in springs or ‘aquifers’ that flow into streams and finally rivers. The purity of the chalk stream environment is reflected in the clean, mild flavour of the fish reared on farms using this water. ChalkStream products include fresh rainbow trout, fillets, hot- and cold-smoked trout, pâté and potted trout. 26

June 2021 | Vol.22 Issue 5

Gilltong, described as “a decadent halfway house between jerky and biltong, but made with smoked salmon”, is the latest launch from The Pished Fish. This sweet, salty, slightly spicy hybrid can be eaten with olives, salads, breads, charcuterie platters, cheese or pale ale. RRP £5.49 for 50g.

Strathearn Cheese Co has relaunched Lady Mary in a smaller, round format. Downsizing the cheese from 200g to 150g has also enabled the Scottish cheesemaker to lower the RRP to £4.50 and the wholesale price to £3.50. Lady Mary is a soft, creamy lactic-style cheese topped with locally foraged wild garlic and oilseed rape truffle oil.

Elite Imports has introduced a new mushroom-flavoured Brie from German cheesemaker Kaserei Champignon to the UK market. The addition of white mushrooms to Bavarian cows’ milk results in a creamy, soft-ripened cheese with a mild mushroom flavour.

Rod & Ben’s spring & summer range takes in nine seasonal varieties of organic soup, including Pea & Mint, Moroccan Vegetable and Rustic Chicken, available in 290g and 600g pots. These are joined by three organic dips: Chunky Houmous, Red Pepper Spicy Salsa and Butterbean & Chive Dip.

Historically only sold over the cheese counter in Britain, Cashel Blue is now available in pre-cut format for the first time via Rowcliffe. The 175g portions of Irish cows’ milk blue are hand cut on the farm and wrapped in the same gold foil as the whole deli wheels.

g n i r a h S ! k c a b is

Catch offers another opportunity for a high class meal customers can buy from your shop. Us committed fishy folk down on the south coast at Catch can supply you with our fabulous handmade fishcakes, beautifully packed and easily added to the basket of your customers from the chilled cabinet in a range of exciting flavours. New to our offer, developed over the last year is our Seacake – vegan, gluten-free, dairy free, fish-free option. A product evocative of the seaside, made with a variety of seaweeds, potatoes, and a crispy crumb.

Small batch producers of a range of smoked; fish, shellfish, cheese and olives

Our fish is sustainably sourced, we work with local growers and producers on our patch and are proud to be a UK producer supporting independent traders and businesses like ourselves. Please contact us for further information and samples: or 02382149900

Oak Smoked Mackerel

Smoked Queenies | 01856 874724 Vol.22 Issue 5 | June 2021


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June 2021 | Vol.22 Issue 5

for the deli counter Berkshire’s Dublicious Food has created vegetarian versions of its scotch eggs and sausage rolls. For the scotch eggs, soft centre free-range eggs are wrapped with oyster mushrooms, cheddar, oats and beluga black lentils. The sausage rolls encase a vegetarian filling with red onion chutney in homemade puff pastry. Wholesale price £1.73 for the eggs and £2.46 for the sausage rolls (£2.20 uncooked).

Helen Browning Organic is exploring new formats for its flagship Good Beef, and has launched a corned beef made from the sustainably reared meat. Said to offer a “delicious twist on a classic product”, Helen Browning’s corned beef is worlds apart from the tinned variety. It is produced from beef which has a lower carbon footprint than traditionally reared beef because it is from grass-fed, dairy-bred cows. This beef is then cured, slowly cooked in its own broth and hand pressed into terrines. RRP is £5.25 for a 150g vac pack. Also new from the Wiltshire producer is an organic cooking chorizo produced from free-range, organic British pork sourced from several farms in the southwest of England, including its own organic pork from Eastbrook Farm. It is a matured, semi-dry chorizo, with the gentle heat of chilli and paprika. RRP is £5.99 for 250g.

Paxton & Whitfield is bringing new and unusual cheeses from across Europe to UK cheese counters. With consumer buying habits changing, the cheesemonger says it is important to have a range that offers a point of difference, including cheeses that people have not tried before. These two cheeses from Belgium, not readily available in the UK market, are matured by master affineurs. Herve (RRP £9/200g) is a washed-rind, raw-milk traditional cheese that will appeal to anyone who loves an Epoisses; and Old Groendal (RRP £49/kg) is a gouda-stye cheese with bold flavours and a crystalline texture that has a huge following in the USA.

Most notably sold in Fortnum & Mason and Fenwick’s, Jarvis Pickle’s beef & ale pie has relaunched without mushrooms as a result of consumer feedback. The handcrafted pie is now solely filled with Tweed-Valley Scotch Beef and gravy made with Blackstorm Brewery’s Porter. The pies can be delivered UK-wide, loose or individually wrapped. They wholesale at £2.90 and retail at £4.50 cold.

Plant-based pies that encourage tree planting

The Fine Cheese Co has seen a surge in consumer demand for pre-sliced, pre-packed charcuterie, prompting it to expand its range to include British cured meats from Duchy Charcuterie, Trealy Farm and Tempus Fine Foods. Retail customers can choose from lines such as Speck, Napoli and Spianata from Duchy Charcuterie, Beef Carpaccio from Trealy Farm and Truffle Salami from Tempus.

Greek charcutier Kassakis is seeking to reinstate a traditional Cretan product with the launch of its smoked pancetta. Made using fresh pork, salt and local spices, the pancetta is available sliced and cubed in a variety of sizes, from 200g up to 1kg.

Cheesemakers Penny Nagle and Marcus Fergusson of Feltham’s Farm have taken inspiration from their travels in Spain and Latin America to develop a Somerset version of a queso fresco. La Fresca Margarita is a fresh, organic cheese characterised by a lemony taste that is as good with figs and honey as it is folded into a taco. Wholesale price £4 per unit.

OliveOlive is relaunching its Cyprus Village Halloumi, following the EU’s decision to grant PDO status to Cypriot-made cheese. Cyprus Village Halloumi is made from 100% goat’s milk, which gives it more flavour than cheaper imitations that tend to be made in the UK from cows’ milk.

To meet growing demand for plant-based foods, Pieminister has added three more vegan pies to its collection. Evergreen is packed with kale, spinach and edamame, Mooless Moo is Pieminister’s vegan answer to steak & ale; and Mock-adoodle features Tofurky’s plant-based ‘chicken’. RRP £4.50 for 270g. The entire Pieminister range is now packaged in fully recyclable windowless boxes and for every plantbased pie sold, Pieminister will donate 10p towards forest planting.

The current boom in home pizza making has prompted Somerset Charcuterie to develop a pepperoni. Made from free-range rare-breed pork (75%), supplemented with grass-fed beef (25%), the pepperoni is available in 60g sliced retail packs as well as whole for deli counters. Vol.22 Issue 5 | June 2021


Getting some perspective Fine Food Digest has teamed up with Speciality & Fine Food Fair to gain more of an insight into the impact of the last 15 months – on both producers and buyers in the fine food sector. Here’s what we discovered about the sector’s changing relationship with online platforms, alterations to foodservice and how businesses are approaching sustainability.

How we did it Speciality & Fine Food Fair organiser Montgomery conducted two separate surveys online, via an email link. One posed questions to buyers, a group which includes primarily retailers but also those who source products for the foodservice and hospitality sectors. In total there were 793 respondents from this group. The second survey was answered by producers and suppliers, with 340 individuals responding in total.

Foodservice might never be the same again If you have a café/foodservice offer as part of your shop, how much has that part of the business changed?* No change

Will you be restoring this foodservice offer to its previous pre-pandemic version? Or will you change your approach? 60

A little




40 30 20 10 A moderate amount / somewhat

0 A great deal

*431 respondents deemed this question ‘Not applicable’. Data from 362 respondents.


of businesses with a foodservice or café offer reported a “great deal” of change to that part of their operation


June 2021 | Vol.22 Issue 5

No, I will change my approach

Yes, I will be restoring it to pre-pandemic

*388 respondents deemed this question ‘Not applicable’. Data from 405 respondents.

Behind the data Last year, FFD spoke to plenty of businesses that had repurposed the floor space used for dining and café seating into more space for retail or delivery packing – or they switched to food-to-go. It’s interesting to see a near-perfect split between those who want to return to their pre-pandemic café offer and those who are happy to move on, having discovered they can do things differently – or not at all.


Doing business online – the retailers’ big shift Have your online sales grown since March 2020? 60

How has your online presence changed?* A great deal


No change

50 40


30 20 10 0

10% 4.5%

A moderate amount

Somewhat No change

Significant Significant No online offering decline increase

A little

What improvements did you make?*


of businesses launched new websites, expanded their online retail offer or redesigned


* 145 respondents deemed this question not applicable


paid for some form of advertising or promotion on social media

made improvements to their social media strategy. Instagram and Facebook are the most frequently mentioned sites.

How much product sourcing do you do online?*


respondents hired (or paid for a professional consultant) to handle social media, marketing or online sales

Captured comments




“We have recruited internally for someone to manage our socials, changed our style of imagery (using lifestyle shots more, rather than product shots), and have been working closer with suppliers to do joint sharing on socials.” “While we were closed we tried to engage our customers with recipe videos and included a competition where customers posted their dishes.” “We were lucky and had a celebrity who visited a few times and it was posted in the daily papers. As a result we had 520,000 hits on our website. We also used Google Ad Words at the beginning of the pandemic to advertise our delivery service.”

A little A lot


staged online events

Behind the data After years of debate in the industry about whether it could work as a sales channel for food & drink, online finally came of age in 2020. Admittedly, the arrival of COVID-19 was the catalyst that internet food retailing needed to really get going, but it’s a method of buying that many consumers have now embraced. While many retailers (as borne out here) and producers have found a new route to market, the internet has also proven itself to be a vital marketing tool for retailers across the UK. The data here certainly backs that up, with a wealth of different strategies mentioned – from simply posting more on Instagram and putting on online tastings through to investing in social media advertising and hiring professionals to improve digital marketing.

*102 respondents deemed this question not applicable. Total respondents 691.

Vol.22 Issue 5 | June 2021


market research

How buyers view sustainability How important are sustainable credentials (ethical sourcing, eco-friendly packaging) when sourcing new products?


55% of respondents said they had made sustainable changes to their business within the past 12 months


50 40


30 20


10 0

Very important

Important / moderately important

Of little or no importance

How important is promoting sustainable, local and seasonal products? 60 50 40


no responsible plastics supplier no programme surpluses B Corp clingfilm to status

Important / moderately important

Whether you look at it from a producer’s or a buyer’s position, sustainability has been becoming a more prevalent concern – driven by increasing awareness and demand from consumers. It seems the pandemic has done very little to slow this down. All of the data displayed on this page points to environmentally friendly and ethical business practices becoming the norm in the speciality food sector.

Of little or no importance

The producers’ view on sustainability How important are sustainable credentials (ethical sourcing, eco-friendly packaging) for you when developing new products?



said ‘very important’

said ‘of little or no importance’

food banks

Behind the data



June 2021 | Vol.22 Issue 5

“We encourage our customers to give us their takeaway packaging – in return for a free tea – to encourage them to not use the litter bins and allow us to recycle commercially for them.”

reusable product containers



“We introduce an Unpackaged selfweigh unit and have reduced plastic packaging in favour of kraft card.”

change of regional suppliers


Very important

“We’re trying to move away from plastic wherever there is a suitable alternative available. It’s difficult due to the price increase of eco materials to plastic.”

What were those changes?



Captured comments

Do your buyers understand and want ethical and environmentally friendly products? 80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0


6% No

23% Not sure


70% of those surveyed said they incorporate or promote their sustainable credentials in their branding and packaging

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Fish4Ever was founded on the idea of bringing organic values to sustainability in fish. Rated a world beating 89% by Greenpeace, our Skipjack isn’t only the best option in ethical terms, it’s also the best for quality. That’s because our little island factory in the Azores only works from whole fish rather than frozen pre processed loins and we only add really good, natural and organic ingredients. Using named, locally owned and operated pole and lines boats this is tuna you can trust for taste and sustainability // 01189 238760 Vol.22 Issue 5 | June 2021


Chickee’s creator, Mauro, has always been a huge lover of vegan foods and especially hummus. The lack of quality and bland flavouring led to trying out different combos to create incredible fresh & vibrant flavours. From Mauro’s home, hummus, dips & snacks were created for close friends and neighbours to reimagine the surplus food rescued from restaurants & farmers. Recognising that the hummus had more potential and hearing great feedback and support pushed him to grow and develop Chickee today. We now supply the majority of our vegetables from ethical & local producers to make healthy, fresh and nutritious hummus. Also, you can find us in some small independent shops across London. Visit our website for a full story at and if you wish to contact us please email

We are offering a complimentary 100g bar with every order over £20 for the month of March. Please quote FINEFOODS on ordering

When Food Becomes Artwork Stunning Bonbons, Truffles, Bars & Treats. Handmade in Scotland. At Bella Chocolate we use couverture chocolate for our creations as well as only natural ingredients and no added nasties. Bella Chocolate can accommodate most dietary requirements We will work with clients to create something special for everyone. Have a special request? We love a challenge!



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June 2021 | Vol.22 Issue 5

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market research

A changing market for producers Has COVID changed the way you do business with customers?




No, there’s no change

Yes, a great deal

Yes, a moderate amount

Have you set up the means to sell direct to consumers?

What percentage of your sales does this now account for?* 81%-100%






60 50 40


30 20


10 0



21%-40% *254 respondents who had set up direct-to-consumer sales

Behind the data The responses from producers to this section of the survey will come as little surprise to anyone with even a passing interest in food & drink. Most companies that make or supply food have had little choice but to set up some kind of direct-to-consumer sales channel to make up for the losses from foodservice’s shutdown and, in some cases, a dip in retail sales. That said, setting up a platform to reach consumers doesn’t guarantee success. So it’s interesting to see that 40% of respondents now count their D2C channel as a major contributor to their turnover. It’s not just routes to market that have been affected, with a good deal of respondents saying they had tweaked their product ranges, formats for existing items and methods of production within the last year or so. The fact that most firms won’t be reverting to pre-COVID practices and product lines is in keeping with the legacy of this pandemic. Permanent change has been the norm in many businesses and personal situations.


of suppliers said they had made other changes to production methods and/ or the range they offered.


Captured comments “We have had to go back to the supermarkets, which goes against the grain – but needs must.” “I now offer a bespoke gift service which incorporates products from other local producers.” “We have fewer products in stock and more just-intime production to avoid overstocking situations like in 2020, so there’s a longer delay for orders.” “We have reduced our range to allow increased focus on the ‘crowd pleasing’ brands in our offer.”

of these companies said the changes would be permanent

Get ready for Speciality & Fine Food Fair Whether you’re a visitor or a potential exhibitor, visit for more information about the 2021 show.

Vol.22 Issue 5 | June 2021



June 2021 | Vol.22 Issue 5

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SOY-GLAZED SQUASH SALAD A perfect marriage of umami-rich squash and Asian ingredients, these roasted beauties will jazz up any salad menu. And it’s something you can offer well into the autumn – if you like to keep things seasonal. Serves: 4 Ingredients: For the salad: 1 large squash, cut into chunks Salad leaves: cos, Asian leaves or bok choi, lightly steamed 1 red chilli, sliced (optional) 2 tbsp sesame seeds 4 spring onions, finely sliced

For the dressing: 1 x 5cm stick of ginger, peeled and cut into matchsticks 1 clove garlic, grated 6 tbsp soy sauce 4 tbsp maple syrup 3 tbsp rice vinegar

Method: Preheat the oven to 200°C.

Place the squash on a baking tray and drizzle over a little olive oil. Roast for 45mins or until soft and slightly charred at the edges. Meanwhile, mix the dressing ingredients together. Remove the squash from the oven and toss in the dressing. Return to the oven for 10-12 minutes to caramelise. Once the squash is ready, remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly. Serve the warm squash over the salad leaves or bok choi, topped with chilli, sesame seeds and spring onions.

UK-based Celebration Packaging has launched its disposable and fully recyclable EnviroWare® paper cutlery range in retail packs of 20 knives, forks or spoons. The range is made from paper produced from sustainable forests and has full FSC accreditation. The outer packaging is own-label branded to fit in with retailers’ existing retail homeware and picnic ranges. Ingredients distributor Henley Bridge has unveiled a range of ambient fruit purées to help time-pressed chefs, mixologists and bakers. The ready-to-use purées from leading French manufacturer Boiron come in six flavours: strawberry, raspberry, mango, passion fruit, blackberry and yellow peach. They contain no added sugar and the 1-litre cartons can be stored at room temperature.

Michael Lane

Ovation Outdoor is the UK agent for the Grizzly Commercial charcoal and woodfired oven. Manufactured in Sheffield, the oven (£2,535+VAT) is able to grill, bake and slowroast, as well as perform hot and cold smoking. Cooking temperatures (100°C-350°C) can be monitored via a built-in thermometer, and the unit can be used as a table-top appliance or on a stand with locking wheels.

Recipe by Jules Mercer for Fine Food Digest Vol.22 Issue 5 | June 2021


CATEGORY FOCUS IMPORTERS & DISTRIBUTORS GUIDE 2021 Whether you’re seeking food from Europe, Asia or closer to home, FFD’s annual directory is here to help independents weigh up their wholesale options Compiled by Tom Dale

KEY Importer Ambient Chilled Charcuterie Vegan / Free-from / Wholefoods Cheese Foodservice

Importers & distributors guide 2021 42 50

June 2021 2017 | Vol.22 Vol.18 Issue 5

>> ????????

L’Aquila Min. order value: None Delivers to: UK & Ireland L’Aquila specialises in Mediterranean vegetable ingredients including truffles, wild & exotic cultivated mushrooms (dried/marinated), roasted vegetables, pestos, olives, semi/sun-dried tomatoes, dried and cooked pulses and cereals and plant-based meat and fish substitutes.

The Artisan Olive Oil Company artisanoliveoilcompany. com Min. order value: £125 Delivers to: UK An importer and distributor of Mediterranean organic fine foods and ingredients, The Artisan Olive Oil Company also has its own range of products. The wholesaler stocks oils from Frantoio Franci, Oro Bailen, Olio Diliberto among others Its range also includes other lines such as Tunisian antipasti and sauces from Moulins Mahjoub and Provençal preserves and spreads from aix&terra.

Curd & Cure Min. order value: £50 (own van) £100 (courier) Delivers to: UK Specialising in British and regional artisan foods, Curd & Cure stocks a range of cheese, charcuterie and other speciality food & drink. It holds its own signature range of cheese and meat pre-packs as well as its own-brand lines Deli Tubs, Tiddly Blue cheese, and Rescue Range Soups. It also carries a large range of fine cheses, vegan cheeses, cheese accompaniments, meats, and more.

Carron Lodge Min. order value: £50 Delivers to: UK Carron Lodge’s core range is speciality cheese, but the company also stocks olives, charcuterie and patés, and now vegan cheeses, among other fine foods. Cheesemakers of awardwinning Inglewhite Buffalo Cheese, Lancashire Blue and Shipston Blue, Carron Lodge also carries a range of other cheeses and imports yet more.

Ballancourt Min. order value: £100 Delivers to: UK Ballancourt is an importer and distributor of French delicacies, including pâtés, terrines and rillettes. While mainly stocking a variety of private label products, the range is extensive and also includes select lines from other producers. The company also offers a labelling service enabling retailers to have their own branding applied to Ballancourt’s lines.

Olives Et Al Min. order value: None Delivers to: UK Established 27 years ago, Olives Et Al supplies a large range of olives and other antipasti, as well as exclusive lines from Captain TipToes and Spirit of Estia. Its range of Mediterraneaninspired foods spans oils & dressings, nuts & snacks and store cupboard ingredients.

Nikki Castley, head buyer The Cress Company Despite huge growth spurred on by the shift in consumer behaviour during the pandemic – which has allowed The Cress Company to bring forward two big moves – head buyer Nikki Castley remains reticent in her celebrations. “It’s been a strange year,” she says. “We’ve seen a lot of businesses close, and we’ve been very fortunate to have come through it. Normally it would be amazing to achieve the growth we’ve had but the reasons behind that growth mean it’s a little bit tainted.” It has, though, allowed the distributor to fasttrack two projects that had been in the pipeline – expanding into new larger premises north of the border in Dunfermline and southwards to open a depot in Telford. Castley says that the plan was never to undertake both moves in the same year, but the COVID-influenced growth has allowed the business to do so. “It’s an amazing opportunity,” she says. “It’s been super busy – a mammoth task – but we’ve managed to maintain normal service.” The company’s recent move into its new 78,000sqft warehouse and office complex has allowed it to accommodate new ranges and expand its catalogue to keep up with the shifting demand brought on by COVID, including more basics and storecupboard essentials. Meanwhile, the move

into Telford earlier this year opened up target markets in Wales and the South West and helped the company shake off its ‘Scottish distributor’ tag, and is set to be followed by the opening of a chilled distribution hub in the Shropshire town this month. “We now go all the way down to the South Coast,” says Castley. “We’re just about covering the country in Cress green, but there are still a few areas that remain untouched.” The new depot is allowing the company to expand its chilled range, again catering for the new customers who have found their way to independents during the pandemic. “Our latest chilled catalogue is more convenience-led. Our customers are looking for ranges that will fit with what their new customers are demanding, which is more on that everyday basket spend.” Castley tells FFD that there is a lot she is excited about in the latest catalogues, but is keeping the details quiet for now.

Cress Co. Minimum order value: £175 Delivers to: UK The Cress Co offers a range of ambient and chilled lines, predominantly from the UK, and carries both small artisan producers through to larger brands. Signature brands include Brigston & Co (Scottish handmade craft smoked hot dogs), Orkney Craft Vinegar (which produces vinegar from a rare strain of barley called Bere), and Londonbased La Tua Pasta.

Vol.18 Issue 5 | June 2021 Vol.22 2017

51 43


50 44

The Fine Food Forager Min. order value: No MOQ (Greater London area) Delivers to: UK A distributor of British food & drink to independents, The Fine Food Forager supports a low-waste economy by providing orders in recyclable bags and boxes. Brands exclusive to the company include Greensand Ridge gin & spirits, a range of sustainable ketchup and mayonnaise, honey and organic maple syrup in bulk and retail formats .

Salento Min. order value: £395 Delivers to: UK & EU Italian food specialist Salento sources ambient lines from every region of Italy. These include brands such as Alda and Antichi Dolci di Siena (amaretti/ biscuits), Antonio Marella (naturally coloured pasta), Benedetto Cavalieri (pasta), Boella & Sorriso (chocolate), Dal Forner (cakes/biscuits), and DonAntonio (pasta sauces).

Blas ar Fwyd Min. order value: £35 in Wales, rest of UK varies Delivers to: UK Blas ar Fwyd is a North Wales-based food manufacturer and fine food & wine wholesaler distributing throughout Wales and mainland UK to retail and hospitality. It works with over 150 Welsh producers specialising in quality artisan products, alongside Blas ar Fwyd handmade products – which are made in its SALSA approved kitchens and have won over 45 Great Taste Award

Greencity Wholefoods Min. order value: £100 Delivers to: Scotland, NI, Northern England A Glasgow-based wholesaler of wholefoods with a focus on ethical business, Greencity Wholefoods does not sell any products tested on animals and only sells goods that are suitable for vegetarians. Exclusive brands that can be found in the company’s catalogue include Rapscallion soda, You & I Kombucha, Angus Apple juice, Leftfield kombucha, Tchai Ovna loose tea, Uber bars and Spartan Protein bars.

The Craft Drink Co Min. order value: £100 for van delivery (£200, courier) Delivers to: Central England (van)/ nationwide The Craft Drink Co is a wholesaler specialising in British craft and small batch drinks including beers, ciders, spirits, English wine and soft drinks. Its signature brands include Bath Ales, Hook Norton Brewery, Purity Brewing, Dunkertons Cider, Westons Cider, Cotswolds Distillery and more than 150 other craft drink brands.

Paxton & Whitfield Min. order value: £250 for free delivery Delivers to: UK mainland One of Britain’s oldest cheesemongers, Paxton & Whitfield is a wholesaler of British and Continental artisan cheeses, fine foods, alcohol and cheese-related homewares. As well as offering hampers and gift ranges, it also has a number of own-branded lines including cheese biscuits, savoury chutneys, sweet preserves, real ales and wines.

The Olive Oil Co. Min. order value: £70 Delivers to: UK The Olive Oil Co. is an importer and distributor of fine extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegars from Italy. The wholesaler also stocks a range of flavoured oils, balsamic condiments and glazes, oilves, preserves, gifts, and offers a private label service on its own-brand lines.

Il Fattore Min. order value: £100, UK mainland, or £200, islands and highlands Delivers to: UK Specialising in artisan Italian products, Il Fattore is an importer and distributor. It stocks antipasti, pasta & sauces, oils & vinegars, cheese, truffles, honey & jam, and carries signature brands Pastificio Morelli, Sala Cereali, Masseria Mirogallo, Galup and Stefania Calugi.

Brindisa Min. order value: None Delivers to: UK mainland Established more than 30 years ago, Brindisa is an importer, wholesaler and distributor specialising in Spanish foods – primarily meat, fish, cheeses, olives and olive oil – and also offering tastings and product training for its customers. It stocks a host of brands including Perelló, La Chinata, Patatas Torres, Ortiz and El Navarrico, as well as offering private label lines.

Italicatessen Min. order value: None Delivers to: UK Founded in 2002, Italicatessen is an importer and distributor of fine Italian food and wines. The company has a team of food & wine consultants who provide pre- and post-sales service to help its customers select and sell the best products for their business. It carries signature brands Alce Nero, Pedrazzoli, Golfera, Giusti, Centrale del Latte di Brescia, Casarrigoni and many more.

June 2021 2017 | Vol.22 Vol.18 Issue 5





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David Harrison, CEO, Seggiano “We’ve had the most incredible pandemic,” says Harrison, and this is borne out by last year’s 45% increase in turnover. The brand was “perfectly positioned” for the shift in consumer behaviour to luxury grocery, says the founder. “Our tagline is ‘Real food from Italy’ but now it should be ‘best in category Italian larder essentials’,” he says. Pasta, sauces, pestos and EVOOs are all areas that saw growth when the nation was locked down and disposable income began to pile up for some last year. And as food became the one outlet for luxury left for the legions of newly spawned high-end home cooks, Seggiano, says Harrison, was the obvious choice for a step up in all these departments. Less expected, though, was the lift to the brand’s sweeter lines. Harrison was surprised to find pick-up in its jams and chocolate spreads, as consumers sought out luxury versions of their store cupboard staples. The nation’s appetite for fine Continental foods is still on the rise, believes Harrison, despite Brexit and the issues around importing that have been created therein. “If we can keep it on the shelves, then people are going to buy it,” he says, provided the price doesn’t rise considerably. But Seggiano has so far managed to handle the turbulent trading period by upping volumes and keeping boots on the ground in Italy. “Brexit has caused some hiccups,”

he says, “but thankfully we’re not a tiny operation anymore which means we’ve got a team of people who can figure out how to make things move smoothly.” The business is currently absorbing the “couple of per cent” change in costs due to added price of importing. Harrison says that Brexit is “just another bump in the rocky road of the previous year”, and that the pandemic offered a great opportunity to prepare. “Coronavirus stresstested our business systems to the limit over the last year – and we’re still here, so they’ve worked,” he says. “Brexit was just another horrible hurdle to jump.” Inspired by COVID and the consumer shift to home cooking, Seggiano has been working hard on some condiment new product development for 2021. Soon to be released, and still relatively hushhush, says Harrison, is a range of herbs that is completely new to market. They are neither fresh, nor dried, yet harness the benefits of both. Also in the pipeline is a new pasta cut – calamarata – and an organic Sicilian aubergine pasta sauce.

Seggiano Min. order value: None Delivers to: International For over 20 years, Seggiano has imported Italian goods from regions such as Tuscany, Sicily, Modena, Puglia and Calabria. Specialising in Italian larder essentials, it is well-known for its Lunaio olive oils and Seggiano balsamic vinegars but also carries products in other categories, including pestos, tapenades, pâtés, organic durum wheat pasta, Lingue flatbreads and organic chocolate hazelnut spreads.

Artisan Food Club Min. order value: Varies by producer Delivers to: International The Artisan Food Club works with artisan and startup brands to allow retailers to source from small and medium-sized producers through central invoicing and introduction orders, making its drop-shipping model very easy to use. Effectively it’s a wholesaler that carries no stock and all orders are sent direct from the producer, which means retailers have access to their full ranges.

Infinity Foods infinityfoodswholesale. coop Min. order value: On application Delivers to: UK Infinity Foods sources ambient products from across the globe but specialises in organic brands such as olive company Lesbian Donkey, Mr Organic, and Rude Health cereals. It also produces an own-branded range of goods, covering categories like cereal grains, beans, pulses, and sweet snacks & confectionery.


The Fine Cheese Co. Min. order value: £150 Delivers to: UK As well as being a retailer, The Fine Cheese Co is a wholesaler, distributor and importer that specialises in British and European cheese and charcuterie. It also carries a range of premium imported dry goods from Europe and the USA alongside its own The Fine Cheese Co brand of crackers and accompaniments.

Delicioso Min. order value: No minimum, free delivery over £300 Delivers to: UK & Ireland Spanish food specialist Delicioso sources ambient, charcuterie and cheese lines from every region of Spain. These include brands like Pujado Solano, Azada Organic, Can Bech and Cudie, as well as its own branded lines of salsas, charcuterie, olives and pickles, tortas and picos.

Best of Hungary Min. order value: None Delivers to: UK Best of Hungary carries fine foods and wine from Hungarian producers, many of which are SMEs and social co-operatives. The company is the exclusive supplier of brands including Great Taste award-winning producers such as Donum Terrae, Danubius Caviar and Hungarian Heritage black truffle products. The importer also supplies Hungarian paprika and honey in bulk for foodservice.

Organico Realfoods Min. order value: £500 Delivers to: UK mainland Organico Realfoods sources organic products from all over the globe but mainly from Europe. Signature brands include sustainable canned fish brand Fish4Ever, Redferns, juice brand Vitamont and It’s Soya Good as well as its Organicobranded lines. It has recently opened an EU-based subsidiary.

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Holleys Fine Foods Min. order value: £100 within van delivery area Delivers to: UK Established in 1970, Holleys Fine Foods covers a whole range of premium ambient products, including bakery items, snacks, confectionery, world foods and preserves. It also carries a range of seasonal items. Signature brands it stocks include cheese straws from West Country Legends, Barney Jack’s heritage confectionery, Highfield Preserves, and Bakewell & Browne.

The Oil Merchant Min. order value: £350 or £80 inside London Delivers to: UK The Oil Merchant specialises in estate-bottled extra virgin olive oil from Europe and further afield, including South Africa. Over the years, the importer and distributor has expanded its offering, adding vinegars, honey, and Lebanese products to its range. Among the brands the business imports exclusively are Frescobaldi, Colonna, Ravida, and Marques de Valdueza.

Cotswold Fayre Min. order value: £250 (ambient), £100 (chilled) Delivers to: UK Originally a distribution hub for a few small producers in the Cotswolds, the distributor is now one of the largest speciality wholesalers in the UK, representing more than 350 suppliers of ambient and chilled products. It has a large selection of exclusive brands including Cumbrian Delights and Ines Rosales Spanish tortas, as well as its a signature brand, The Ministers of Taste. It has also recently partnered with zero-waste brand Unpackaged to offer a onestop refill service.

Just so Italian Min. order value: None Delivers to: UK Just So Italian specialises in quality Italian food and carries a full range of meats, cheeses, antipasti, pasta, sauces, biscuits & pastries, coffee and drinks. It has exclusive distribution on many of its lines, including pasta from Pastificio Masciarelli, ‘Nduja and other spicy antipasti from Fattoria Sila and coffee from Saccaria.

Mahalo Min. order value: None Delivers to: UK Launched in August 2020 and specialising in emerging brands through working with Bread & Jam, Mahalo is an independent-focused online distributor of speciality food & drink. Carrying many new-to-market lines, the company stocks signature brands Payst, Happy Eating House, BeeHype, Bold Bean Co, Rempapa, KindaCo, and many more.

Cryer & Stott Min. order value: £100 Delivers to: UK With a strong focus on British products, Cryer & Stott is a wholesaler and distributor of cheese and fine foods. The company works with cheesemakers across the nation and also stocks its own range of cheeses. As well as cheese, Cryer & Stott carries a range of other dairy products, charcuterie, chutneys, antipasti and now a range of vegan ‘cheases’ and pies.

The Gorgeous Food Company gorgeousfoodcompany. Min. order value: None Delivers to: UK The Gorgeous Food Company’s catalogue spans an extensive range of ambient categories, including confectionery, crisps & snacks, cold drinks, bakery, grocery, tea & coffee, gifts & homewares and world foods. Brands retailers can discover with the distributor include Atkins & Potts, Cocoba, Willies Cacao, Simply Cornish, Inspired Dining, Inspired Vegan, Charlie & Ivy’s, Fruity Kitchen, Makers & Merchants, Tregothnan, Anila’s and William Whistle.

Tenuta Marmorelle Min. order value: £100 Delivers to: UK & Ireland A producer of extra virgin olive oil and importer of fine foods, Tenuta Marmorelle sources fresh and ambient products from all over Italy. Brands include Casanova balsamic vinegar, Borsari Panettone, Villani Charcuterie, Viander and Tartufi Jimmy. The distributor has direct relationships with its clients and offers support in the form of staff training and tasting days.

Iberica Spanish Food Min. order value: £90 Delivers to: Sussex, Surrey and Kent Iberica offers a wide range of authentic and traditional Spanish products, many of which are protected under DOP, ETG, and IGP certification from the EU. It carries charcuterie, such as chorizo and Iberico ham, and cheeses, as well as olive oil and store cupboard ingredients.

Country Products Min. order value: £150 for free delivery Delivers to: UK Country Products is a distributor specialising in wholefoods, storecupboard items and baking ingredients – largely under its own brand. It also offers a contract packing service.

June 2021 2017 | Vol.22 Vol.18 Issue 5


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SHELF TALK Cake brand making treats that are healthy for people and planet Dorset-based no-bake cake company Green + Grainy has rebranded, refreshed its recipes, launched new breakfast bars, and switched to 100% compostable packaging as part of the owner’s drive to make the business as sustainable as possible. Owner Teddie Naish has altered the makeup of the entire eight-strong range, making more significant changes to two products, and is working towards making the brand’s entire range of healthy treats completely organic. The biggest changes have been to its Snickeroo bar – which has been made sweeter and more chocolatey with the addition of coconut

sugar and extra cacao – and the Black Forest Brownie, formerly the Chocolate Praline, which has been boosted with the inclusion of sour cherries and Brazil nuts. Naish took over the business in 2020 and has since set about putting her sustainable mark on the Great Taste-winning healthy cake brand. She told FFD that her background in sourcing speciality coffees has led to a new approach to procuring ingredients. “I aim to source directly from regenerative farms and to inspire consumers to take an interest in not only where their food is coming from, but how it is being grown,” she said. The entire range is free from palm oil and soy – crops with a reputation for problematic farming practices, said Naish – and the business owner is working with Kiss The Ground, a nonprofit that champions regenerative farming. Green + Grainy’s cakes are made with whole ingredients and are free from processed sugars, instead using dates and coconut nectar to sweeten the treats. “The refined sugars that are used in normal cakes will really spike your insulin levels, and this is why you’ll crash after eating them,” said Naish. “It’s naughty, but you could eat these for breakfast and it wouldn’t leave you feeling rubbish.” The brand’s no-bake cakes – also gluten- and dairy-free – have RRPs between £2.75 and £3.25 per portion and cost £24 for a tray of 15 pre-cut slices. Its new Breakfast Bars cost £16 for a tray of 12 pre-cut slices, RRP £2.75. The brand is also set to launch a four-strong range of granolas soon. Wiltshire-based Tracklements has launched a special edition Indian-inspired pickle which is more versatile than a simple accompaniment for papadums. Lively Lemon Pickle is made with lemons, sultanas, ginger, garlic, mustard seeds and chillis, and, said the producer, is the perfect pairing for chicken, fish and vegetable dishes. Tracklements MD Guy Tullberg said the pickle “has the holy trinity of heat, sweet and sour”. The vegan and gluten-free Lively Lemon Pickle will be available in cases of 6 x 220g jars with an RRP of £3.35 per unit.

WHAT’S NEW Tea India has launched a range of single-estate teas from some of India’s most renowned tea growers. The range comprises Nilgiri from the Craigmore tea garden, Darjeeling from the Badamtam tea garden, Assam from the Margherita tea gardens and Kashmiri Kahwa, a traditional Kashmiri tea. Premium cookie dough brand Doughlicious has launched a new flavour to add to its gluten-free range. Dried cranberries, oats, pumpkin seeds, coconut and cinnamon combine in Vegan Cranberry Oatmeal. The dairy- and glutenfree line is, as the name suggests, vegan and the brand says it is like a flapjack crossed with a cookie. RRP, £3.99. Noble House Prepared has added two new lines to its range: traditional hand-crumbed scones and a gourmet jumbo sausage roll filled with award-winning Blythburgh sausage meat. Both are delivered frozen. The sausage roll serves 4-6 people and has an RRP of £14.95 (trade £10.50). The scones cost £5.75 (trade) for a pack of six.

Island Bakery branches out to keep it in the family Isle of Mull-based Island Bakery has launched two new savoury product ranges, after baking sweet organic biscuits for 20 years. The Hebridean producer’s founder, Joe Reade, is the son of the owner of Isle of Mull Cheese, so the brand decided to create a range of biscuits to complement the maker’s cheeses. In a now-familiar story, the family business used the drop in sales during the first national lockdown as an opportunity to embark on some new product development, and its owners, Reade and his wife Dawn, tasked the bakery’s development chef, Fiona Aitali, with creating a range of savoury biscuits to pair with the island cheesemaker’s produce. Aitali created traditional Scottish oatcakes and all-butter Isle of Mull cheese biscuits. The oatcakes come in three varieties: Original

Organic Oatcakes, Black Pepper Organic Oatcakes and Three Seed Organic Oatcakes – with pumpkin, sunflower and linseed. Each comes in 135g packs with RRPs from £2.15. The cheese biscuits also come in three varieties: Isle of Mull Traditional Farmhouse Cheese Biscuits, Onion & Thyme and Harissa with Chilli & Cumin. These are all available in 100g packs. RRP from £3.05.

Vol.22 Issue 5 | June 2021


SHELF TALK My magic ingredient

WHAT’S NEW Durham-based loose-leaf tea merchants The Tea Enthusiasts are launching their third North East-inspired tea blend, Northumbrian Wildflower. The new line – which joins the Tyne and Durham blends – is a herbal tea inspired by the hills, valleys and coastal paths of ancient Northumberland. The new Just Add range of seed mixes by Munchy Seeds is designed to be sprinkled as a topping on various sweet and savoury dishes. Six flavours are available; three sweet Breakfast Boosters and three Savoury Sprinkles. Each one has an RRP of £2.99 for a 125g pack Sauce brand FireFly Barbecue has launched a new addition to its range: Tennessee Jalapeño Hot BBQ Sauce. Made with fresh jalapeños and blossom honey, the sauce is described as being characteristic of Tennessee and is billed as “rich and sweet, with a hint of vinegar and a lovely kick from the jalapeño”.

Rosebud Preserves Sweet Cucumber Pickle ANDY SWINSCOE Owner, The Courtyard Dairy Strangely, this is something we originally bought by accident – I probably wouldn’t have ever chosen it. What they do at Rosebud is prick the cucumbers first and then they salt them, which sucks the moisture out and gives them a good crunch. It’s got a lovely acidity and bite to it, like a really high-quality gherkin. It’s such a good pairing for melted cheese dishes like raclette or rarebit, but also with burgers and other barbecue items. There’s more flavour and texture than in your average pickled cucumber. It goes so well with rich, fatty foods because the tart crispness just cuts right through. We’re cheese purists here, and I find that a lot of pickles overpower cheeses or cheese dishes with their sweetness, and the texture of a lot of pickles is quite sloppy, but this is ideal for me as it has that sharpness, acidity and flavour without being overbearing.

James White rebrands, refreshes and expands its Thorncroft cordial range By Tom Dale

Faced with the sugar tax, which came into force in 2018, James White has refreshed the recipes of its cordials to cut the drinks’ sugar content. Alongside this, the Suffolk-based company has rebranded the range – using traditional drawings of the botanicals used in each – and added a new line. The new Turmeric Cordial uses pressed turmeric juice instead of powder. James White MD Lawrence Mallinson said: “We have been pressing turmeric juice for our Zinger range for many years. Making a cordial from this juice seemed obvious – especially as it has proved so popular for its taste as much as for its well-documented health benefits. “We think this is the world’s first turmeric cordial.” The range – comprising Wild 52

June 2021 | Vol.22 Issue 5

It goes so well with rich, fatty foods because the tart crispness just cuts right through

Elderflower, Pink Ginger, Wild Nettle, Rosehip, Detox (Dandelion & Burdock) and Kombucha – has had its sugar content cut by 37% to keep costs down in the face of the sugar tax. Mallinson said: “Reducing sugar is always a tricky challenge without upsetting existing fans of a product. In our taste trials, in those few cases where someone was able to identify the new from the old recipes, the new recipe has been preferred.” RRP £2.95, trade £10.50 (6x330ml).

Retailers looking to improve their non-food offer might consider stocking A Cornucopia of Fruit & Vegetables. The book by Caroline Ball is a collection of illustrations originally printed in an 18th century A-to-Z of edible plants (both exotic and more familiar) by the prosperous Bavarian apothecary, Johann Wilhelm Weinmann. The publisher, Bodleian Library Publishing, said: “The edible plants that Weinmann included are fascinating, not only for their variety and intrinsic beauty, but because they provide a marvellous snapshot for us of what was known about the plant kingdom in the first half of the 18th century and an insight into how certain plants were regarded.” The hardback book has an RRP of £15.



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Directly from Italy, Stocked & Distributed in the United Kingdom Vol.22 Issue 5 | June 2021



WHAT’S NEW Zing Foods has launched its debut range of spiced coconut cooking oils. Inspired by North and East African cuisine, the oils are designed to be used to roast or fry vegetables, meat or fish. The sustainably sourced oils come in three variants: Turmeric, Paprika and Pepper. All have an RRP of £4.95 per 75g, six-serving pot (trade, £3, based on a case size of 18).

Tom Hughes is the founder and owner of TUBBY TOM’S – a Gloucester-based producer of handmade hot sauces and spice mixes, dedicated to small-batch production and strong flavours, which has recently expanded to keep up with demand What were you doing before you launched Tubby Tom’s? I went to university to study animal welfare and loved it, but I always knew I wanted to do something creative. I loved food, so after I graduated, I took on a catering gig for a local farm/event place and then pursued a career as a chef in Cardiff. Why did you launch the brand? I originally started selling the sauce because my friends egged me on to do it. It all started with a single batch of BBQ sauce I’d made in the summer of 2014. My friends loved it and joked about how I should sell it and brand it as ‘Tubby Tom’s’. I thought it was pretty funny and it seemed like a great idea, so I made some more, drew up some sketchy labels and took it down to our local farm shop. What is the biggest lesson you have learned since starting the business? To do what you do wholeheartedly and believe in yourself. To cherish your friends, family, and loyal customers – I couldn’t have got this far without them. Also, remember why you’re doing it and stick to your ethos and ethics.

Chocolate Moments’ new creation taps into the sweet-savoury trend but goes a step further than salted caramel. Bar of Crisps combines two of the nation’s favourite treats – ready salted crisps and milk chocolate. Each 100g bar comes in premium packaging and retails at £6.99-£9.99 (trade price, £4.50). chocolate-moments.

What makes your hot sauces and spice mixes stand out from others on the market? Our sauces crush all opponents! We make them with a lot of passion for the craft, we’re about max flavour and are huge foodies at Tubby Tom’s HQ. We make everything our way, and unapologetically. There’s a lot of boardroomstyle, copycat, soulless bland businesses out there that are ready to suck your blood and steal your ideas, but they never stick around for long.

Our sauces crush all opponents! We make them with lots of passion.

Independent premium drinks brand Fentimans has launched some of its most popular lines in new 200ml mixer-sized bottles to meet the growing demand for longer mixed drinks. The new range will include Tonic Water, Ginger Beer and Rose Lemonade, as well as a selection of its coloured and flavoured tonics.

What is the best thing about being a small business? We’re a tight team, we work hard and play hard. Our lunchtimes are epic and we’re all genuinely friends – in and out of work. We get to listen to loud, heavy music and bash out the world’s best hot sauce all day – what’s not to like? …and the worst? There really isn’t a worst bit! We do work super hard and it’s really tiring – it’s kind of like Groundhog Day, but we’re working hard to invest in our future here – we have our sights set on some shiny machinery to help us soon! What’s next for Tubby Tom’s? World domination! We’ve got some crazy recipes in the pipelines plus some exciting food Sponsor advert 2016 print ready.pdf truck andFreshly eventGround ideas.










June 2021 | Vol.22 Issue 5


Compostable disposables brand Eco Green Living has launched a new 100%-certified compostable face mask. Created in response to the huge amount of waste associated with disposable face coverings, the compostable mask is the first of its kind in the world, and is manufactured in Leeds in order to minimise the product’s carbon footprint Once worn the mask can be put into a food caddy or garden composter and will take 12 weeks to break down. 16/08/2016 10:37

Vol.22 Issue 5 | June 2021



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LUXURY H A N D M A D E M AC A RO NS Hilton Macarons launched in May 2019 with the aim of making the perfect macaron. We use Italian meringue with free-range eggs and completely natural fillings, which are mostly Belgian chocolatebased ganaches. All the macarons are gluten free and vegetarian. The range currently comprises 18 different flavours. The macarons are supplied frozen and in individually packaged and sealed boxes of six, 12 or 18 macarons, containing menu cards and allergen information. Boxes are either Classic (mixed), Rainbow (6 flavours, Rainbow colours) or Single flavours. All the packaging is recyclable. RRPs are £12 (Box of six), £22 (Box of 12) and £30 (Box of 18). See our customers’ views on Trustpilot. Call or e-mail Andrea or James Hilton as below to discuss your requirements.

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DELI OF THE MONTH George Bennett - owner of Jorge Artisan Foods - has an uncompromising approach to, and passion for, product sourcing that has seen him develop his own successful range of oils and balsamics, as well as a dedicated customer base for his Aladdin’s Cave-style speciality food shop in the East Midlands. Interview by Tom Dale

Straight to the source YOU’VE HEARD OF the phrase ‘to strike oil’? Well, George Bennett, owner of Jorge Artisan Foods near Grantham in Lincolnshire, certainly has. The former chef’s range of plain and flavoured extra virgin olive oils is arguably the shop’s main attraction, drawing in customers from all over the UK – and farther afield – and proving perpetually popular with his regulars. “Last Saturday seven out of ten sales included one of our oils,” says Bennett. A product of Bennett’s commitment to onthe-ground sourcing and product development, these lines are what his operation is all about – discovering producers across Europe and assembling their wares in his Aladdin’s Cavestyle boutique. His own range – sold under the JORGE


Location: The Engine Yard at Belvoir Castle, Belvoir, Grantham Turnover: £210,000 (pre COVID) Average spend: £50 Retail floorspace: 70m² Gross margin – shop: 40% Sales split (retail/foodservice): 60/40 60

June 2021 | Vol.22 Issue 5

brand name – sits alongside thousands of other handpicked lines in his 70m2 unit in a small shopping district in the grounds of Belvoir Castle. Bennett’s journey into speciality retail began after a burgeoning career as a chef – working with the likes of Jamie Oliver – was cut short by a major spinal injury in 2010. “For the first few years, I couldn’t do anything,” he says. “I thought I’d come back to the family home, sort myself out and go back to London, but it just took so long to recover.” While he was holed up, the former fine art student began developing recipes and making jams and chutneys when a chance encounter with the manager of Doddington Hall Farm Shop prompted him to begin selling his products.

Then, in 2013, he began working with small family estates in Greece and Italy to launch a range of EVOOs and balsamics, and the ’JORGE’ range started to grow. Using connections forged during his time working and living on the Continent, he had the oils and vinegars bottled under his brand and imported. After selling his range at food shows and events, and growing his reputation through private catering jobs, another chance encounter in 2018 led him to open his retail operation. “I’ve always liked the idea of opening a deli-café,” he says. And then, while working at an event at Belvoir Castle, he was asked to open a unit at a new artisan village, which was being developed on the site of derelict pump houses and engine rooms at the foot of the castle. Bennett took the chance and opened Jorge

MUST-STOCKS JORGE Pesto EVOO JORGE Raspberry Balsamic Vinegar Whole truffles JORGE fresh Nocellara olives Colston Bassett Stilton Handmade Seville marmalades

Artisan Foods. From the start, Bennett had a clear concept. “I wanted a place to sell my own products, stock the best artisan foods I can find from across Europe, and to sell some dishes that showcase the best of the ingredients that we sell.” And, three years on, his vision is being borne out – albeit hampered by COVID. “Before the pandemic, we would head over to Europe or somewhere in Britain every month – I’d book a place to stay, get in touch with contacts in the region and go and explore the food – visit small olive estates and wineries, cheesemakers and other producers. I love it.” “Jorge Artisan Foods, as the name suggests, is about the artisans. I didn’t want to get a shop and just fill it full of things that you can buy anywhere – I wanted to do something different, something that’s got the products I’ve discovered myself.” And this commitment to uncovering the rare and exciting has earned Bennett a dedicated customer base. “We get people who spend £200 every week,” he says. “They’re not picking up high-end essentials, they want to see what I’ve got and try something new.” And this is no mean feat considering the retailer’s relatively remote location. Situated between Grantham and Nottingham in a heavily rural area, Jorge lacks any sizable population centres to serve it with passing trade. Nevertheless, Bennett has grown his brand’s following by running pop-up shops in nearby towns, doing private catering that showcases the shop’s lines, and utilising the name his oils, balsamics and preserves have gained to draw in customers from across the country. “We get

a lot of people who’ve bought our stuff online who will come up for the day and get to know the shop.” However, the retailer’s location was to prove problematic when COVID struck. With travel restricted, trade dried up almost entirely, says Bennett. “We went from turning over more than £200,000 in 2019 down to around £70,000 last year.” The regular customers largely stopped venturing out to Jorge and all the tourists and passing trade from the neighbouring castle dried up entirely. Bennett furloughed his entire team and sustained the business by developing his online shop and delivering orders locally. “A few of our customers who usually live in London had come up to their country homes, so we were doing a lot of deliveries for them. It felt like I was a personal shopper for some!” he said. He also made gift bags from his stock and donations from producers for NHS staff and distributed them to local hospitals – something that contributed to the retailer’s nomination in the 2021 Farm Shop & Deli Awards. Since then, trade has remained slow in the physical store, and Bennett has had to reduce his range and bring in some “filler” items to keep the shelves stocked. “We used to have loads of fresh lines – locally baked bread, amazing fruit and veg – but we’ve stopped that for now, it’s just not viable.” Jorge Artisan Foods’ deli counter has also taken a big hit. Where before it was full of whole cheeses, salamis and hand-prepared

JORGE ceramics Myers Lincolnshire plum loaf Handmade pasta from Puglia JORGE Moroccan Hummus ’Nduja JORGE Smoked Salmon Pâté Tuscan Ragu Sauce JORGE Lime EVOO


Vol.22 Issue 5 | June 2021


DELI OF THE MONTH antipasti, it is now reduced to pre-packs and a lone bowl of olives. But most disappointing for the former chef was the loss of his foodservice trade. Bennett creates small plates, antipasti, and tapas-style dishes to showcase the ingredients on his shelves and drive customers to the exclusive lines he stocks. With the end of COVID in sight, and government restrictions coming to an end, however, the owner has a plan. Although it’s currently still a building site, Jorge will be opening a tasting room-cum-retail operation 20-minutes’ drive from the current site. “The idea is to have groups in to do wine, cheese and charcuterie pairings and tastings to get people trying the things that we sell here and let them know about the shop,” he says. Also in the new unit will be a production kitchen to help Bennett to grow the private catering side of his business and allow the producer-retailer to manufacture greater volumes of his preserves and dishes.

“The items I create are such a big draw for the business,” he says. “I started making our own-brand hummus and fish pâtés as a one-off. Now, if we don’t have it people complain.” Bennett has an undeniable nous for quality that has seen him introduce many successful ranges to his operation – both food and nonfood. To show off his culinary creations and for oil and balsamic samples at shows, Bennett bought a range of artisan tapas-ware and ceramics from Spain and, after repeated requests for the source, he decided to begin importing a selection. “We worked with a guy out in Spain who painted all of these amazing handmade ceramics and we worked on some designs with him to create an exclusive range for JORGE. “Now it’s a huge part of our offer.” With more new ranges in the pipeline – both Bennett’s creations and some imported lines for which the owner has collaborated with a Spanish producer – and his new site opening within months, things are looking up at Jorge.

Having not benefited from the same boon in trade that other food retailers have received during the pandemic and been hit with huge importing issues due to Brexit – some deliveries due in the New Year are still missing in Continental Europe – Bennett could have easily lost hope. He has however taken the time to work on recipes and private catering jobs, develop the concept of his new tasting room and grow his online trade – even picking up orders for his branded balsamic from Milan. And with travel restrictions slowly easing, he is excited to get back on the road to uncover more unique products. “We’d been growing the business and its following year-on-year before this, and it’s been a tough year,” he says. “But now I’m just looking forward to getting back to the side of the business I’m really passionate about; discovering amazing ingredients and creating dishes to show my customers what they’re all about.”

I didn’t want to get a shop and fill it full of things that you can buy anywhere – I wanted to do something different


June 2021 | Vol.22 Issue 5

Beautiful books for food lovers Offer something extra this summer

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Vol.22 Issue 5 | June 2021


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FREE UK DELIVERY | Vol.22 Issue 5 | June 2021


Vol.22 Issue 5 | June 2021



View from HQ

By John Farrand managing director

THE MEMBERSHIP APPROVAL meetings have become a little heated here at the Guild. Not because we’re more exacting since the publication of our charter, or because applications are up due to a concerted effort to recruit retail members through various activity, least of all the Deli Retailing Code of Practice. No, the temperature has risen because we’ve been inundated with some rather maverick application forms, leading to a

news from the guild of fine food difference of opinion in the team. COVID has given us a dilemma. And it might be one to celebrate, admire and encourage. The Guild isn’t going to restructure anytime soon, but if it did it would consider the pub/restaurant/event companyturned-food-producer-or-retailer as a new membership type. We are now very familiar with the need to do what it takes for business survival and our cousins in hospitality had need more than any. Therefore, the Guild is attracting interest from a novel breed of maker and retailer. The redundant local landlord has popped on a different apron to become the local shopkeeper during lockdown too. This shift from foodservice to retail has seen a surge in food-togo entries in Great Taste. Sausage rolls, pork pies and salads are all emanating from commercial kitchens and looking for those all-important stars. And that sounds alarm bells. We’re going to have to be on our collective games as Natasha’s Law kicks in on 1st October (see page 5). Those makers

The Word on Westminster By Edward Woodall ACS

ELECTIONS ACROSS THE UK have given everyone much food for thought about the realignment of British politics. The Conservatives have dominated elections of English councils, Police & Crime Commissioners and the Hartlepool by-election. What is surprising is that the extraordinary events of the last 15 months have not dented the public’s confidence in Boris Johnson’s government. The challenges of slow lockdowns and PPE supply issues were forgotten, and the vaccine programme was rightly acknowledged for its successful and speedy rollout. For the Labour party, the return to government looks challenging. They seem to have an impossible

task of trying to win back seats in Scotland and their voter base in England is divided between affluent metropolitan voters and their traditional base in the North. Meanwhile, in Scotland, the results show a division in the electorate about Scottish Independence giving the SNP grounds to make the case for Westminster to offer another Scottish referendum and if that fails, perhaps a legal challenge in the Supreme Court opening a new constitutional debate on sovereignty. For the time being, the Conservatives are emboldened by the results and moving forward with a new legislative agenda set in the Queen’s Speech. Levelling up, sustainability, law & order and public health were common themes in the new programme. The Government also reinforced commitments to tackle obesity

and sellers have got to understand their labelling and packaging obligations which are fundamentally different to the eat-in environment.

The local landlord has popped on a different apron to become the local shopkeeper Will our new mates still be with us in 12 months? The ‘deli-lite’ in your boozer may become a fixture and they could qualify to join us. There’s also a chance that as soon as events fire up and staycations kick in, they will need to revert to type and will forget supplying or running shops. And that’s our dilemma: are they in it long term? And the conclusion to our membership meetings: embrace and foster – more deli doors open to a different tranche of food lover and it may inject some different and welcome thinking. with mandatory food labelling for the hospitality sector, proposals to deliver a complete ban on online ‘junk food’ advertising and restricting the promotion of highfat, salt and sugar products by price and location in retail settings. It seems remarkable that a Conservative Government would seek to support such interventions that both place huge burdens on business and undercut a key Conservative principle that the individual knows best. But as the elections have shown, politics is changing and so too has this Government’s appetite to reach for regulatory measures to address public health concerns. With the Health and Care Bill set to be introduced in this parliament you can rest assured that this is only the start of the actions the Government will take on obesity. Edward Woodall is head of policy & public affairs at small shops group ACS

Additional judging days released As the fifth judging week of Great Taste 2021 comes to an end, the halfway mark in this year’s process grows nearer. There are however several judging slots remaining that have yet to be booked, so any judges that haven’t signed up for dates or if you would like to join us again, please do so by logging in to your MyGuild portal and booking your chosen dates.

Survey results The Guild would like to thank all those who answered our SME Food & Drink Sector: The State of Our Market survey back in March – look out for the results and findings in a future issue of FFD. The Guild will be hosting some disruptor talks around its findings in Harrogate at Fine Food Show North, so put 17th & 18th October in your diaries and look out for more info in the theatre line-up for the show.

Competition win Congratulations to The Henley Larder in Henley-onThames which won The Guild's Great Taste retail promotion competition. The retailer was judged to have put on the best Great Taste display and, as a result, won the services of professional photographer Andrew Conway, who took a raft of promotional shots for the popular deli.

The Guild of Fine Food represents fine food shops and specialist suppliers. Want to join them? GENERAL ENQUIRIES Guild of Fine Food Guild House, 23b Kingsmead Business Park, Shaftesbury Road, Gillingham, Dorset SP8 5FB UK Tel: +44 (0) 1747 825200 Fax: +44 (0) 1747 824065

THE GUILD TEAM: Managing director: John Farrand Marketing director: Tortie Farrand Sales director: Sally Coley Operations director: Christabel Cairns

Sales manager: Ruth Debnam Sales executives: Becky Haskett Sam Coleman Membership, circulation & awards manager: Karen Price Operations manager: Claire Powell

Operations assistant: Meredith White Events manager: Stephanie HareWinton Events assistant: Sophie Brentnall Financial controller: Stephen Guppy Accounts manager: Denise Ballance Accounts assistant: Julie Coates Chairman: Bob Farrand Director: Linda Farrand

Vol.22 Issue 5 | June 2021


Voted Best Supplier of Pickles & Chutneys every year since Best Brands* began in 2011

100% Green electricity

Natural ingredients

Vol.22 Issue 5 | June 2021


Profile for Guild of Fine Food

FFD June 2021  

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