FFD May 2024

Page 1

Something’s brewing

Improve your hot drink offer and more with our annual round-up of deli-café staples


The Passage Pantry Importers facing unexpected Brexit charges British Cheese Awards

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The Kitchen @25, in

I don’t think it would be controversial for me to say Brexit’s not really worked out

Nothing’s ever straightforward these days, is it?

That thought crossed my mind more than once while I was I under the stairs prodding at a radiator manifold (no I didn’t know what one was, either), trying to find a mystery leak in my central heating system that has confounded me for months.

The same feeling struck me as I searched the internet for a supposedly minor car part after a little prang the other day. Why couldn’t I buy that bit without buying half a wing of the vehicle?

And when I emerged from the darkness under the stairs, I was soon looking skyward again. The cordless drill I needed to put up a shelf was out of battery (it always needs charging).

But enough about my weekend. Surely, work will feel less ‘futile’.

Well, it depends on your interpretation of the word. Hopefully, long-time readers will

feel that I’ve remained relatively neutral on Brexit but I don’t think it would be controversial for me to say it’s not really worked out.

There’s evidence to back this up in almost every issue of this magazine and this edition is no exception. Although it is ultimately a positive story, have a read of our chat with the founder of Cocktails & Caviar (page 43), especially the bit about her customs nightmare.

Then, there’s the big one. The ever-rumbling Brexit-imposed import checks are finally coming in – with an additional unexpected charge (page 13). £145 per shipment may not seem like much to the big boys but specialist importers of cheese and charcuterie are going to have to put up their prices. So will retailers, and that won’t help with consumer perceptions about “expensive” independents.

And you know Brexit must be a bad thing, if it has managed to bother the Italians. Their national


Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox, deputy

papers have been lamenting the end of migratory waiters (once a fixture of dining in London) thanks to the Government’s minimum wage hike for skilled worker visas to £38,700.

My feeling was that other postBrexit immigration policies had already halted the stream of young Italians to the UK. So, I went online to research whether a waiter was even classed as a ‘skilled worker’ and what other visa hoops there were to jump through. Frankly, 30 minutes of gov.uk had me longing to be back looking for car parts. So, if nothing is straightforward then maybe we need to make it straightforward. At a recent industry discussion I attended, all of the participants said priority of the next Government should be revisiting all of the measures brought in due to Brexit. As daunting as that sounds, could it be any worse than it is now?

Right, I’m off to find that charger for my drill.

I remember the first time I tried Gomashio. Growing up, my best friend’s dad was both a conscious eater, and an avid one (he is French, after all) and he used to sprinkle it over his soups and salads. As any normal child, I favoured anything which would mask the flavour of those things, so I joined him. As my soup disappeared under a layer of it, I realised he was right: the nutty, savoury condiment of lightly toasted, crushed and salted sesame seeds does basically make everything better, so imagine my delight when Clearsprings introduced its own white and black sesame versions. More on p.44

Vol.25 Issue 4 | May 2024 3 WELCOME
editor editorial@gff.co.uk Editor: Michael Lane
editor: Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox Art director: Mark Windsor
Claire Bullen, Nick Baines, Nick Hook, Patrick McGuigan, Greg Pitcher, Lynda Searby, Cover photo: Sergey N (Unsplash)
Jenny Homeshaw Clearspring Organic Gomashio, Whole & Black Sesame with Sea Salt CONTENTS 4 NEWS Easter trading, Government labelling consultation, rain impacting supply and pricing 9 VIEWPOINTS
opportunities@gff.co.uk Sales director: Sally Coley Senior
account managers:
Devon, the value of a deli, loyalty scheme 13 CHEESEWIRE Brexit import charges, The Buffalo Farm prevails 21 BRITISH CHEESE AWARDS 27 DRINKS Momo Kombucha, plus new launches 30 CAFÉ SPECIAL Chocolate & Confectionery, Biscuits, Tea and Coffee 39 FOODSERVICE Asparagus, prosciutto & goats’ cheese tarte fine 43 MEET THE PRODUCER Caviar & Cocktails 44 PRODUCTS & MERCHANDISING 50 DELI OF THE MONTH The Passage Pantry 55 ADVICE Accounts assistant: Julie Coates Financial controller: Stephen Guppy Finance director: Ashley Warden support@gff.co.uk Managing director: John Farrand Special projects director: Tortie Farrand Operations & marketing director: Christabel Cairns Marketing & PR officer: Jenna Morice Data strategy & insight manager: Lindsay Farrar Engagement & sales support assistant: Nick Rose Operations manager: Claire Powell Operations coordinators: Chris Farrand, Sepi Rowshanaei Operations & events coordinator: Zara Williams Customer services assistant: Chloë Warren-Wood Chairman: Bob Farrand Published by The Guild of Fine Food Ltd Fine Food Digest is published 11 times a year and is available on subscription for £50 p.a. inc P&P. © The Guild of Fine Food Ltd 2024. Reproduction of whole or part of this magazine without the publisher’s prior permission is prohibited. The opinions expressed in articles and advertisements are not necessarily those of the editor or publisher. Printed by Blackmore, Dorset gff.co.uk +44 (0)1747 825200 Guild House, 23b Kingsmead Business Park Gillingham, Dorset SP8 5FB United Kingdom

Strong Easter for retail despite bad weather

Independent food retailers enjoyed a trading boost from the early Easter weekend but were desperately hoping for better weather to maintain momentum.

The first three days of the bank holiday weekend fell in March this year, with schools in some parts of the UK having the previous week off.

Jennie Allen, owner of West London deli chain Bayley & Sage, said the early festivities created a rush of custom and higher takings than the prior year.

“Everyone had a panic when they realised it was Easter weekend and the clocks were changing,” she said. “Everyone was desperate for eggs and flowers. We sold lots of little chocolate chicks and artisan things.”

Allen said a reported cocoa shortage had not yet fed through to her in higher prices, meaning the trio of chocolate-heavy spring events, including

Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day, had passed without impact.

“We would love an extended summer,” she added. “But like all smaller stores, we are weather dependent. When the sun comes out people flock to you; when it’s wet they find something from the cupboard or freezer.”

Rob Copley, co-founder of Farmer Copleys, said sales had increased by up to a fifth at the Yorkshire food complex compared to last Easter.

“The butchers is doing amazingly well,” he told FFD. “It is way up. The cafe is also good, ambient goods are doing well, deli products are up on last year.”

Although inflation has softened this year, prices are still at historic highs, which can be to the advantage of food purveyors, Copley believes.

“People are treating themselves to simple things, not buying big ticket items so enjoying

Ocado’s ongoing challenges could present an opportunity for independent grocers to move into deliveries, an expert has suggested.

The online food giant has seen its share price plummet from 2,817p in 2020 to 976p last July and just 358p on 22nd April.

A row is ongoing between Ocado Group and Marks and Spencer over the amount remaining to be paid by the upmarket


“It needs to stop raining. We have mud left on the ground since the pumpkins were picked, we haven’t been able to get to it. It is the wettest I’ve ever known it.”

Steven Salamon, owner of Wally’s Delicatessen and Kaffeehaus in Cardiff, said the damp holiday period meant the end of

March “was not as buzzy as previous Easters”. Imported Italian produce including specialised chocolate eggs and colomba cakes sold well, he added, but tourist trade was down.

“Cocoa prices will affect us going forward,” warned Salamon. “Loose chocolates have gone up £3 per kilo, or 10-12% But some of these lines are so specialist, people will pay the extra.”


The UK’s deposit return scheme won’t start operating until at least 2027, following yet another delay. The recycling scheme will see consumers pay an upfront cost for single use bottles, and refunded when they return them.

Inflation has fallen to its lowest level since November 2021, driven largely by slowing food price rises. According to the ONS, prices rose by 3.2% in the year to March 2024, down from 3.4% the month before.

The Milking Goat Association is celebrating the UK’s first Goats’ Milk Appreciation Week (20th -26th May) with a series of events dedicated to encouraging consumers to enjoy goats’ milk products, from cheese to butter and yoghurt. milkinggoat.org.uk

bricks-and-mortar supermarket for its 50% share in Ocado Retail.

Analysts have suggested Ocado Group could exit the London Stock Exchange and list in New York instead..

Sarah Montano, professor of retail marketing at the University of Birmingham, said that despite Ocado only serving about one in 50 UK grocery buyers, it remains a “much loved brand of Middle


“Particularly as the market share is relatively small, if Ocado were to leave the UK, this would give small online retailers a good opportunity,” she said.

Independents should think about winning the wallets of customers, but first target their hearts and minds, she added.

“Emotional attachment to a brand is an important consideration for customers.

“But any independent retailer that could offer a new and easier way to shop could do well in future years. A company that makes routine shopping easier, quicker and simpler could take Ocado’s share if it were to leave the market.”

Ocado Group was contacted for comment.

PM pledges fund to boost SMEs and female-led businesses

Rishi Sunak has set out measures to help small businesses, make it easier to hire apprentices and get cash to firms run by women. The PM announced a number of policies at a conference in March, setting out that the government will now pay the full cost of small businesses training apprentices up to the age of 21. Plus, the amount of unused grant that employers paying the apprenticeship levy can pass on to other businesses for skills costs has been increased from 25 to 50%. More than 500 firms including Asda, and BT have pledged to transfer in excess of £35 million in this way.

Sunak also announced moves to simplify reporting processes for small businesses and loosen the criteria that allows firms to class themselves as SMEs and thus avoid certain requirements, claiming the changes will deliver £150 million and a million hours of savings.

Meanwhile, an Invest in Women Taskforce has been set up to unlock private investment in female-led businesses. Sunak said: “Taken together, these measures will unlock a tidal wave of opportunity and make a real difference to businesses and entrepreneurs across the country.”

CYBER CRIME 4 NEWS May 2024 | Vol.25 Issue 4
An early Easter on 31st March created a rush for some retailers Easter at home or coming to the café.” echoed Allen’s plea for sunshine.

Calls for stricter food labelling rules following Government consultation

Fine food firms have welcomed plans to tighten labelling requirements for certain produce – but called for a much broader overhaul of packaging rules.

An eight-week Government consultation closing on 7th May proposes a series of measures designed to improve consumer understanding of the journey and production of certain food items.

Respondents to the Fairer Food Labelling Consultation were asked whether there should be mandatory origin information on packaging, if flags should be required, and whether websites and cafés hould have to display these details.

Meanwhile a five-tier label covering production systems for pork, chicken and eggs was proposed.

The consultation says “prepared meals that may

contain more than one animal product would be more difficult to label than less processed products”.

A such, the Government proposes limiting the scope of the mandatory labelling initiative to unprocessed and “minimally processed” items.

Farm Retail Association chair Emma Mosey said the plan “doesn’t go far enough”.

“It is important to farm shops and farmers markets that their sale of UK and local produce is highlighted and that larger retailers are held to account if they are importing cheaper goods from overseas and not labelling them as such,” she added. “The same is true for the production method and animal welfare standards.

“The Government is only consulting on labelling on the origin of foods, and the production of a small number of animal products.”

Laura Roberts, owner of Laura’s Larder in Kent, expressed disbelief that

Shoplifting rise addressed by Retail Crime Action Plan

A fresh government crackdown on retail crime includes moves to make it easier for small shops to report the activity.

Ministers said a pilot initiative would use technology designed to help independents who struggle with the time and resources to notify police of incidents.

Meanwhile, new laws will make assaulting a shop worker a standalone criminal offence, carrying up to six months in jail.

This would typically see offenders banned from specific premises on conviction, and electronically tagged after their third sentence.

The Retail Crime

Action Plan also includes a pilot of monitoring criminals through curfews and exclusion zones alongside rehabilitation and community sentences.

Technology will also be used to prevent crime through facial recognition, under the proposals, while insurers will be encouraged to innovate to tackle the activity.

A survey conducted by BIRA in March found that more than a third of respondents had experienced verbal abuse within their shop. Almost one in 12 shopkeepers had experienced physical abuse including threats with weapons

more heavily processed foods were left out of the labelling proposals.

“It feels like they are targeting those who care most and can afford it least. Mandatory labelling requirements will be expensive, could put people out of business and will affect retailers by increasing time to market and cost.

“This is a missed opportunity to force the larger companies to operate for people’s health rather than profit.”

John Farrand, managing director at the Guild of Fine Food, said the consultation

“stopped short” of truly informing the consumer about production methods.

“The story and personality of food and drink has long been onpack in the specialty sector,” he added. “Structured in the correct way, these latest proposals could go some way to help differentiate mass-production from artisan produce.”

Farrand said the Guild had “long-promoted” transparency on menus, which could “encourage trade between local retailers and foodservice establishments”.

Soil Association joins public procurement overhaul

Farming portal Soil Association Exchange has pledged to open the door to smaller producers through its new public procurement role.

The organisation said it will deliver “environmental measures” through the Crown Commercial Service’s £100 million Buying Better Food and Drink agreement.

Sodexo firm Entegra earlier this year won the deal to provide the singleaccess platform for public sector bodies to purchase edible items.

Soil Association Exchange said the set-up would include using its assessments for sustainability metrics. These measure the environmental



“The quality and provenance of ingredients used by chefs has long been hidden from the punter, with the producer’s name not even given a mention, let alone the origin and quality of the ingredients. Most producers at the deli end of food and drink have always been honest and transparent.”

impact of farm operations by assessing six key areas – soil, water, carbon, animal welfare, social impacts and biodiversity.

Soil Association

Exchange chief executive Joseph Gridley said: “With our farm-level sustainability data and new technology from Equilibrium Markets designed with small businesses in mind, we hope we will soon see a much wider variety of producers accessing this important market.”

“There is a definite need for a clear labelling scheme. Ideally, it would wrap up sustainability, origin, welfare and everything else. Some companies are trying to create this – giving products marks out of 100 for example – but it needs a major supermarket to embrace it or some legislation to enforce it.”

“The UK has the world’s highest animal welfare standards, and it’s important that we don’t dilute these by importing cheaper alternatives. It is a matter of food security – the consumer needs to have the knowledge to ensure the future of agriculture in the UK and improve our sustainability by not transporting food huge distances.”

5 May 2024 | Vol.25 Issue 4
JOHN FARRAND, GUILD OF FINE FOOD PAUL HARGREAVES, COTSWOLD FAYRE EMMA MOSEY, FARM RETAIL ASSOCIATION The Government’s Fairer Food Labelling Consultation will cover what information should be included on packaging

Large volume of rain already having an impact on food supply

Multiple areas of food production – including wheat, dairy, vegetables and lamb – will be under pressure from shrinking supply and increased prices due to the persistent wet weather in the UK during the early months of 2024.

The UK’s Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) has stated that the wheat crop across the country has been hit by wet weather and that it is expecting producers and bakers to be more reliant on more costly imports than ever before.

“On top of everything that’s happened over recent years, a rise in wheat prices is the last thing that small, independent bakeries need,” said Chris Young, Real Bread Campaign coordinator. “As we head deeper into the climate crisis, things that

Brindisa reports rising turnover, falling profits

Brindisa has reported an increase in turnover, but a drop in profit in the year up to June 2023.

As reported by hospitality news outlet Propel, the wholesaler, retailer and restaurant group founded by Monika Linton said sales increased by 6.9% to £25m but that pre-tax profit fell from £851,325 to £496,494.

The company said that the year had been one of economic instability.

“Despite the pressure on our margins from the increasing cost of our supplies, the business continued to see strong levels of trade for the period with sales growth of 6.9%.”

could help to maintain food security include developing wheat populations and landraces, as well as agroecological farming systems, that will be more resilient.”

Rain has also wreaked havoc on the plans and yields of UK vegetablegrowers but farm shops that FFD spoke to were generally positive about how to cope with this.

Groombridge Farm Shop in Kent is renowned for its asparagus and its soft fruit and shop manager Samantha Green says both

its own produce and the items they buy in from New Covent Garden Market have been impacted. “We do find the prices have been higher than usual so we would expect the supply chain has been affected by the weather,” she said. “We encourage customers to eat seasonal British-grown fruit and veg as it is generally cheaper.”

At Bell’s Farm Shop in Worcestershire, planting has not gone to plan because of the weather but owner Vicki Colwill remains sanguine.


The latest from farm shops across the country

The barn area at The Goat Shed in Honingham is being given a refurb. Used in the past for Christmas markets, it is being transformed into a bigger deli area with the addition of an in-house butchery and bakery. The current shop will remain open throughout. fieldingcottage.co.uk

“What I’ve learned over the years is that you plant a load of crops and something always grows,” she told FFD. “It might not be the precise thing you want, but there’s always some food available and always an interesting product to eat. So, it’s very much about supporting the thing that’s growing well and championing that, not worrying so much about the thing that’s failed.”

Lamb has also felt the impact of the climate, with the NFU forecasting a lower survival rate.

Eleanor O’Brien of industry body National Craft Butchers said the price of lamb had been on the increase for several years but her members have told her higher volumes of cold, wet weather pushed back finishing times – meaning there was less true spring lamb on the market and more hogget-aged meat.

The ADHB is also expecting cows’ milk production to decrease as a result of less pasture grazing and decline in silage quality further down the line.


Speciality food and drink wholesaler Cotswold Fayre has recertified as a B Corp with a high score of 117.8, ten points higher than its previous certification in 2020. Meanwhile, Somerset’s gift packaging & retail display supplier, Gadsby, certified for the first time with a score of 93.4.

The Labour Party has announced its plans for high streets should it come into power later this year. They would include replacing business rates with a new system of business property taxation “which rebalances the burden and levels the playing field”. It is thought that this will enable businesses to invest more money back into their communities, instead of on bills.

Having closed its doors last November, Dews Meadow Farm Shop in East Hanney took its free-range lamb, beef, pork and eggs out to the local farmers’ markets in Wantage, Abingdon and Reading. A self-service shop has now re-opened, seven days a week, at Dews Meadow. dewsmeadowfarm.com

A new farm shop is opening on the High Street in Tarporley, Cheshire. Hollies Farm Shop already runs two farm shops in Little Budworth and Lower Stretton but will return to the high street at the end of April, selling deli items, baked goods, fresh produce and coffee. theholliesfarmshop.co.uk

Golden Valley Farm Shop and Café in South Gloucestershire has been granted a licence to sell alcohol and play live music outdoors until 11pm after the owners denied what it says were “lies and rumours” claiming that it would hold raves and become a “miniGlastonbury”. Owner Charlotte House said that the plan was for the venue to become a community hub, holding events like pottery classes, flower arranging, and private parties. She said the shop would not extend its current hours of 9am to 4pm. instagram.com/ gvfarmshop

After a fire causing extensive smoke damage, The Country Kitchen Café and Farm Shop at Winkhill in Staffordshire has reopened. Popular with visitors of Alton Towers or tourists on their way to the Peak District, the shop is back in business seven days a week, from 8.30am to 4.30pm. the-cottagekitchen. co.uk

6 CYBER CRIME NEWS May 2024 | Vol.25 Issue 4
Wheat is one of several areas of production hit by the rain Nick Fewings / Unsplash
In association with Fabulous Farm Shops fabulousfarmshops.co.uk

the guide to biscuits past and present

Biscuits were invented to be dunked in wine, and although Miller’s Baker & Barista are created with coffee in mind, their flavour is intoxicating and will leave you hoping to see double.

Ship biscuits were used as postcards from sailors. Remove the arduous journey and let Miller’s Miss American Pie transport you stateside. Say bonvoyage to that sinking feeling for this all-butter beauty will really float your boat.


The world’s biggest biscuit was over 100 feet wide, and, whilst Miller’s Great British Desserts may only measure one inch, what they lack in width is made up for in flavour. Size doesn’t matter. After all, it’s what you do with it that counts!

A bear made the headlines for breaking into a bakery and eating all the biscuits. You’ll find that with Miller’s My Favourite Bear stocked in your pantry, they’ll attract a similar amount of exposure. Their draw will have you repeat offending, time and time again.

Biscuits fuelled expeditions. Thanks to Miller’s Elegant & English the search is now over. Pair alongside a welldeserved cup of tea as you savour every bite, but be sure to clear your diary as you “may be some time”.

With biscuits now being produced on 3D printers, you can rest assured that Miller’s Two By Two are still made traditionally but their layers of flavour take them to a new dimension.

Over 100 Years Of History In The Baking

May 2024 | Vol.25 Issue 4 8 Original Biltong Signature Biltong Bloody Mary Bites www.biltongemporium.com Creators of quality handcrafted Biltong in a variety of delicious flavours Welsh Lady Plum Chutney. Made to the same recipe for decades – no artificial colouring or preservatives. Slightly spicy ~ so fruity ~ simply perfect. Please contact sales@welshladypreserves.com Tel: 01766810496 Welsh Lady Est 1966 @welshladypreserves /welshladypreserves Chocolate Oaties Part of the Hebridean Baker biscuit range www.stagbakeries.co.uk


Prior to running the deli I worked for a private ambulance company for 10 years. The decision to change career was a ‘middle of the night’ moment. I completed on the lease in April 2019, taking over from a couple who were ready to retire. The customer demographic was older, so to begin with I had to work on attracting a younger audience by making it ‘cool’ and establishing a social media presence. I also modernised the range, building it around products from Devon and Cornwall. The deli was famous for its quiche, pâté and hummus. I continued with those, sticking to the original recipes, and kept on the original staff.

Under the previous owners, the bistro was a tiny proportion of the business, with retail accounting for 90% of turnover. I was dead set on keeping the retail emphasis but, nine months in, the pandemic changed this. I started selling takeaway breakfast baps which proved really popular and it grew from there. Now, turnover is split 40:40:20 across retail, bistro and takeout.

I have also learned that December is our best month by a mile; sales generated in the run-up to Christmas effectively keep the deli afloat during January, February and March. Sales then build from April through the summer; before dropping off in September. I am working on a model that better addresses these troughs through outside catering. I have also purchased a second business – The Original Pasty House with shops in Tavistock and Plymouth – which helps with stability and profitability.

My two businesses are at opposite ends of the scale but, because of this, they complement each other. The Kitchen @25 is all about providing an exceptional customer experience around good food, whereas The Original Pasty House is more of an affordable, convenient, mass-market proposition. At one point I worked out a portion price for selling our quiches through The Original Pasty House but quickly abandoned the idea because it was prohibitively high for that customer base.

That said, there are some synergies between the two businesses; they share some of the same suppliers, and we sell pasties from The Original Pasty House through The Kitchen. We have plans for a joint presence at country fairs and festivals this summer – we already have a mobile deli for The Kitchen and have just bought a catering trailer for The Original Pasty House.

Our next focus is to increase exposure for both brands at events across the South West this summer, and after that, maybe look at a second site for The Kitchen.

9 May 2024 | Vol.25 Issue 4 VIEWPOINTS
Photography Nick Hook

GREAT TASTE WAS launched in 1994. An industry-initiative established to support a thenstruggling artisan food & drink network. The consumer was obsessed by supermarkets, and we’d forgotten how much food should cost to protect quality – and to protect the livelihood of those who made it.

Yes, it was the brainchild of our Chairman, Bob Farrand, with support from Food from Britain and it continues today, run by the hardworking team at the Guild. But I don’t truly believe that we own the badge, the logo, or the label that states Great Taste. It still feels like retailers, wholesalers


World Cheese Awards

2024 will take place in Viseu, Portugal from 14th –17th November. Entry to the awards will open on Thursday 13th June and close on Monday 16th September.  For more information, visit  gff.co.uk/worldcheese


For retailers with a cheese counter, our interactive Retail Cheese courses are taking place in London, Yorkshire and Dorset throughout the year. Book your place today: gff.co.uk/training

View from HQ

FFD’s publisher and Guild of Fine Food managing director John Farrand has his say

and, of course, producers do. It’s a worthy mechanism that involves the entire food & drink industry to ensure that the consumer is more informed when grocery shopping, being directed to products made with simpler ingredients that have the added bonus of tasting great. There’s a good deal behind that gold & black moniker.

I still occasionally watch BBC’s Dragon’s Den. They mine our winners’ data and visit our Great Taste Markets to poach financehungry producers and so I call it work-related research. There’s our logo on a jar or packet every other week. But is that because more makers now bother to make better quality food and drink than they did 30 years ago? It should be a shared achievement and celebration that we are now a serious culinary country, respected by our neighbours, for making top-notch cheese, coffee, beer, preserves and so on.

There wasn’t an awful lot of celebration on last night’s edition from the fiery investors. A Viking reenactment enthusiast had decided

that mead was the next big thing (he might be right) but got hammered for his branding and labelling. He’d brutally over-valued his business and where were his customers?

I can’t imagine some axewielding weekenders would provide the ‘scale’ the Dragons insist on. But there was something charming and honest about it. It told a story, and it had personality.

Defra are asking us about what should be on a label and how it can help the consumer make a more

I can’t imagine some axe-wielding weekenders would provide the ‘scale’ the Dragons insist on.

ethical buying decision. The Fairer Food Labelling consultation runs until 7th May, and I implore you to submit your deli and farm shop perspectives.

It concerns itself with what should be declared on label and, at first glance, there is a danger that over-processed foods will dodge the declaration bullet, with simpler ingredients listings having to be more transparent (read more on page 5). That said, the ‘method of production’ criteria may be our chance to truly help the consumer.

Why not state volume or output per day, week, or month, or declare where and how the raw ingredients are sourced? Food and drink with a real story and provenance, made in smaller batches, could have their chance to say so, exposing the faux farms and over-styled contract packers.

Have your say, on the website (consult.defra.gov.uk/), or send me an email.

Labels can be a congested place, just make sure you make some room for a Great Taste logo.

The Word on Westminster

THE GOVERNMENT HAS announced plans to make it a standalone offence to assault a retail worker, as well as to invest in facial recognition to spot offenders, and electronic tagging for prolific shop thieves.

This is a big step forward and a big campaign win for our sector. The changes will send a message that shop theft and abuse are going to be taken seriously. It also demonstrates that crime and disorder will be a defining issue in the forthcoming General Election campaign.

We, along with other associations and retailers, have been calling for more action to support shopworkers for several years, so while it’s taken a long time to get to where we are, it is encouraging to see progress.

The Labour Party has also

campaigned for more protection for shopworkers, so it’s not something we would expect to be dropped after a change of Government. If anything, a future Labour administration may look to go further, with a commitment to deliver town centre police patrols to tackle anti-social behaviour.

A new offence builds on guidance for judges when sentencing, making attacking a shopworker an aggravating factor in the seriousness of what is handed out.

The problem with this is that because it’s part of a judge’s considerations, it’s difficult to track how effective it is and how it’s being applied. What is also positive about the proposal is the use of exclusion orders to stop offenders from visiting shops and, for the most persistent violent offenders, the use of electronic tagging.

This debate is playing out now because across England and

Wales we are electing Police and Crime Commissioners, who set police budgets and priorities. So while it’s excellent that the main political parties are implementing new measures to protect shopworkers, we also need them to step up too.

If you are planning on voting in the local elections, remember to check what your local candidates are planning to do to tackle over 76,000 violent incidents in small grocery stores across the country. We need all Police and Crime Commissioners to make a commitment that when violence is used in a retail setting, police will attend.

If they don’t, the new standalone offence won’t have an impact and prolific violent offenders will continue to target retail businesses unchecked.

Edward Woodall is government relations director at the ACS edward.woodall@acs.org.uk

10 May 2024 | Vol.25 Issue 4



MY IMMINENT RETIREMENT from this column (don’t worry there’s one more to go after this) has made me reflect on what it would be like to retire from my shop.

I am too old to have another career, so it’s not going to happen soon. Plus, I need the money. I do have a pension, some savings and not much of a mortgage. On the flipside, there is the cost-of-living crisis, my children and an expensive cheese & wine habit to cover.

Exiting a shop like mine with enough cash for the future is hard. So, here are my thoughts on valuing a retail business and the four things people might pay for.

The first is valuable profits. If my profits are £30k now, I might get two to three times multiple, so £60-£90k. The difficulty is that calculating net profits is a bit of accountancy black magic. You should really deduct a salary for a notional manager who would “do my job”. The profits should

Retail eye

be investment profits, not just someone buying themselves a salary. If you don’t understand what I’ve just said, ask your accountant before assuming your shop will line your retirement nest in gold.

The next thing to consider is assets you can sell: a lease, some fridges and stock. These rarely add up to much – unless you own the building. Don’t forget, you will have creditors to pay.

People will also buy potential.

Every deli owner has a massively optimistic opinion of the value of their business.

While Christmas seems a distant memory it was only 108 days ago at time of writing. I love that time of year, as it always puts a magnifying glass on your own business. What is going well, and not so well, really does shows itself. Fortunately, Flourish had a great Christmas, attracting many new customers from further afield.

Having new customers gave us some great insights and it was refreshing to hear the team singing the benefits of our reward scheme, resulting in hundreds of new sign-ups and increased sales.

One thing I have discovered about reward schemes over the last 12 months is that staff have got to be advocates. If those savings and benefits float their boat, then they will shout it from the rooftops to every customer.

What we have learned is that playing around with a few offers and some small discounts doesn’t work; the rewards have had to be meaningful. ‘Spend X and save 10%, spend Y and save 20%, Spend Z and save 30%’ is a structure

Someone may want your business because they think they can turn it into something better. You need to sell what the other person wants, not what you have. That said, wouldn’t I have done it if I could?

The last thing a buyer would look for is working capital and proven business model. Buying an existing business is quick and easy, and that has value. For most delis, this is where they cash in. The new deli owner has a turn-key experience; they can literally walk in and it’s a runner from Day One. It may not convert into pots of gold and Caribbean holidays but it’s a proven sales pitch. After all, just finding a property is hard, let alone working though 18 months or more before getting into profit.

Now for the cold, hard truth. Every deli owner has a massively optimistic opinion of the value of their business. If you are selling, get real now. If you are buying don’t take anything at face value. It’s not that the owner is conning you. Just bear in mind that for them it’s like selling a child.

For the last 20 years, I’ve known that my deli won’t fetch much and have planned accordingly. But it might be just enough for me to buy a camper van with a nice cheese & wine fridge, so I can cruise off into the sunset.

that has worked on the whole. ‘Purchase any 2 or 3 items and save X’ has also hooked in the reward card holders, who now see us as even better value.

Using our suppliers Cotswold Fayre and buying into their offers and passing these savings on to our card holders has also increased sales and margin. In the past, having multiple suppliers and differing prices has made it difficult to track and manage promotions on a regular cycle.

In summary: rewards do work. If done right, they can increase frequency of visit, sales and cash margin. But they need to be really meaningful and on products people actually buy.

Changing customer behaviour takes time, requiring great marketing and communication and most of all the team buy in to what they are promoting.

Hopefully we will see some dry weather soon as we enter a busy summer period.

One thing I have discovered about reward schemes is that staff have got to be advocates.

£38,700 is the new minimum salary required to obtain a skilled worker visa in the UK. It officially increased in April from £26,000. I n d u s t r y representative UK Hospitality claims this is part of an immigration policy that is putting off EU workers from filling much needed roles.

Source: gov.uk


Whether it’s staff training, business advice, event space, making industry connections or opportunities to meet trade buyers and food lovers, the Guild of Fine Food does far more than publish FFD. The Guild has been championing independent food & drink for over 30 years. Join us today and find out what we can do for your business.

Support & ideas: support@gff.co.uk

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11 VIEWPOINTS May 2024 | Vol.25 Issue 4
May 2024 | Vol.25 Issue 4 12 Tel: 01282 440040 info@riggsautopack.co.uk www.riggsautopack.co.uk Manufacturers of depositors & filling machines for the food production industry

Hastily announced extra Brexit charges will hit independents

The price of cheese from the EU is set to rise yet again after the Government announced hefty charges to pay for postBrexit customs checks, less than a month before they were introduced.

Cheese importers were wrong footed by the announcement from Defra on 3rd April that products of animal origin would be subject to a new ‘common user charge’ of up to £145 per consignment from 30th April, when physical customs checks were finally introduced. The charge follows other post-Brexit controls, including health certificates for raw milk cheeses and charcuterie, introduced on 31st January.

The common user charge is tiered with ‘low risk’ foods, such as pasteurised cheeses, facing a maximum fee per consignment of £50, while ‘medium risk’ raw milk cheeses and charcuterie are capped at £145. Most mixed pallets will be subject to the higher charge, said importers, and the extra costs will be passed on to retailers and shoppers. This comes after a 20% retail price increase on Continental cheeses last year, according to Kantar, driven by big rises in feed, labour and energy costs.

At London’s Buchanans Cheesemonger, owner Rhuaridh Buchanan said typical freight costs for a pallet of cheese from France were €190 (roughly £165).

“So, this new charge almost


Kent-based Blackwoods Cheese Company, which makes the marinated Graceburn, has launched a new soft, washed rind cheese called Hever, which is inspired by Epoisses.

Mousetrap Cheese has closed its shop in Leominster, Herefordshire, after more than 35 years of trading due to the cost-of-living crisis, rises in energy costs and declining footfall in the town caused by council car park charges. Its shops in Hereford and Ludlow, and online business, continue to trade.

Global sales of Parmigiano Reggiano grew by 8.4% to break the €3bn mark in 2023, according to the Consortium that oversees its PDO status.

doubles the cost overnight,” he said. “My freight costs to get cheese from the EU are only about 42p a kilo. But when you add on all the charges and bureaucracy that have come in after Brexit that figure is more like £1.30 per kilo.”

He said the new charges came as a “total shock” and had been announced far too late. “We can’t just put up our prices overnight. We had just communicated that we were adjusting prices to account for the new health certificate requirements, when these new charges landed in our laps.”

At The Fine Cheese Co, which supplies 1,200 independent retailers, purchasing manager Ben Robinson said: “The most infuriating part is that the new charges are targeted at the independent sector. The multiple retailers will easily absorb the extra cost. Our costs per shipment for raw milk cheese and charcuterie could be four times the pre-Brexit cost.”

Philip Crouch, owner of the Parma Ham Stand and Mozzarella Stand at Borough Market, said the new controls posed “an existential challenge to the way we do business”, estimating the extra costs would add up to £12-£20k a year, resulting in higher retail prices.

Travel company Cheese Journeys has launched a mentorship programme to connect the USA and the UK.

The three-day ‘Curd to Counter’ programme, supported by Neal’s Yard Dairy, will see US cheesemongers expand their knowledge of British cheese, farming and production by working at businesses including Westcombe, Montgomery’s (pictured), Trethowan Brothers, Fen Farm, Stichelton and Appleby’s. cheesejourneys.com/curd-to-counter


…Rutland Red

Long Clawson is best known for Stilton, but the dairy also makes the only pasteurised, vegetarian Red Leicester in Leicestershire. Rutland Red is made in 3.8kg wheels and bound in buttered cloth, before being aged for around six months. It has a dusky orange hue and flaky texture with buttery notes near the rind, plus roasted nut, savoury and caramel notes towards the centre.

Mango chutney

There’s a wonderfully fruity flavour to Rutland Red, especially near the rind, which is similar to the pear and pineapple notes you find in blue cheese. That fruitiness is given extra oomph with a spoonful of mango chutney, which also adds fragrant spice to the cheese’s savoury finish.


Move over cheddar. Red

Leicester is a just as good a friend to cider as its West Country cousin. The caramel notes in the cheese blends with the bittersweet cider to create a toffee apple experience. Curious Apple Cider from Kentbased Curious Brewing is a particularly fine match. Made with Rubens and Bramley apples and fermented with Bacchus wine yeast it brings cleansing acidity and bubbles, which stops the match becoming overly sweet.

Cheese sauce

The bright orange colour of Rutland Red, which comes from the addition of annatto, can be used to eye catching effect in everyday meals such as macaroni cheese and cauliflower cheese. Use grated Rutland Red instead of cheddar in cheese sauce and pour over pasta or cauliflower for a vivid golden appearance in the final dish. The cheese creates a more mellow, buttery flavour too.

13 CHEESE May 2024 | Vol.25 Issue 4
Each shipment of pasteurised cheeses faces a maximum fee of £50, which could rise to £145 for consignments of raw milk cheeses. Winter Caplanson Bernd Dittrich/Unsplash


The Buffalo Farm survives but original investors are left out of pocket

Fife-based mozzarella-maker

The Buffalo Farm went into administration in March, before being bought back by founder Steven Mitchell in a “pre-pack” deal that has left investors out of pocket.

Mitchell raised more than £850,000 for a new dairy via a crowdfunding scheme launched in 2019 called the Founders’ Club, which encouraged people to invest £1,000 or £10,000 with the promise of interest paid in the form of produce from the farm shop in Kircaldy.

The dairy opened in 2021, supplying buffalo mozzarella to farm shops, delis and Aldi, but Mitchell put the company into administration in March, blaming unsustainable debts caused by issues including Covid, soaring energy bills, TB and the cost-of-living crisis.

He immediately bought the business back in a prepack deal, with help from an unnamed backer, which has secured 60 jobs and the




What’s the story?

Barkham Blue was originally created by Sandy and Andy Rose of Two Hoots Cheese in Berkshire. Sandy Rose’s father had farmed Jersey and Guernsey cows for many years and, knowing how rich and creamy the milk was, she set about seeing if she could make a blue cheese from it, despite the complications that high-fat milk can bring to blue cheese production. In 2003, Barkham Blue was born and was

500-strong buffalo herd at the farm, but has left the original Founders’ Club investors empty handed, with no likelihood of their investment being refunded.

Many investors vented their anger about the deal in the press. One anonymous individual told The Scottish Farmer they had been left “high and dry”, while another told The Courier she was “disgusted” that her parents had lost their investment.

made by the Roses for over 20 years, winning many awards. Earlier this year, however, the Roses decided to hang up their cheese aprons to explore new ventures. Luckily for the cheese world, Sandy’s cousin is none other than Anne Wigmore of nearby Village Maid Cheese –which has decided to step in and take on the recipe at its own dairy.

How is it made?

Using the pasteurised milk from a local herd of Jersey and Guernsey cows and vegetarian rennet, the make for the cheese is a closely guarded secret, with cheesemakers having to adapt the recipe throughout the season as the composition of the high butterfat milk changes. The curd may be cut larger during the summer or smaller during the winter to make sure it drains

In an emotional video posted on Facebook, Mitchell said he could understand why people were “hurt and angry”.

“One of the proudest things I’ve ever achieved was creating that Founders’ Club and it absolutely does not sit comfortably with me where we are today,” he said. “I’m absolutely devastated by it. There is nobody more disappointed to have let so many people down.”



Mike Thomson, Mike’s Fancy Cheese, Belfast

Building relationships with cheesemakers is always a good idea for a retailer, but how best to do it? Mike Thomson has a better understanding than most because he is both maker and monger, sourcing cheese directly from farms across Ireland for his shop, as well as making the raw milk blue Young Buck.

“The most important thing as a retailer is to commit and say ‘we will sell your cheese, so don’t stress if it’s not always exactly how you want it’. That’s especially important when they are just starting out and cheeses can vary.”

Thomson visits his suppliers personally and is happy to give constructive advice.

“We’ve started buying a lovely soft cheese, but it blues up in the wrapping, so we’ve suggested they use a wooden box. Another cheesemaker can only supply their cheese at eight months, but our customers like it a little older, so we’re ageing it on for them.”

The support goes two ways, he adds.

“When cheeses go on to be really popular, that strong relationship means we will be first in line when it comes to who is being supplied.”


properly. Its maturation lasts for approximately five weeks, over which time the paste will soften.

Appearance & texture: Barkham Blue’s distinctive, ammonite-shaped round, is covered by a thin natural mould-ripened rustic rind and has a striking golden interior, due to the naturally-high carotene

levels found in Channel Island milk. It has a perfect balance of blue veining through the rich buttery paste, creating a smooth creamy texture with a mellow blue flavour and a subtle peppery tang.

Variations: None

Cheesemonger tip:

The cheesemakers describe the cheese as being like ‘blue butter’, so it’s delicious spread over crusty white bread with a smear of fig jam. It’s particularly good for customers that are averse to some of the more intense blues. Pair with a glass of a sweet French wine such as Sauternes or a Tawny Port.

Chef’s recommendation: Barkham Blue is beautiful crumbled into a chicory, walnut and pear salad, but also makes a deliciously rich sauce to accompany steak.

May 2024 | Vol.25 Issue 4
The Fife-based business was bought back by founder Steven Mitchell
the 200 cheeses studied as part of the Academy of Cheese Level Three Certification. For more information on this and all of their courses, head to: academyofcheese.org
Barkham Blue is one of
May 2024 | Vol.25 Issue 4 16 SHEPHERDSPURSE.CO.UK 01845 587220 FOR MORE DETAILS OR TO PLACE AN ORDER, PLEASE E-MAIL TODAY! 01333 312580 info@standrewscheese.co.uk GREAT TASTING CHEESE FROM FIFE “utterly delicious”… “very moreish cheese’’ …“deeply satisfying ’’ … “outstanding ’’ GOLD AWARD

An Emerald Isle original

Soft goats’ cheese specialist St Tola is one of the pioneers of Ireland’s artisan revival

NEVER MIND THE British cheese renaissance, Irish cheesemakers were organising their revolution long before the Brits. It was 1983 when a group of pioneering farmers, led by the indomitable Veronica Steele of Milleens in Cork, banded together to create an association to fight for good cheese in Ireland. Called Cáis (Irish for ‘cheese’), the organisation was such a good idea that the Brits followed suit six years later, setting up the Specialist Cheesemakers’ Association in 1989.

The ties between Irish and British cheese remain strong today with Gubbeen, Cashel Blue, Durrus and of course Milleens (all founding members of Cáis) familiar sights on British cheese counters.

St Tola Farmhouse Cheese in Inagh, County Clare, is another linchpin of the scene with a history stretching back to those heady early days. Set up in 1978 by Meg and Derrick Gordon, before it was taken over Siobhán Ní Gháirbhith 25 years ago, the company’s zingy, lactic goats’ logs are a reference point for restaurants and retailers across Ireland, but also at Neal’s Yard Dairy, which has been importing the cheeses for decades.

“The rise of Irish cheese came about because of Cáis, but also places like Ballymaloe cookery school in Cork and Arbutus Lodge in Galway (Ireland’s first Michelin-starred restaurants),” Ní Gháirbhith recalls on a tour of the goat shed on the 65-acre farm. “But Neal’s Yard were also there from the start. We were selling to them before we sold to a lot of places in Ireland.”

A fluent Irish speaker and proponent of Irish culture, who was brought up on the farm

in Clare, Ní Gháirbhith was first drawn to the cheese life in the 1990s when working as a primary school teacher in Galway, but became intrigued with a new shop run by Sheridans.

“We were brought up on Velveeta and laughing cow, so I was fascinated by all the different shapes and sizes,” she says. “I’m a proud Clare woman with a strong sense of where I’m from. I wanted a future for the farm and I could see the demand and potential for regional foods was growing. When Meg and Derrick, who were our neighbours in Clare, were looking to retire I could see the opportunity.”

Ní Gháirbhith is still banging the bodhrán for Irish food today as part of the organising committee of Cáis, as well as the local Burren Food Trail and Slow Food. Shortly after my visit she was recognised with a Local Food Hero award from the Restaurant Association of Ireland, while also helping to organise the Cáis Cheese Awards in Dublin.

Not that she’s resting on her laurels. The company developed a new cheese for Neal’s Yard called Karst recently (see box) and has just invested in a new vat and equipment for bag-training the delicate lactic curd. “It’s about improving the cheese and making it more consistent rather than getting bigger,” she says.

The only cloud on the horizon is new postBrexit checks and charges introduced at the end of April in the UK. It isn’t yet clear exactly how they will affect exports, but the concern is there will be hold-ups at the border – bad news for short shelf-life St Tola.

“If we lose a load, it’s £2,000 down the drain. Do we just take that hit? Or do we try to price it in to our cheese? It’s hard to know what we’ll do if it keeps happening.”

For the sake of long-standing Anglo-Irish cheese relations, let’s hope that none of this comes to pass. st-tola.ie

It’s about improving and making it more consistent rather than getting bigger


St Tola makes both pasteurised and raw milk cheeses, producing around 30 tonnes a year in total. Karst was launched in 2021 in collaboration with Neal’s Yard Dairy. The retailer and wholesaler had long stocked the large 1kg St Tola log, but wanted a smaller cheese for the counters. 1

Weighing in at around 180g, Karst is made with raw morning milk, which is acidified overnight with a little animal rennet. The exterior is ashed and the cheeses matured in special humidity- and temperature-controlled affinage cabinets for around three weeks, to encourage growth of the wrinkly Geotrichum candidum yeast on the rind.

St Tola is the name of a seventh century ‘saint of toothaches’, who has a dedicated stone cross in Clare. Legend has it that a piece of the cross can cure toothache. Karst is named after the limestone landscape in nearby Burren. The cheese has a light, mousse-like texture and fresh, lemony and Greek yoghurt flavours..

17 CHEESE May 2024 | Vol.25 Issue 4


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LONDON: 8 May, 1 July & 24 September | YORKSHIRE: 8 July | DORSET: 14 October

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Vol.25 Issue 4 | May 2024 45
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May 2024 | Vol.25 Issue 4 20
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Stepping up to the tables

The British Cheese Awards’ 28th edition took place at Somerset’s Bath & West Showground as part of a new festival. Find out who won the biggest prizes and how they were selected.

The British Cheese Awards made a big return with its 28th instalment at the Bath & West Showground in Somerset but – although there was a sizeable field of 600-plus cheese – one of the smallest entrants took the top prize.

A mould-ripened fresh cows’ milk cheese called Snowdrop, made in Lincolnshire by Cote Hill Dairy, was named the Supreme Champion, closely followed by Irish classic Cashel Blue as the Reserve Champion.

These trophies winners were announced during the British Cheese Awards Dinner on the evening of Friday 22nd March, after a day of judging that saw tables of hundreds of British and Irish cheeses tackled by a team of 63 judges.

Cheeses were awarded Bronze, Silver and Gold medals before Gold winners were then rejudged to identify category winners. These were assessed for a third time to find the top

Snowdrop is a perfect example of the innovation and excellence in cheesemaking that is thriving in Britain and Ireland right now

cheeses on the day.

Best English Cheese went to the ash-coated goats’ milk Tor from Somerset’s White Lake Cheese; Best Scottish Cheese went to the washed-rind Minger from Highland Fine Cheese and Best Welsh Cheese went to Gafr Las from Bryngaer Goats.

The biggest winner at the awards, Snowdrop, was only launched just over 12 months ago by Mary and Michael Davenport of Cote Hill Dairy. It was named in honour of Cynthia Davenport, who started the dairy at Cote Hill, because snowdrops were her favourite flower found growing around the farm.

Billed as soft, smooth and rich, this raw cows’ milk cheese is matured- and mouldripened with geotrichum candidum. It is said to be similar in style to the French cheese Saint-Félicien, with cheeses weighing in at around 90g each.

Cote Hill Dairy is well-known in the British artisan cheese scene and the Davenports have been making cheese on their farm with their own raw cows’ milk for over two decades. Their most well-known creation is Cote Hill Blue but the family also produces a washed-rind called Lindum, as well as the mild Cote Hill Yellow and alpine-style Cote Hill Red.

Julius Longman, chairman of the British Cheese Awards said: “It was fantastic to be back at the Bath & West Showground, and to have another Supreme Champion to share with the world.

“Snowdrop is a perfect example of the innovation and excellence in cheesemaking



Cote Hill Dairy

Launched just over a year ago, Snowdrop is made by Mary and Michael Davenport at Cote Hill Dairy in Lincolnshire.

The cheese was named in honour of the dairy founder Cynthia Davenport, whose favourite flowers found growing around the farm were snowdrops.

Made with raw cows’ milk cheese, Snowdrop is similar in style to a French Saint-Félicien, and will vary in flavour as pastures change from season to season.

May 2024 | Vol.25 Issue 4


that is thriving in Britain and Ireland right now, alongside our world class traditional cheeses.

“The British Cheese Awards is a wonderful coming together of the nation’s cheese community and we were delighted to welcome the public into the judging hall over the course of the new Food & Drink Festival.

achieve such a prestigious award.”

Organised by The Royal Bath & West Society, the British Cheese Awards saw a judging panel made up of cheesemakers, cheesemongers, cheese experts, buyers and commentators assessing entries in their individual classes during the morning session, awarding Bronze, Silver and Gold accolades.

Discover all the winners at britishcheeseawards. com/results

“Having showcased hundreds of diverse cheeses from across the UK and Ireland, we hope to have inspired some of the cheesemakers and mongers of tomorrow.”

Mary Davenport from Cote Hill Dairy added: “As a small producer, we are delighted and honoured to be recognised with this prestigious award. It was a huge surprise and totally unexpected as winning Supreme Champion at the British Cheese Awards is a cheesemaker’s dream. Here at Cote Hill we are amazed that such a small cheese should


New Cheese

Cote Hill Snowdrop

Cote Hill Cheese

Reserve Champion, Best Blue and Best Irish Cheese

Cashel Blue

Cashel Farmhouse Cheesemakers

Best Fresh and Best Export Cheese St.Jude

During the second round, all Gold award winners from each category were judged alongside one another to identify category winners, before these category winners were put through a final round to find this year’s Supreme Champion and Reserve Champion.

Hosted for the first time by the new Bath & West Food & Drink Festival, the Awards invited festival visitors to sample some of this year’s entries over the course of the weekend and to cast their votes in the People’s Choice Award.

Best Rind Washed Merry Wyfe of Bath The Bath Soft Cheese Company Best Scottish Cheese Minger Highland Fine Cheese Ltd

Best Organic Cheese

Lye Cross Farm Organic Mature Cheddar Alvis Bros

Best Cheese from a Member of the SCA Gorwydd Caerphilly Trethowan’s Dairy

Best Flavour-Added Wild Garlic Yarg Lynher Dairies

Best Welsh Cheese Gafr Las Bryngaer Goats

Jude Cheese Best English Cheese

Lake Cheese Best Soft White

Cheese Company

Best Traditional Cheddar Pitchfork Trethowan’s Dairy

Best PDO /PGI Cheese

WCFH Extra Mature Block Cheddar Barber’s Farmhouse Cheesemakers

Best Territorial Rutland Red Long Clawson Dairy

Best Goat Cheese Killeen Goat Mature Killeen Farmhouse

Best Modern & Best Sheep Cheese Bibury King Stone Dairy


Monk Feltham’s Farm

May 2024 | Vol.25 Issue 4
Supreme Champion and Best
Tor White
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Great things in little jars

Momo Kombucha was one of the first commercially successful fermented tea producers in the UK. Its success has been one of scaling up, fast, without compromising on the essentials.

NESTLED UNDER THE railway arches of Nine Elms, amid stacks of boxes and old brewing equipment, the Momo Kombucha team is preparing for a move.

In the past six years, the producer has grown out of husband-and-wife Lisa and Josh Puddle’s kitchen, while they still juggled careers in fashion and banking, into the low-ceiling space under the South Western Railway tracks, and, quite likely by the time you read this, into two warehouse compartments across the road.

“It’s exciting because we’re growing quickly, but I can only ever plan a year ahead,” Josh Puddle tells FFD. “Because once I’ve made the plans they’re almost too small already.”

Momo now produces 30,000 330ml bottles of organic fermented tea a week, up from 5,000 when it moved into the arches in 2019.

Yet, as we are invited to see the latest batch, we find a room full of shelves stacked to the ceiling with glass jars, which are thought to provide the optimal amount of oxygen to the SCOBY – symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast – responsible for the fermentation.

“Since Lisa and I set out to start the company, we’ve always had the same goal, to try and produce the UK’s best tasting, highest

quality kombucha, and we spoke to a lot of brewers in the States, in Europe, in the UK. The thing we kept hearing was the best they’d ever made was at home in a small glass jar. So that’s how we’re doing it.”

Only recently have they begun questioning how scalable this method of production is – not least from a health and safety perspective – and trying to think of a different way.

“We’re now trying to get more analytical over what is really crucial about the jars, and whether there’s a way that we can keep those things, but change the vessel.”

The base recipe for the kombucha remains the same, however. A blend of three types of loose leaf tea – Pu’erh, Sencha and Assam, with four flavours in the core range: Ginger & Lemon, Turmeric, Elderflower and Raspberry & Hibiscus, with the latter created in collaboration with breast cancer charity, Future Dreams.

Aside from being a creative outlet, limited edition collaborations give the brand more visibility, and help convert new customers. These include a hopped kombucha developed with local brewery, Orbit Beers, cold brew coffee kombuchas made with Caravan Coffee Roasters and Origin Coffee, a Forced Rhubarb one from fruit and veg supplier Natoora, and, most recently, a Coffee Leaf Kombucha jointly created with Headstand.

The choice of partners is no accident, as they all tap into a particular audience – healthconscious consumers looking for low sugar, alcohol-free and low-caffeine drinks.

The emerging science backing up kombucha’s positive contribution to the gut microbiome, increasingly understood to be a significant indicator of good health, recently led


Tea leaves are steeped in hot water (95°C for black tea, 85°C for green tea) for fifteen minutes in a large tank.

Raw cane sugar is added.

The starter culture, or Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeasts, known as SCOBY, is added.

The liquid is transferred into little glass jars for 7 to 14 days, until fermentation is complete.

The fermented tea is carbonated and infused with its flavours before being bottled.

27 May 2024 | Vol.25 Issue 4 DRINKS


to a surge in direct-to-consumer sales online.

“Tim Spector mentioned us on a podcast in August last year,” says Puddle, leading to a fivefold increase in sales, which levelled off at double their previous levels.

“There’s another brand, LA Brewery, who disclosed their online sales, and at exactly the same point theirs also doubled. So I think he might have doubled the kombucha category with one comment, but it was lucky for us.”

Meanwhile, the producer has been building up a credible retail base, too. It’s listed on Ocado, in Whole Foods Market, Selfridges, Planet Organic, and a host of independent shops and cafés. It also sits alongside health-driven soft drinks brands, Square Root and Daily Dose, in Gail’s’ 120-strong portfolio of bakeries nationwide.

Puddle believes that what will ensure Momo Kombucha’s longevity is an unwillingness to budge on its principles. Apart from carbonating the drinks to avoid accidental alcohol build-up,

the producer is puritanical in its approach.

Where some have chosen to use sweeteners instead of sugar, “others have become ambient. They’re either pasteurised, brewed from concentrate or super fine filtered.”

“I can see why they’ve done that, but now there’s actually not that many brands who are competing in the more authentic end of the market.”

There’s room to grow, too, as more and more people in the UK are still discovering the kombucha category altogether, compared with mature markets in the USA and Australia.

“I think it’s going to take a bit longer here, but even if it grows at 25% a year, as that compounds over the next 10-15 years, I’m convinced it’ll be a big category.”

The producer’s biggest challenge is to scale up production without losing what it stands for. From a team of two it now counts 15 –eight in production, four in operations, three looking after sales and marketing.


Momo is actually named after my wife’s favourite

children’s book

Whatever changes it makes, however it grows, the producer is set on doing things the right way. It is Soil Association certified and became a B Corp in 2022, and Puddle is adamant that remaining true to these values will remain a focus for the brand.

“You can lose the heart and soul of it a bit. Having said that, I’m also quite jealous of the outcome,” he says, as working the way they do comes with its own downsides.

“All the headaches. Here I can think, ‘right this is on my to-do list’ and then Monday afternoon the chiller breaks and I’m spending the next two days trying to get emergency parts.”

“We need to grow up and professionalise in a way”, he adds, “and we need to try and move away from being so hand to mouth.”

If ever in doubt, perhaps it is worth remembering why the company is called what it is.

“It’s actually named after my wife’s favourite children’s book, Momo by Michael Ende.

“Momo is a homeless child who brings the village together and reminds the adults in the village what’s important in life - things like curiosity and playing and telling stories, whereas the adults in the village are being taken over by the men in grey suits, giving their lives away by working too much.”

And while it’s not all fun and games to make tens of thousands of litres of kombucha a week, there isn’t a man in a grey suit in sight. momo-kombucha.com

Wales’ Velfrey Vineyard has been granted Protected Geographical Indication status for two of its sparkling brut wines. The Pembrokeshire producer’s NV Traditional Method Sparkling Brut (RRP £35) and Rhosyn 2021 Traditional Sparkling Brut Rosé (RRP £42) are made with Pinot Noir and Seyval Blanc, a hybrid grape variety widely used in English and Welsh winemaking, then aged on lees for 18 months. velfreyvineyard.com

Alcohol-free wine producer Wednesday’s Domaine has introduced two sparkling drinks. Éclat is a Verdejo-based sparkling white, which is said to bear notes of citrus elderflower and ginger. Cuvée is a sparkling rosé made with Airen and Tempranillo-based sparkling rosé. The producer uses spinning cone technology to de-alcoolise its wines, which extracts alcohol while the liquid is steam distilled at a low-temperature. The producer then adds grape must and natural flavours to restore body, flavour, aroma, and complexity. Both have an RRP of £19. wednesdaysdomaine. com

The Fine Cider Company is set to open a bricks and mortar shop in East London. Located in a London Fields railway arch, the wholesaler, who has taken over the premises as part of a warehouse move, will sell a range of fine ciders and perries from a counter at the front. The shop will initially be open at weekends, starting on May 25th and 26th. thefinecider.company

Fell Brewery has once again teamed up with Michelin-starred chef Simon Rogan to create a limited-edition seasonal beer. The Courgette & Mint Gose is made with leftover produce from the Rogan Group’s farm in Cumbria – using fresh and fermented courgettes and a “restrained amount” of pineapple mint. The gose has a salty and sour flavour profile and a low ABV and is said to be an ideal palate cleanser with a light finish and a lingering freshness. It is one of four limited edition brews made collaboratively, with the next due to launch in the summer. fellbrewery.co.uk

28 May 2024 | Vol.25 Issue 4
Vol.25 Issue 4 | May 2024 29 Captain’s Grog ‘Nautical but Nice... and Three Stars’ This special coffee was developed by our head roaster inspired by his love of sailing. Its rich fruity aroma and warming rum flavour but with the coffee still singing provides a restorative treat. Visit our website to see all our Great Taste winning coffees. www.beanbrothers.co.uk
45 Great Taste Awards across our range Traditional, deluxe and gluten free options, all available in multiple sizes
Search: burtree puddings handmade Christmas pudding This year, choose an award winning 48
'Captain's Grog' Rum marinated coffee beans
info@burtreepuddings.co.uk www.burtreepuddings.co.uk

Delis, put the kettle on!

Whether you’re looking to up your hot drink game, pick up some sweet grab & go items or boost those biscuit selections, this feature should be able to help.

Building on the success of 63% Congo Salted and 59% Haiti Chai, Liverpool bean to bar chocolate maker TABLE has launched its third veganfriendly hot chocolate. Made with organic cocoa beans, the 62% Dominican Republic hot chocolate flakes impart notes of honey, hazelnut and blackberry. They come in a 250g bag and have an RRP of £12.50; trade price £7.75. tablechocolate.com

Benona Chocolates has new packaging, which the Stockport-based husbandand-wife duo says will allow it to supply retailers nationally. Benona’s handcrafted bonbon collection takes in 16 flavours, with Raspberry & Pistachio, Maple Pecan, Toffee Apple and Espresso Baileys its latest creations. Wholesale price is £5.75 (RRP £11.50) for a six-piece box; £8.75 (RRP £17.50) for a 12-piece box.


Elevating marshmallow to ‘grown-up’

Kensal Sugar Kitchen, a new entrant in the artisan marshmallow space, has unveiled new packaging and added a coconut flavour to its line-up. The venture was founded in 2020 by former TV producer Charlotte Simpson-Orlebar with the aim of elevating the marshmallow to “grown-up status”. Its top selling flavours - Vanilla, Passionfruit, Pistachio & Vanilla and Coconut - are available in the new sixpiece box. Trade price is £4.35 (RRP £7.45) for all except Pistachio which is priced at £4.95 (RRP £8-£8.50). kensalsugarkitchen. co.uk

California’s Dick Taylor is bringing back its Blackberry Bergamot chocolate bar as a seasonal edition. The bar balances citrus notes from blackberries, floral bergamot oil and 65% dark chocolate from Belize. International distribution is via A Priori and The High Five Company. dicktaylorchocolate.com

Azura Chocolat has enlarged its collection with 70% dark chocolate bars made from beans sourced from two new origins. The producer says it wanted to promote Bolivian beans, which have beautiful and complex notes, and offer a chocolate produced from creamy and flavoursome Filipino beans. Azura deals directly with El Ceibo in Bolivia and Paquibato in The Philippines. RRP £6 for 75g. azurachocolat.com

Bringing some off-the-wall fun to chocolate gifting is Cocoba Chocolate, with its Unicorn Hot Chocolate Bombes (RRP £3.95 for a single bombe). With the addition of hot milk, each white chocolate bombe reveals a colour-change surprise and marshmallow treat. cocobachocolate.com

Grounds for Good’s vegan chocolate bars tap into the upcycling trend by giving a second life to spent coffee grounds. Both the dark and ‘milk’ chocolate bars contain repurposed coffee grounds and coffee oil. This not only benefits the environment, but also the taste and texture of the chocolate, says the brand’s founder Rosie Oretti. RRP £4.25 for 80g; trade price £2.48. groundsforgood.co.uk

The Co Co Company has developed a dark chocolate variant of its Gingercomb honeycomb crunch. The Scottish producer makes its own cinder toffee honeycomb with crystallised ginger, which is then hand-dipped in Belgian white or dark chocolate. Trade price is £5; RRP £2.60 for 85g. cococompany.co.uk

30 May 2024 | Vol.25 Issue 4
& confectionery

These chocolate coated honeyberries are sure to provide a talking point with customers - not least because few people have even heard of honeyberries. Also referred to as haskap berries, they are a member of the edible honeysuckle family. They originate from Japan and Canada, but, as they thrive in colder climates, The Scottish Honeyberry Growers – a collaboration of eight visionary farmers – is cultivating them in Scotland.

As well as selling them in fresh form, the cooperative freeze dries the berries, and, in December, launched a retail range of chocolate coated freeze-dried berries in white, milk and dark varieties. RRP is £7.50 for 125g. scottishhoneyberrygrowers.co.uk

Mighty Fine has risen to the challenge of making no-honey honeycomb, enabling the launch of two vegan bars. The Harrogate producer has made craft honeycomb from blossom honey for the last ten years, but when consumer research highlighted demand for vegan honeycomb, it set about developing a no-honey recipe.

“Prior to launching the bars, we conducted a piece of consumer research which highlighted that 95% of vegetarian, vegan and plant-based respondents said that vegan honeycomb was unique and exciting. 85% of respondents also said that stores should improve their dairy-free range – with half of respondents stating that they wanted more textural choice in plant-based confectionery,” said brand manager Olivia de Juan.

Combining its handcrafted vegan honeycomb with oat mylk chocolate, the producer has launched two bars - Vegan Salted Caramel and Vegan Oat Mylk Chocolate - with an RRP of £1.40. mightyfine.co

Holdsworth Chocolates has created The Decadent Dessert Collection (RRP £18; trade price £9 for 185). Five truffles modelled on traditional British desserts – Sticky Toffee Pudding, Lemon Meringue Pie, Bakewell Pudding, Eton Mess and Millionaire’s Shortbread – feature in the selection box. Each variety is also available in 110g single flavour ballotins. holdsworthchocolates. co.uk

Second Street Bakeshop has given American brittle a regional twist through the inclusion of local ingredients such as Irish butter and Achill Island sea salt. The Cork confectionery company offers several Toffee Brittle flavours, with Roasted Hazelnut Milk Chocolate (also available in a plantbased version) its newest recipe. Wholesale price €3 (£2.50) RRP €6 (£5) for 90g. secondstreetbakeshop. com

Plant-based chewing gum brand Oh My Gum! has rounded out its range with the addition of a tropical variant. Oh My Gum! makes its gum from chicle - tree sap from the sapodilla tree in Mexico. Trade price is £1.85; RRP £3.25. ohmygum.com

As well as selling direct to the public through its village shop in Dunlop, near Glasgow, Idle Hands welcomes trade enquiries. The tiny European-style bakery makes an array of confections, including Petit Fours (RRP £5 for a box of four handmade chocolates) and veganfriendly Turkish Delight, which comes in Black Cherry, Rose, Lemon and Orange flavours (RRP £7.95 for a 200g bag). idlehandsshop.co.uk

Bennetto is certified organic, fairtrade, vegan, gluten-free and carbon-neutral, reflecting founder Lucy Bennetto’s commitment to “doing things the right way”. The New Zealand B Corp, which first started making chocolate in 2kg batches in 2010, is currently launching into the UK, with distribution via House of Sarunds and CLF Distribution. RRP £3.693.99 per bar. bennetto.eu

Each of Chocolate Arthouse’s Salted Caramel Bonbons is handpainted to create a unique work of art. Handmade salted caramel ganache is encased in a milk chocolate shell and made from the Dorset chocolatier’s own blend of chocolate – a combination of Belgian and Colombian. RRP £25 for an 18-piece box. chocolatearthouse.co.uk

Islands Chocolate’s 37% White Chocolate Buttons have raised the bar for white chocolate, bringing the complex, sophisticated flavour of natural Caribbean cocoa butter to an area dominated by sugary offerings that tend to lack flavour. These baking buttons are robust enough to hold up in bakes, or melt quickly as couverture in more refined recipes. islandschocolate.com

Chocoholics Anonymous, a newcomer to the plantbased scene, claims to have created “something better than milk chocolate”, using 49% organic Peruvian cocoa, 25% oats and hazelnuts and 10-15g less sugar than regular milk chocolate. The ingredients are ground in stone refiners at the company’s Lincolnshire factory to produce a dairy-free chocolate. RRP £4.95 for a 110g bar. chocoholics-anonymous. co.uk

In Portugal, Chocolates Dom Jose has partnered with Mariquinhas Ginjinha de Obidos to develop a truffle with the sour cherry liqueur, Ginjinha. The producer says there was nothing on the market like it. Sour Cherry Liquor Truffles have an RRP of €15 (£13) for a 10-piece box. chocolatesdomjose.com

31 May 2024 | Vol.25 Issue 4

Sauces for waffles, ice cream and pancakes

Hawkshead Relish has made its foray into the pudding space, unveiling a trio of dessert sauces at the Farm Shop & Deli Show. Raspberry Ripple Ice Cream Sauce can be drizzled on pancakes or sundaes; Sticky Toffee Waffle Sauce is designed as an accompaniment for waffles, ice cream, pancakes and sticky toffee pudding, and Lemon Drizzle Sauce can be served with lemon sponge or used in a cheesecake or trifle. Trade price is £19.5520.75 per case of six 300/320g jars. RRP £4.65-4.95. hawksheadrelish.com

Artisana has collaborated with another likeminded Angus producer, Sacred Grounds, to launch a coffee and chocolate brownie. The Cafe Creme Brownie is topped with cinnamon white chocolate and candied cinnamon pecan pieces. RRP is £3.25 for an individually wrapped brownie. artisanabrownies.com

Delicioso is now carrying Lemon Curd, Chocolate Drops and Caramel Crunch artisan sourdough biscuits from Lady Joseph Lady Joseph, who was originally French, first started making these cookies after moving to La Rioja, Spain, as they reminded of her homeland. Today, her grandchildren are continuing the biscuit making tradition. Trade price £2.95 per 100g unit. delicioso.co.uk

Having established a loyal following at markets and events, The Homemade Brownie Company in Hampshire has launched its most popular glutenfree brownie flavours in retail format. Classic, Triple Chocolate, Salted Caramel and Chocolate Orange Brownies are all available in a 60g single pack, 20g double pack and 340g tray, priced respectively at £1.35; £2.50 and £4.90 to the trade. homemadebrownie. co.uk

London ice cream maker Jefferson’s has improved its Rockiest Road recipe, adding its own homemade “marshmallow fluff” so that this flavour is now vegetarian friendly. Panzer’s Delicatessen are among the stockists of the ice cream, which is made from organic milk. RRP £7.75-8.50; trade price £4.15. jeffersonsicecream.com

Free-from brand Lazy Day has treated its traybakes to a redesign – rolling out new recipes, packaging and branding across the eight-strong range. The individually wrapped bakes, which include Millionaire’s Shortbread, Chocolate Tiffin and Golden Syrup Oaties, are hand-baked in the producer’s gluten-free, milk-free and egg-free bakery. Trade price £18 per 12x50g case. lazydayfoods.com

Available in Chocolate Chip, Blueberry Frozen Yoghurt and Cinnamon Churro varieties, Doughlicious’ cookie dough gelato bites encase ice cream or frozen yogurt in cookie dough coated in a soft cookie crumb. Adopting a “dough good” mantra, the treats contain no refined sugar, and are all gluten-free and/ or vegan. They have just been treated to a brand refresh.


These soft matcha brownie cookies from EN will appeal to Japanese culture aficionados. The inclusion of matcha gives them their vibrant green colour, whilst Belgian white chocolate chunks add sweetness. Wholesale price is £2.20 for an individual cookie (RRP £3.50-4.50). ikomiki.uk

Milk tea is an everyday drink for South East Asians, and now Hotea is bringing this tradition to the UK with a fusion product that combines the fragrance of Malaysian milk tea with the robust flavour of Hong Kong milk tea. The use of both evaporated and condensed milk on a Ceylon tea base ensures an authentic experience. Trade price is £3.20 for 260ml. hellohotea@gmail.com

Lost Sheep Coffee claims to be the first brand in the UK to use speciality grade coffee beans in a milk-based ready to drink format in its new range of iced coffees. Launching this summer, the Iced Latte and Iced Mocha drinks are based on the Kent roastery’s Get To The Hopper blend. RRP £2.20 for a 250ml can. lostsheepcoffee.com

Nectar & Leaf, a new London-based tea company specialising in loose leaf herbal infusions, is expecting its Peach Lemonade blend to be popular this summer. It balances peach, apple, lemon and orange peel with a touch of hibiscus and lemongrass in a botanical infusion that can be hot or cold brewed and enjoyed either warm or iced. Trade price £4.75 for 60g; RRP £9.29. nectarandleaf.com

Women who are looking to enhance their wellbeing are the main target audience for Blissblends’ new range of wellness teas. Each of the five blends – Glow Getter, I Need Calm, Nourish Flow, Blooming Bliss and Sleep Serenity – addresses a specific aspect of wellbeing, from stomach comfort to stress relief. RRP £18 for 12 bags; trade price £10. blissblends.com

Flavour Head, a new brand targeting adventurous tea drinkers, has added four black and green teas to its collection. Supreme English Breakfast, Elegant Earl Grey, Divine Decaf and Triple Green Tea all come in packs of 15 tea bags; wholesale price £17.70 for six packs (RRP £4.95). flavourhead.com

Kaytea’s new Hydro Infusions cold brew tea bags with added electrolytes launch next month [June] via its web store, harnessing the hydration trend. There are four blends - Lemon & Maté, Lime & Mint, Peach & Green Tea and Lime & Hibiscus - available to the trade priced at £4.59 for 12 bags; RRP £6.49. kaytea.co.uk

32 May 2024 | Vol.25 Issue 4
>> biscuits, cakes & puddings tea & coffee
Vol.25 Issue 4 | May 2024 29
May 2024 | Vol.25 Issue 4 34 Indulge in the perfect balance of tangy and sweet with our sour cherry chocolate truffles! Phone: +351 262 071 518 | Mobile: +351 91 263 0054 geral@chocolatesdomjose.com | www.chocolatesdomjose.com Chocolates Dom Jose   Rua Dr Alberto Martins Dos Santos N.4  Bombarral 2540-087 • Portugal Tea Tease offers an extraordinary collection of teas sourced from diverse regions, each infused with the essence of their unique terroirs. The brand is dedicated to enhancing the traditional tea experience with a cultural twist, ensuring each sip celebrates global flavours. For Wholesale orders please email or call us for further information teateaseltd@gmail.com | 07956317027 teateaseltd www.teateaseltd.com Enjoy your tea the way you LOVE IT! English breakfast tea with a Greek Tease Award winning coffees roasted in Wales by The Welsh Coffee Company. Poster Artwork 2021.indd 1 28/01/2022 11:27 www.welshcoffee.com AUR/GOLD MOR BENDIGEDIG AUR/GOLD

Whole flower teas that support wellbeing

Tea By The Sea says it has noticed that tea is “having its moment” as consumers seek tea as a way to support their wellbeing. This has prompted the Welsh tea producer to launch a loose leaf range that enables people to enjoy the theatre that comes with making proper tea. Popular blends in the range include Sleepy Tea, Superwoman Tea, Women’s Balance Tea, Welsh Breakfast, Cwtch Tea and Daily Calm. RRP £7.99 (trade price £5.59). teabytheseawales.com

Organic vegan brand Ausha has added Moringa Ginger Tea to its line-up. This combination of moringa leaves, sliced ginger root and liquorice root is said to be great for immunity, digestion and cleansing. Trade price £3.95 for 20 bags; RRP £5.95. ausha.co.uk

Nic Tomkins founded Fit Matcha last year after discovering a gap in the market. The London-based brand was conceived to provide health-conscious consumers with a convenient and tasty way of getting their matcha fix. It uses ceremonial grade matcha and offers three products so far: Raspberry + Vanilla, Blueberry and Original unflavoured matcha. Trade price £13; RRP £21.99. fitmatcha.com

Honeybush - a South African shrub with flowers that smell strongly of honey - is similar to rooibos but not as well known. But with the launch of Pure Honeybush from Tea People, this looks set to change. The caffeine-free herb yields a reddish brown infusion with a woody honey aroma and a sweetish taste. RRP is £6.95 for 75g; trade price: £4.90. teapeople.co.uk

June will see LittlePod, the company behind the Campaign for Real Vanilla, introduce a tea made with vanilla pods from its own orchard. Blended by Sumik Tea of Japan, the tea comes in a recyclable tea stick format which keeps the vanilla fresh, whilst also serving as an aluminium tea strainer. littlepod.co.uk

Chris and Tash Brett have started Forge Valley Roasters after returning from six years in Arkansas and spotting an opening in their part of Yorkshire for a coffee roasting business. The venture’s inaugural blend, Hinderwell, is said to offer a vibrant interplay of jammy fruits and bittersweet chocolates, forged from Ethiopian and Colombian beans. RRP £11 for 250g; trade price £6.60.


Grandfather George Shop is looking to introduce Ivan tea - a traditional Slavic tea drink - to the UK marketplace as a caffeine-free alternative to black tea. Produced from the leaves of the wild fireweed plant, Ivan Tea tastes and looks like black tea, but with notes of dried fruit and wood. RRP is £5.99 for a 50g bag. grandfathergeorge.shop

CHĀ is on a mission to bring authentic Indian masala chai to tea enthusiasts. Available in Classic, Ginger and Mint flavours, its Masala Chai Spice Blends are fusions of cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, black pepper, ginger and nutmeg. Wholesale price is £6 for 30g; RRP £15. cha-tea.co.uk

Full of beans

Speciality coffee professional Marcello Geraci gives us the low down on the latest trends

The biggest trend in the industry at the moment is drawing on experience from other sectors like wine and beer. Carbonic maceration, where beans are sealed in a vessel filled with carbon dioxide, to develop the fruity and floral flavours and often high levels of acidity, is one.

Producers are also starting to do co-fermentations with coffee. Rather than flavouring coffee, when they pick the coffee cherries, they peel them and ferment them with different types of fruit, and they develop these very funky, weird and interesting tastes. They’re experimental, so I would only suggest that delis buy into these if their customers are the adventurous type.

On the milk side, we’ve seen a huge trend of coming back to cow’s milk, because it brings out the sweetness of coffee beans, and it makes a dark roast taste milder. Another big trend we’ve seen a lot of lately –  even in competitions – is using cow’s milk, only lactose free. It contains an enzyme, which, if it’s well steamed, gives a higher sweetness to the drink. So if you want to try something tasty and adventurous, take some lactose-free milk or full-fat cow’s milk and use it to make a latte with a cofermented coffee – it will taste almost like a milkshake.

We’re seeing more and more good producers selling decaffeinated coffee Traditionally, we used one of two methods: the first was called Swiss water, which involved soaking the beans to remove the caffeine before drying them. Then there’s the carbon dioxide method, where CO2 is circulated through the beans to extract the caffeine.

We’ve started using a process we call sugarcane decaffeination, which relies on the same enzyme and compound used to process sugar cane, and is a byproduct of molasses, ethyl acetate.

The main thing is that decaf coffee was historically bitter and tasted bad because people considered it an afterthought and didn’t apply the normal best practice for extraction. But one of the main compounds that makes it bitter is actually caffeine. So if you take it out, and you extract the coffee in the right way, you actually should have a beverage which is quite sweet.

Finally, there’s half and half coffee – reducing the amount of caffeine in coffee. There is a variety that’s naturally low in caffeine, called Laurina, which is being grown more widely. And it tastes good because you’re not processing it, so you don’t affect the taste.

35 May 2024 | Vol.25 Issue 4
tea & coffee >>

Mum-preneurs Gemma and Laura are looking to make positive change using coffee as a tool. With names such a Party All Night and Nobody’s Listening To Me, their Tired Mums blends will resonate with sleep-deprived mums everywhere, whilst helping to fund charities that support mums and their wellbeing. Trade price for 227g is £6.20; RRP £8.509.25. tiredmumscoffee.co.uk

Through its partnership with a forest coffee farm in Honduras, Czech company Ebel Coffee is bringing one of the rarest coffees in the world - Arabica Geisha - to consumers. Washed, natural, white honey processed and black honey processed beans from José Cuellár Fajardo’s farm are roasted in Europe and supplied to retailers in whole bean or compostable capsule format. RRP £15 for 225g; wholesale price £8. ebelcoffee.com

This month sees the arrival of a beauty brew with collagen from D’Amazonia Hot on the heels of Menopause Tea, which launched in February, Beauty Tea blends collagen with antioxidant-rich ingredients such as moringa leaf and blackberry. RRP £12 for 20 bags. damazonia.co.uk

Whilst MOMO’s kombucha is usually fermented with a blend of green and black tea, its latest launch is from loose coffee leaf. The Londonbased husband and wife team has partnered with Headstand, a company that brews coffee leaves instead of beans, to create a limited edition that packs in antioxidants, tropical notes and a kombucha kick. RRP from £4.50 for 330ml. momo-kombucha.com

Holy Cow Tea has introduced small gifting caddies filled with 40g of loose-leaf tea or infusions, alongside its larger tins. Something Sweet (rooibos blended with cocoa, strawberry pieces and rose petals), Fruit Bouquet (a hibiscus based medley with apple and rose) and Jasmine Blossom are three of the most popular blends in this new format. RRP £8.50; trade price £4.50. holycowtea.com

Sombra – the latest coffee from Volcano Coffee Works – funds an agro forestry project in Brazil. The Brixton coffee roaster pays premiums on all coffee brought from Fazenda Mio to support the project, which will reforest over 60,000 trees and coffee plants over the next five years. RRP £8.50. volcanocoffeeworks.com

Newcomer Tea Tease is hoping to make waves in the speciality tea scene by delivering a tea drinking experience that is “both familiar and surprisingly new”. The first of its traditional tea blends with a twist is English Breakfast Tea with a Greek Tease. This combines the robustness of black tea with aromatic cinnamon and cloves, fusing Greek and English culture in a single cup. teateaseltd.com

Tapping into the collagen trend is newcomer Bizzi, with a ready to drink (RTD) range that claims to be the first on the market to deliver both a caffeine and a collagen boost. As well as containing 10g of bovine collagen, the matcha and coffee RTDs provide 100% of the recommended amount of vitamin C and zinc in each serve. RRP £2.50.   wearebizzi.com

Rå Hygge is bringing the Nordic concept of cosiness to the coffee category, with a range of ground and whole bean coffees with mushroom extracts. The low acid coffees are said to be particularly suitable for those who are sensitive to caffeine. Trade price £9.35 for 227g; RRP £13.95. rahygge.com

Do you buy in deli items or make them yourself?

I’m not a chef and I don’t know how to run a kitchen.

KATE FORBES, The Trading Post, Somerset

“I’m not a chef and I don’t know how to run a kitchen,” Kate Forbes tells FFD “Plus, there are people out there doing these things that do them really well. Staffing is an insanely big expense already so making things in-house is not something I’m even contemplating. The Trading Post has a serveover full of chilled pasties, pies and sausage rolls from Chunk of Devon and Scotch Eggs from Nutts. These are delivered regularly so the counter is always full and Forbes has also recently added products from Samosa Wallah.

On the sweeter side of things, The Trading Post’s main supplier is Can I

Bake You A Cake?, which is based less than 10 miles away It delivers twice a week, providing a range of indulgent traybakes (currently it’s Malteser Millionaire’s Shortbread).

“They just bring us things and I’m happy to be a test bed for them because people love what they do,” says Forbes also supplements this offering with lines from The Handmade Cake Co.

While she doesn’t have a foodservice operation, Forbes says that her curated selection of savoury and sweet foodto-go now serves a bit of a dual purpose.

“These are the things that people come here specifically to get, but they are also impulse items at the till.” tradingpostfarmshop. co.uk

We do frittatas, which are inexpensive to make.


COOK, The Whitby Deli, North Yorkshire

The approach varies at The Whitby Deli, where the kitchen turns out sausage and vegan rolls, spanakopita, flapjacks, and cakes.

The margins on these in-house items can be as much as 75%, but even the ranges she chooses to buy in will come in at 40-50% gross profit.

Cook’s general rule is to source items that are

a little trickier for her own kitchen, such as quiches and pork pies.

“We did have a chef in for a while to make things like ready-meals but the take-up was so small that it wasn’t cost effective.”

Making items for the deli in-house also helps with wastage from the retail side.

“We do frittatas, which are inexpensive to make and use up cheese and charcuterie, as do our Grazing Boxes, which use up any deli items that are close to end-of-life.”


36 May 2024 | Vol.25 Issue 4
& coffee
Vol.25 Issue 4 | May 2024 37 Winner of 29 Great Taste Stars across our range of hand roasted coffees. T: 07508 701919 E:aidy@47degreescoffee.com W: 47degreescoffee.com Colombian Supremo American Diner Guatemalan Santa Rosa De’Longhi Park Runners Blend 47_ad_aug_23.qxp_Layout 1 13/08/2023 06:37 Page 1 01740 629 529 | info@craggsandco.co.uk | www.craggsandco.co.uk Sustainably farmed Competitive & stable pricing High in protein & fibre BRC certified products Our award-winning flour is produced from the finest ancient grains which are sustainably grown in the beautiful British countryside. Our entire range carry the highly sought after Great Taste 2 and 3 star awards, in recognition of outstanding quality and flavour. Available in 1kg and 20kg bags. Minimum order 2 boxes of 10 × 1 kg bags. No delivery charges. Call or email today for a trade price list
May 2024 | Vol.25 Issue 4 38 colombia El Vergel Estate Washed Decaf www.nottcoffee.co.uk I’m on a mission to give decaf drinkers the same choice and quality of coffee as regular coffee drinkers. Death before decaf? No thanks - I’ll take the decaf! Dave Jameson TEA MADE IN AN ESPRESSO MACHINE! SUSTAINABLY RECYCLED AND REPURPOSED TO PRODUCE AN AUTHENTIC TEA LATTE! CAFFEINE FREE VEGAN FRIENDLY AUTHENTIC RECIPE ANTIOXIDANTS ALL NATURAL www.novustea.co.uk WINNER OF Available in 1kg & 250g Sustainable Pouch Filter Basket also available to buy @ www.novustea.co.uk NEW! new half page.indd 1 22/04/2024 11:18 MULTI AWARD-WINNING PEPPERMINT CHOCOLATES AND TEAS www.summerdown.com Brought to you by the Peppermint People


Makes 6-8 portions


320g puff pastry

300g banana shallots, peeled and finely sliced

30g butter

30g plain flour

300ml whole milk

250g Norfolk asparagus

100g crumbly Goat’s cheese, such as Brightwell Ash

80g Prosciutto di Parma

40g Parmigiano Reggiano

A handful of rocket

Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling

Sea salt flakes & freshly ground black pepper


• Preheat the oven to 210°C /

190°C (fan) / gas mark 6.

• Roll the puff pastry out onto a heavy baking tray lined with greaseproof paper. Prick the pastry all over with a fork and bake for 18 to 20 minutes until fully cooked and golden. Remove from the oven, gently move to a wire rack and allow to cool.

• Peel the asparagus spear downwards from just below the head with a D peeler and trim the wood bottom off. Blanch in boiling water for 2 minutes; rinse though a cold running tap to stop it cooking and, when drained, chop each spear into 6 pieces, tilting your knife diagonally. Place on kitchen paper to dry out.

• In a medium saucepan, sweat the shallots in the butter with seasoning until tender on a low heat, this should take about 10 minutes. Add the flour and cook

out for 2-3 minutes, stirring continuously. Add the milk and cook for 8 to 10 minutes until the mixture is thick and glossy, continuing to stir throughout. Decant into a bowl and allow to cool for 10 minutes.

• Spread the shallot mix in an even layer over the puff pastry, leaving around 1-2cm around the edge and top with the crumbled goat’s cheese, followed by the asparagus, saving a few of the tips for the final layer.

• Finish the tart with torn prosciutto pieces, rocket leaves, shaved Parmesan, the extra asparagus tips, drizzle with olive oil and serve.


Prowrap has launched new versions of its Speedwrap Pro dispensers for operators using cling film, foil and parchment paper. The compact Pro 300 and the larger Pro 450 feature upgrades designed, the company says, with kitchen safety, sustainability and efficiency in mind. These include a patented sheathed safety blade, antimicrobial technology and compatibility with recyclable films. wrapex.com

Welbilt has introduced a new undercounter dishwasher to the UK market. It claims the WMAXX OptiMaxx 500 is both efficient and compact, making it well suited to operators with limited space. It says the dishwasher’s stainless steel arms ensure durability, ith a userfriendly interface and cloud connectivity, which allows operators to monitor energy usage, temperatures, machine status and have remote technical access. welbilt.com

Dark Woods Coffee’s next SCA accredited courses will take place on 23rd May, 11th June and 23rd July for the Foundation Barista, and 18th-19th June for the two-day Intermediate level. The speciality roaster also offers a modular training programme, teaching key coffee skills in six 90-minute sessions, supplementing the free Intro to Coffee, Milk Techniques and Espresso Guide guides on its website. darkwoodscoffee.co.uk

39 FOODSERVICE May 2024 | Vol.25 Issue 4





hard cheeses on wooden shelves?

The Deli Retailing Code of Practice is available in PDF format and can be requested by emailing support@gff.co.uk. The Code is free to Guild of Fine Food members and can be purchased by non-members for £250+VAT. How can I prove that I have not exceeded a given use-by date when the outer packaging has been discarded? Can I cut cheese and meats with the same equipment? Do I have to mature or ripen cheese under refrigerated conditions? Can I display olives at ambient temperature? Can I display and store some

Developed by the Guild of Fine Food and food experts at Cornwall Council, the Deli Retailing Code of Practice is split into three main sections – Food Safety Essentials, Good Hygiene Practices and Trading Standards – the Code is intended as a one-stop reference guide for deli teams, providing the guidance to ensure that both compliance and best practice standards can be achieved in all areas of retail.

Vol.25 Issue 4 | May 2024 45
Is it safe to cook and freeze a previously frozen raw product? Do I need to know about Natasha’s Law? You have questions our Code of Practice has the answers Assured Code of Practice for Deli Retailing gff.co.uk | +44 (0)1747 825200 | @guildoffinefood
cheeses and cured meats at ambient?
Vol.25 Issue 4 | May 2024 41 IT’S FINALLY HERE! Bon Bon’s are proud to announce the arrival of our new Everyday Collection for spring - summer 2024. Our latest offering includes an array of fun and exciting treats including the launch of Bon Bon’s Chocolate range, handcrafted by our very own team of chocolatiers! May also heralds the arrival of the recently updated and refreshed range of sweet nibbles and snacks from the Real Good Food Co. For more information please contact us on: 01937 840670 | sales@bonbons.co.uk www.bonbons.co.uk PLEASE SCAN TO VIEW OUR NEW BROCHURE WWW.CUFFEDINCOFFEE.COM Embark on a flavourful adventure with our award-winning house blend, honoured with a 2-Star Great Taste award. Each sip promises a journey of bold flavours, igniting your senses and fuelling your next adventure.
May 2024 | Vol.25 Issue 4 42 handmade puddings 45 Great Taste Awards across our range Minimum 6-week fridge life, also suitable info@burtreepuddings.co.uk www.burtreepuddings.co.uk Search: burtree puddings
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Big fish in a small pond

When Alison McKenzie took on the subsidiary of Italian caviar producer, Adamas, she thought restaurants, not retailers, would be her biggest customers. Then Covid hit.

What were you doing before Caviar & Cocktails, and how did it come about?

I worked in clothing for 20 years. A former colleague joined the family that have the farm in Italy [Adamas Caviar]. He kept saying, “come and join us, we need somebody for the UK”. And finally, at the end of 2019, I decided to give it a go, and then February 2020 hit. I had to completely change the business plan. We went into it thinking that this would be predominantly a B2B venture working with restaurants and hotels. But of course, for the first two years, that was off the table. In a way it was good because I learned some digital marketing and how to reach people at home.

Now we’re back with more the B2B, plus the retail sector has been strong for us. What Covid taught us was that people can stay in and do something nice. So, at Christmas, for birthdays, or Valentine’s, caviar is a strong product for independent retailers because it’s becoming much more of an accessible treat. What Champagne once was, caviar is now.

What products do you have in your range?

We’re essentially a caviar company also selling things that you can pair with it. We work with MacNeils, a Great Taste winning smoked salmon producer; we’re in partnership with Champagne companies; we have the cocktails, which go really well with the caviar. But at the heart, we’re a caviar brand.

Can you tell me a bit more about the farming operation?

Caviar is a complicated product. It’s CITES

protected, because the sturgeon is an endangered species, so there’s a total ban on fishing it in the wild in Europe, and export of caviar from Russia is banned entirely.

The Giovannini family are third generation fish farmers. They were originally trout farmers, and in 2000, when CITES started to get involved with sturgeon, they transitioned into it. They were one of the earliest in Europe to do it at the time.

We farm seven different species of sturgeon. Everything is fully sustainable, we have our own in-house breeding program, it’s

At the moment, who are you selling most to?

Some of our individual biggest accounts are private label brands, which we’re able to do because we have a repacking facility here in the UK. One of those is retail, one of those is direct to consumer, then we have our own retail and direct to consumer, which is the majority of our business at the moment.

What are the biggest challenges you’ve had to overcome as business?

What Champagne once was, caviar is now

all powered with solar energy and we have a race away water system through our farm.

The water is biologically naturally filtered before it goes back into the water course so we don’t use any chemicals, we don’t need antibiotics to keep the fish healthy – they’re healthy because the water’s healthy.

Do each of the species have defined flavour characteristics?

Yes, the sturgeon reach maturity at a different age, so a beluga egg is bigger than a baerii egg because the fish are that much bigger when you harvest them. Caviar goes through all different flavours in your mouth while you’re eating it. It starts off a little bit briny because it’s preserved in salt, then you get that taste of the ocean, and when you get to the centre, you get all of these aftertastes which are much more creamy, earthy and nutty, so that umami flavour starts to come through. The bigger the egg the more of that you get, so the size of the egg matters.

Obviously Covid was hard, but then Brexit was a huge challenge. Because caviar is CITES protected, it’s incredibly difficult to import. Prior to Brexit, we would place the order at 3 o’clock in the afternoon and get it before 12 o’clock the next day. Now we have to apply for an export license, then apply for an import license, then we have to import it and it has to clear CITES on the way out and on the way in. So you really struggle to find any haulage company that wants to handle it, because they don’t want everybody else’s product waiting for yours.

So in the summer of 2021, we were not really ready to take on the cost of a big repacking facility, but we had no other option. Then we had some product in Heathrow that got stuck in customs, they hadn’t put it in the fridge, the whole stock had to be written off and at that point, I just thought it was the end.

But the Chamber of Commerce were really helpful – they put me in touch with somebody who does all my customs clearance for me, handles shipments and cares as much as I do.

What’s next?

I think we’ve come through that start-up phase and we’re in the scaling up phase, looking to grow our reach and add new products.

We want to make caviar accessible to everybody, make it fun and make it something that you can enjoy at home. There’s a whole new market of millennials looking for new experiences, so we’re trying to tap into that as well as protecting the core caviar customer. caviarandcocktails.com

MEET THE PRODUCER 43 Vol.25 Issue 4 | May 2024


Hevva! tinned seafood is latest brand from Norton Barton Artisan Village

A British canned seafood brand called Hevva! has launched at the Farm Shop & Deli Show.

Making tinned food synonymous with high quality and sustainability is a personal mission of founder Adam Tynan, who is also behind the KEPT vegan meals-in-cans brand.

Named after the Cornish word shouted out to guide fishermen toward shoals of pilchards, Hevva! has an initial range of six products, all made from fish and seafood landed on the West Coast. Mussels cooked with Cornish Charcuterie N’duja, Squid in Spicy Tomato, Hake in Lemon, and Crab in Brine, all come in 90g cans (RRP £4.50-£6.50). Completeing the line-up is a Bouillabaisse and a Crab Bisque, both in 280g portions (RRP £6).

set up by Richard and Fionagh Harding is home to the Popti and Fionagh’s Crackers bakery, the distillery where Bude Gin and Kalkar Rum are made, and the Whalesborough Dairy, as well as being the home of Cornish Charcuterie.

Tynan hopes the Hevva! brand will appeal to the increasing number of people buying Spanish and Portuguese conservas –as well as to people keen to eat sustainably sourced, British seafood.

“The top line for us is that no matter what you’re putting in a can, if you’re putting it in another format, you’d be adding on 60% more carbon just by virtue of the packaging.”


Marshfield Farm’s newest True Coffee ice cream flavour was made in collaboration with Bristol’s TrueStart Coffee, a B Corp certified roaster. Using fresh farm milk and barista grade arabica beans, the producer says TrueStart’s environmental credentials informed the decision to redevelop its Coffee Mocha flavour – but that the result is its ‘best ever coffee ice cream’. RRP £7 per 1L tub. marshfield-icecream.co.uk

“Six products at launch is more than we envisaged”, Tynan told FFD, “but everyone was super happy with the development work.”

The release follows on from the introduction of KEPT canned food – vegan ready-meals in conserves – which are also made by the cannery at the Norton Barton Artisan Village in Bude.

The North Cornwall Food Enterprise Zone

Organic Japanese foods specialist

Clearspring has introduced a range of small batch sesame-based condiments. Organic Shichimi – otherwise known as Japanese seven spice, features black and white sesame seats, chilli, black pepper, nori and orange peel (RRP £4.99). It is joined by Organic Irigoma Whole Sesame and Black Sesame, as well as the lightly cured Organic Gomashio Whole Sesame and Black Sesame (RRP £3.99), all of which can be put to a variety of uses, such as in noodles, over barbecued meats and fish, around sushi and over soups and salads. clearspring.co.uk

“If you take a sardine and make it last for five years, compared to the amount that gets thrown away in the process of refrigerating it, freezing it, storing it at home, etc., it’s infinitely better to buy it in cans,” he added, not to mention that most of the fish and seafood we eat in the UK comes from abroad.

“Our most sustainable fishing methods are catching things that we’re not generally eating. So if you can champion those, you’re doing another sustainability job again.”


1 Rice pudding

This retro classic is back with a vengeance, populating the feeds of hyped bakeries Jolène and Bakehouse24, paired with jams and marmalade. The sweetened rice dish also features heavily in

Ethos Candles, made with sustainably sourced rapeseed oil, coconut wax, and cotton wicks at the producer’s solar panel-powered factory in Wiltshire, are said to celebrate the cultural heritage of the British countryside. Geranium Leaf, Honeysuckle Garden, Lemongrass & Ginger, Ozonic Sea Salt, Rosemary & Bay Leaf, and Tomato Vine and are sold to trade for £6.65 each in packs of 6 (RRP, £15.99). ethoscandles.co.uk

Functional drinks brand Fhirst has introduced a Lemon Lime flavour to its range of living sodas. Joining a range of three flavours: Cherry Vanilla, Ginger Mandarin and Passion Fruit introduced last year, and like the flagship products, the latest drink contains no sugar or sweeteners, but does have added zinc, 2 billiion probiotic cultures and 5g of prebiotic plant fibre. RRP, £2.20 per 330ml can. fhirst.com/en-uk


other cultures, namely the Indian dish kheer. Dishoom knocks out a version with cashews, cardamom and coconut milk.

2 NY style Bagels

New York style bagels are having a bit of a moment, likely the result of social media buzz. The distinctive style is said to be bigger, doughier and more heavily seasoned than the type you might find at stalwart institutions like Beigel Bake on Brick Lane. It’s Bagels in Primrose Hill has garnered an enviable following, knocking out loaded bagels primed with cream cheese and cured salmon. Meanwhile Dalston’s Papo’s Bagels, which recently featured in

a New York Times article, offers a diverse range of ‘schmear’ fillings, as well as cured salmon, tuna and sliced meat options.

3 Au Poivre sauce

This rich French sauce made from peppercorns, cognac and cream has become de rigeur in fine dining restaurants again. The luxurious sauce is being used with abandon, with everything from steaks to martinis. David Chang gave it a boost recently on his Dinner Time Live show on Netflix, serving it as a dip for a hamburger. At New York’s recently opened Demo, it comes with the lobster and French fries. You can find a benchmark version of the sauce at London’s Brasserie Zédel.

May 2024 | Vol.25 Issue 4 1
2 1
Vol.25 Issue 4 | May 2024 45 ‘Finally you can have your cake and eat it.’ www.acvdrink.com Lightly sparkling Apple Cider Vinegar drink to help minimise glucose spikes. The glucose revolution is upon us. Influencers and alternative health gurus are endorsing one of our most prescient revelations — the glucose hack. How the body breaks down glucose is apparently a concern for us all, not just diabetics and those with insulin resistance. With a regulated diet, we can all benefit from monitoring our glucose levels. Put simply, taking acetic acid (ACV) before starchy or carb heavy meals can prevent spikes and crashes we all feel but fail to understand. Those mid-afternoon fogs that send you into the spirit world, barely able to return to earth before the day is over. Now Apeal Wörld ACV has hit the market and nailed a great tasting and affordable way to take your daily dose on the go. This drink has all the glucose benefits to take before your meals and maintain energy throughout the day. RUNNING A BUSINESS ON YOUR OWN CAN BE LONELY, BUT WE’RE HERE TO HELP. ME M BER Scan the QR code to find out more, or email support@gff.co.uk SUPPORT | KNOWLEDGE CONNECTION | ADVOCACY +44 (0)1747 825200 | @guildoffinefood

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New gluten-free crackers from Cradoc’s come in three flavours –Chilli Ginger and Cumin, Rosemary and Garlic, and Cheddar and Chive. Developed for pairing with cheese, they are sold in cases of six 80g packs for £2.08 a unit (RRP, £3.20), and in six mixed 100g foodservice packs for £13.50. cradocssavourybiscuits.co.uk

Cox & Co’s new packaging is made of paper flow wrap, replacing its compostable plastic one. The producer offers a range of raw cacao and high cocoa content chocolate, as well as flavoured bars including Mint Crunch, Miso Caramel, Bee Pollen & Honey. coxandcocacao.com

Rude Health has added a Maple & Pecan Granola to its cereal range, joining the Low Sugar, Chocolate Crunch, Wild Berry, Crunch Almond and the Ultimate Granola. Made with wholegrain oats, barley flakes, sunflower seeds, Canadian maple syrup and roasted pecans, a 400g box comes in at £4 RRP. rudehealth.com

My magic ingredient

Tenuta Marmorelle Spicy Arrabbiata

While over 70% of what we stock at Willow Tree Delicatessen is produced within 50 miles of the store, we do also hold some national and international ingredients that no one produces locally, and are, to my mind, genuinely some of the very best available. One such product I always have in my own cupboard at home is the Spicy Arrabbiata Pasta Sauce supplied by Tenuta Marmorelle. Having tried a number of different versions of Arrabbiata over the years, this is by far the most authentic. The richness of the cherry tomatoes, (which makes up 93% of the ingredients), is followed up with the perfect chilli kick. When used with a bronze drawn pasta, the texture of the pasta really holds the sauce well, giving the full flavour of the sauce. That said, it is very rarely used as a pasta sauce in my house. We use it as a dipping sauce or on a mixed platter of food, with chicken, lamb, or beef. It also works extremely well with fish dishes. tenutamarmorelle.com

Colorado hot sauce maker seeks UK distributor

US producer Seed Ranch Flavor is seeking further UK listings for its range of sauces and seasoning mixes.

The brand was created by David Delcourt of Boulder, Colorado, in 2017, with the idea that hot sauce should be not just spicy, but made with fresh, organic ingredients grown from seed.

Some varieties are inspired by popular foods – Everything But The Taco (RRP £9 per 148ml bottle) for example, has Jalapeños, lime, coriander, and cumin in it, while Everything But The Sushi & Dumplings is made with fresh ginger, wasabi and sesame oil.

The producer’s hottest sauce, the Thai Green, which also featured on the popular YouTube series, Hot Ones, has Thai ginger, serrano pepper, green Carolina Reaper, garlic, coriander, lemongrass and cumin in it.

The line-up also includes Nashseoul sauce– a hybrid between Nashville hot sauce and Korean fermented Gochujang – and a range of Umami hot sauces made with porcini mushrooms, ovendried olives, capers and garlic.

The producer’s most popular sauce, however, is the Truffle Hound (RRP £14 per 237ml bottle). It is made with summer truffles, Chile de Arbol,

Ghost pepper and garlic. Its hotter counterpart, the Truffle Fire, has additional Ghost peppers and Carolina Reapers in it. The Truffle Hound also comes in a 75cl bottle – a standard wine bottle, with a resealable cork for £49 RRP.

All of the products are plant-based. The producer also makes an Umami seasoning and a Spicy Queso Cheezy Blend, as well as a sister brand of Mac’n’Cheese, Grown As* Mac – which the producer is looking to sell to foodservice outlets in the UK.

Currently the producer is working with Faire, but is looking to establish distribution channels within the independent trade. seedranchflavor.com

The richness of the cherry tomatoes is beautifully followed up with a perfect kick from the chill

Cornwall Pasta Co. has introduced an Everyday Organic range of bronze die British pasta. The four shapes, Mafalda, Macaroni, Radiatori and Lumaconi come in black, 100% recyclable boxes – in contrast with the original range of coloured ones, which match the wild ingredients in the pasta, like saffron, beetroot and wild garlic. Slightly larger than the flavoured pasta, the 500g packs are given an RRP of £4. cornwallpasta.com

47 PRODUCTS & MERCHANDISING May 2024 | Vol.25 Issue 4

The UK’s leading showcase of artisanal food & drink is returning on the 10-11 September 2024 at Olympia London for a sensational celebration of the last 25 years in the fine food & drink community! Scan the

your business!

Vol.25 Issue 4 | May 2024 45
to find out more about opportunities for
Vol.25 Issue 4 | May 2024 49 2024 New Gluten Free Bakery - Delicious Flavours: Rosemary & Garlic, Cheese & Chives, Sage & Onion. Contact: info@cradocs.co.uk ESTABLISHED 1994 Hand-madeaward-winning oatcakes & biscuits contact kenmorebakery@hotmail.com or call 01887 830556 Also available from Ochil Foods www.ochilfoods.co.uk 53 Great Taste awards to date. • Scottish Oatcakes: 1-star 2023 • Millers Crunch: 1-star 2023, 2021 & 2020 • Kenmore Shortbread: 1 star 2020 • Scottish Homemade Tablet: 1-star 2023 & 2021· Stem Ginger Tablet: 1-star 2023, 2022 & 2021 & 2-star 2020 Judging by the awards …these must surely be one of Scotland’s finest! handmade raw milk cheeses sales@stjudecheeses.com
The Passage Pantry was conceived by two Colombian expats during the pandemic. Several years down the line, their vision of a marketplace for small British producers is thriving on one of North London’s main thoroughfares.

In a prime spot

THE ARRIVAL OF the Covid-19 pandemic was an enormously disruptive event for independent food businesses across the UK – decimating profits, restricting footfall, and making long-term planning nearly impossible. But for Felipe Pugliese, 40, and Stephany Arango, 31, co-founders of The Passage Pantry in Angel, Central London, the crisis didn’t so much derail their business plan as catalyse it.

“In the pandemic we thought, ‘Okay, this is the opportunity to make our dream [come] true,’” says Arango. “The positive thing is that it gives you the push to do what you want to do.”

Though Pugliese and Arango had been working in the property sector, both had long harboured ambitions of opening a foodcentric business of their own. The friends and business partners met in London in 2016, after independently immigrating from Pereira, a small city in western Colombia’s coffee-growing region. In their spare time,


Location: 351-352 Upper Street, London, N1 0PD

they gravitated towards London’s markets, and began to discover the wealth of British produce and artisanal goods on offer.

“I always love to find nice vegetables, nice handmade products, so my favourite place to go was Borough Market,” says Arango, as she notes a framed illustration of the market on the wall. It helped that those environments reminded them of home. “In Colombia, most of the people buy from local people and small producers. So we thought it would be nice for people to find this kind of experience here as well.”

She and Pugliese began to refine their concept. They envisioned a communityfocused market that would showcase goods from independent, local producers; that would stock everything shoppers needed to make a good meal; and that would prioritise sustainability.

But it wasn’t until the arrival of the pandemic that the pair’s aspirations solidified. “The pandemic created a kind of

a sense about what we eating, how to look after our health, what are good ingredients,” says Pugliese. It also gave them the free time to think, and to organise. If there were ever a window in which they could pursue their vision, this was it.

Before Pugliese and Arango had even drawn up a formal business plan, they stumbled upon their site. The building that now houses The Passage Pantry is situated on the ever-bustling Upper Street, just up the road from Angel Station. It’s also moments from Camden Passage, a pedestrianised shopping street that’s home to a dense concentration of independently owned cafés, restaurants, boutiques, and antiques vendors.

When Pugliese first spotted the building, it was in the midst of a full-scale renovation. Even then, he could tell it had promise. He later learned from contractors working on the site that it was owned by an antiques dealer who had just retired after more than

50 May 2024 | Vol.25 Issue 4
basket: £20 Average margin: 35% Floor space: 50 sq m (plus 50-sq-m basement with kitchen) Products: 1,300

50 years in the business. Arango was more sceptical about its potential – she reasoned that any shop in such a prime location would be far too expensive – but when Pugliese finally tracked down the landlord, he found him amenable to their plans.

“He’s a really good person, he’s been very supportive, he’s been helping us a lot— really, we’ve been very lucky to have him as a landlord,” says Pugliese.

Eager to attract an independent business as a tenant, the landlord was so encouraging of their vision that he deferred their rent payments while they installed flooring and lighting, and otherwise outfitted what was a “completely empty,” stripped-back space. That grace period gave the pair the freedom and time to really put their stamp on the shop, and to do much of the work themselves, taping off sections of the floor as they plotted the layout and imagined heaving shelves and fridges where blank walls stood.

The Passage Pantry officially opened its doors during the last week of October 2021, just three months after pandemic restrictions ended in the UK. During that fragile period, Pugliese and Arango found immediate support in Camden Passage’s community of independent businesses. In turn, they worked to distinguish their offerings from what was stocked in shops nearby. While Le Coq Épicerie, a French grocery, and EGRO’, an Italian deli, are both less than a minute away on foot, The Passage Pantry differentiates itself with a focus on British producers.

When I ask them if they had ever considered giving The Passage Pantry a Colombian focus, they say they were always more interested in celebrating the produce that they found here than shipping in products from overseas. Doing so would be slow and expensive – and it would violate their core tenet of sustainability.

“It feels good to do something we believe is good for people, for the planet, for the environment,” says Pugliese. The two seek out producers who pursue their own environmental targets, opting for local partners and organic produce wherever possible. “We also do zero wastage. We have someone coming every Friday to collect our coffee waste and food waste,” adds Arango, and notes that they’re planning to adopt biodegradable packaging soon.

Wine is one of the categories where the business’s value system comes most clearly into focus. Pugliese notes that wine is the most-sold product at The Passage Pantry, and its range of more than 110 bottles is heavily weighted towards biodynamic wines, which are produced without pesticides or additives.

“Wine is a part of the culture here,” says Pugliese, and that’s why he felt it was so important to offer customers a selection of wines that “conserve and maintain.” It also gave him and Arango the chance to educate their customers, to more actively guide them towards products that are beneficial for both people and planet.


The Dusty Knuckle sourdough Isle of Wight tomatoes

Cobble Lane Cured charcuterie

Honest Toil extra virgin olive oil

La Tua Pasta fresh pasta

Purely Pesto sauces

Oliveology jarred vegetables

Melrose and Morgan biscuits

Pump Street chocolate

Brickell’s Ice Cream

DELI OF THE MONTH 51 Vol.25 Issue 4 | May 2024 CONTINUED ON PAGE 52


As the shop has grown, its offering has also expanded and evolved. “At the beginning, we thought, ‘How are we gonna fill all the shelves?’ because there are not so many small producers, we thought,” says Arrango. “Now we feel like we need more space to be here!”

The Passage Pantry certainly feels abundant. On the day FFD visits, the fridge is filled with cheese and charcuterie, kefir and pesto. The shelves carry everything from jewel-like preserves and colourfully decorated tins of seafood to flavoured olive oils and vibrant hot sauces. You could describe is as the adult equivalent of being a kid in a candy shop, but there are sweet treats, too, like bars of Pump Street chocolate, tubs of Brickell’s Ice Cream, and biscuits from Melrose and Morgan.

As we talk, the three of us sit at a table crowded with dozens of samples that Arango and Pugliese have yet to try. The two have compromised by retaining popular products

and rotating others to see what sticks. Pugliese says that they try to add one new item every week. “We like to keep the shop moving, so there is always something new to try.”

Their range is as much informed by customer requests as their own relationships with suppliers. Although they did not originally serve coffee, for instance, wary of stepping on other local businesses’ toes, so many visitors requested it that they eventually decided to invest in an espresso machine. They’ve also scaled up their prepared foods, and now offer sandwiches made using The Dusty Knuckle bread and filled with ingredients stocked in the shop, as well as hot arancini and empanadas.

Next, the two are looking into hosting events and other community engagements. “We have the space, we have the table, we have the kitchen,” says Pugliese. He envisions chef-led evenings of pasta- or enchilada-making classes, or wine tastings, all hosted around the shop’s central table.

There are still bumps in the road ahead, and continued economic instability to navigate. “We were in a position where we were 50/50 to open – we believed 100% in the concept of the project, but it was more about if we’re going to be able to sustain the business for how long, if the economy is going to recover quickly or not,” says Pugliese. “So, it was quite challenging.”

For now, the partners’ goal is sustainable growth as they continue to aim for stability and further embed themselves in Camden Passage’s ecosystem of independent businesses. But despite the many trials of this pandemic period, they say it’s all been worth it – to build their community, to highlight the producers they believe in, and to change the way Londoners shop for the better.

“The community around us has been very good, helping us and coming as regular customers,” says Pugliese. “It’s been quite supportive.”


At the beginning, we thought, ‘How are we gonna fill all the shelves?’ Now we feel li ke we need more space to be here!
52 May 2024 | Vol.25 Issue 4
Vol.25 Issue 4 | May 2024 53 GET A QUOTE
May 2024 | Vol.25 Issue 4 54 Your First Choice For Printed Natural Greaseproof Paper E: sales@chevler.co.uk W: www.chevler.co.uk Call 01844 344231 for more information and details of your nearest stockist FOIL CASES CUPCAKE CASES MUFFIN WRAPS BAKING LINERS FRESH CREAM CASES MINI-LOAF CAKE CASES EXCITING NEW STOCK LINE NOW AVAILABLE FORGE VALLEY ROASTERS AVAILABLE ONLINE, LOCALLY AND FOR WHOLESALE Chris is the roaster www.forgevalleyroasters.com EAST AYTON, SCARBOROUGH, NORTH YORKSHIRE Tash packs and delivers FAMILY RUN & SMALL BATCH. COFFEE AS IT SHOULD BE. WHY NOT? Cherry Berry Flapjack Fruit Cake Sticky Toffee Pudding Marmalade Flapjack Almond Slice Sticky Toffee Pudding Apple&Red Onion Chutney Info@just-delicious.co.uk T: 01423711595 All enquiries: JDL_0022_Guild_FF_Ad.indd 1 03/04/2023 17:08

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Unhappy employees are often disengaged, which impacts their work and, ultimately, your business. Conversely, employees that are happier are more productive and deliver better customer service.

Don’t underestimate the problem. Mental health-related workplace absence is rising, leading to rising costs for UK businesses. The most significant factor in absenteeism is stress.

A report from Mental Health UK earlier this year found that 9 in 10 adults had reported high or extreme stress levels. This highlights the need to implement measures supporting employee wellbeing and alleviating workplace pressures.

Prioritising employee wellbeing isn’t just about compassion – it’s a strategic imperative. A supportive workplace culture can empower employees to thrive, increasing productivity and overall business success.

There isn’t an ideal time to look at employee wellbeing; it should be woven into a business’s culture to genuinely care for and nurture a workplace environment. Critical moments –such as welcoming new team members – are an opportunity to emphasise this focus. But it’s never too late to reconsider your approach.

A good place to start is to look at what you’re offering staff, in terms of benefits and support. In most workplaces, employers’ perspectives on the effect of their offer will be different from that of employees. Improved communication with


I’ve just generated this month’s café menu, with recipes, in 20 seconds. This AI thing is amazing.

staff – actually asking them whether the benefits genuinely benefit them – is vital.

You should also be measuring the return on investment (ROI) of your employee wellbeing programme. This can be done in several ways.

Try studying and quantifying financial metrics, such as reduced healthcare costs, decreased turnover rates, and increased productivity. Are these returns significantly positive enough given your monetary investment in making the workplace better?

Other metrics to consider are productivity changes (increased output, reduced errors), employee retention and absenteeism. You should also regularly survey employees to gauge satisfaction, engagement and wellbeing.

Monitor all of these over time, especially before and after introducing a new benefit to your workforce – this should demonstrate ROI impact.

You can find resources to support your employees from non-profit organisations like The Stress Management Society and Mind Mental Health Charity.

Here at insight6, we can help by providing online tools to obtain employee feedback, check in on wellbeing and provide training and development workshops. Visit insight6.com for more information.

Prioritising employee wellbeing isn’t just about compassion – it’s a strategic imperative.

Great. Can it fire up the hob and get cooking, then?

I do like that TikTok marketing plan of yours but the AI is telling me that we should be posting on Facebook instead.

Great. I’ll see myself out, shall I?

Setting up shop for good hygiene

Hand-washing and toilet facilities

Hands must be washed in designated basins only. Food or equipment sinks must not be used for this purpose. Conversely, hand-wash basins must only be used for hands – not for washing equipment or discarding waste.

Hand-wash basins must have a supply of clean, warm running water (preferably 35˚C-45˚C). Taps should preferably be nonhand operable (i.e. knee or sensor operated). However, standard taps can be used and can be turned off using a hand towel.

Liquid hand soap should be provided at all basins though it is not necessary for it to contain anti-microbial compounds. Single use towels are recommended.

Meanwhile, toilet facilities must be available for staff and must not open directly into rooms where food is handled. A ventilated, intervening space with doors on both sides may be used where it is not possible to separate toilets from food production or storage areas.

It is not always possible for a small business to provide separate toilets for customers and staff – but all facilities must be connected to the drainage system and provided with ventilation. Sinks, soap and towels or a hand-drier must be available.


Food’s Assured Code of Practice for Deli Retailing The guide is available in PDF format (free for Guild Members, £250+VAT for non-members). To request a copy of the Code,

This advice is an excerpt from the Guild of Fine Food’s Assured Code of Practice for Deli Retailing. The guide is available in PDF format (free for Guild Members, £250+VAT for nonmembers). To request a copy of the Code, email support@gff.co.uk

Have you got that blue cheese I like?

Sorry, I have stopped ordering it because the AI accounting program told me it wasn’t cost effective just to stock it for a handful of customers.

FFD says: At the right moment and in the right hands, AI can be a useful tool to help retailers save time and up their game. But just because it’s quick and powerful, that doesn’t mean it should be replacing people. The nature of independent retail means that you’re always going to need human thoughts and skills to deliver the best possible service, products and customer experience.

55 May 2024 | Vol.25 Issue 4 ADVICE
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.

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