Retail Times editor Fiona Briggs reveals her top finds from the Real Food Festival in London, 5-8 May 2011
1. Added Ingredients
Abingdon fine food retailer, Added Ingredients, was visiting the Real Food Festival at Earls Court, London, seeking to enhance its reputation for offering quality food and drinks from around the world. Also a deli finalist in the Discover the Origin competition, which focuses on the provenance of products including Burgundy wines, Douro wines, Parmigiano-Reggiano and Parma Ham, store owner Jill Carver was hoping to win the top prize.
Carver told Retail Times Added Ingredients was focused on marrying good food and wine.
“It’s something people are really getting into,” said Carver. “Fine dining at home is the way forward.”
In wine, Carver works with independent wholesalers representing small vineyards and wines that are not found in the supermarket; including three local vineyards within 12 miles of the store.
Added Ingredients features 20 local producers in total and is working with a local restaurant, Kitsons, selling its desserts and patés in store. In a reciprocal arrangement, the deli provides Kitson’s cheese board.
2. Loopy Lisa’s
Loopy Lisa’s promises handmade fudge, like grandma used to make. Set up by Lisa Lane (née Hodgson) in 2004, the company offers over 40 varieties of fudge, including a new chilli and lemon flavour. According to Lane, the basic recipe is a WI one, which has been adapted. “The usp is that it’s properly handmade with no preservatives,” she says. Retailing to independents and a flagship account in Fortnum & Mason, Loopy Lisa’s was hoping to win trade enquiries at the Festival, despite it being a mainly consumer-focused event. And business? “We are in a recession – it’s difficult,” said Lane. “But we are riding the recession.”
Devon farmers and ice cream maker Rookbeare branched into sorbets at the Real Food Festival. Owner Jamie Marsh said the sorbets were unique in having no additives. They come in five flavours: mango, passion fruit, raspberry, lime daiquiri and strawberry daiquiri.
Rookbeare has been farming for 28 years and producing ice cream for 22, selling to local parlours as well as at festivals including Glastonbury. It is also on sale in Whole Foods Market, via Ocado and Waitrose stores in the south west.
4. The Real Bread Campaign
The Real Bread Campaign took a stand at the Festival in order to challenge the way (plant) bread is made and drive awareness of sowing, growing, milling, reaping and threshing and baking in order to “put real bread back in the heart of the local community”. It was supported at the show by Brockwell Bake, an association which started out as an annual real baking competition in Brockwell Park, South London in 2008; and has expanded to promote knowledge and choice in baking in the local area including growing heritage wheats on allotments, school and community gardens and with farmers close to London.
5. Firefly Tonics
Firefly Tonics aims to wake up the soft drinks category with its all-natural and refreshing drinks with no added sugar and unusual flavour combinations such as lemon, lime and ginger. Set up in 2003, the tonics are listed by Harvey Nichols, Waitrose and Holland & Barrett plus independents. According to the company’s Paul Brown, they are aimed at “people looking for something more healthy”. There are six products in the range including a seasonal variant – Britannia – and a tangerine and lime flavour featuring the mural designed by Michael Craig-Martin for the Oxford Children’s Hospital. Firefly is donating 10p from every bottle sold to the Hospital.
6. Real Organic Foods Company
The Real Organic Foods Company showed its range of Thai, Italian and barbecue sauces; ‘gourmet luxuries’, fruit reduced jams and marmalades plus chutneys under the Real Natural brand. According to the company’s David Morgan, the range’s usp is “restaurant quality taste out of a jar”, and therefore commands a premium price positioning. On sale in independents and organic supermarkets, the range is also popular in northern Europe in markets including Holland, Iceland and Sweden.
7. Choc Chick Kit
Raw chocolate in a kit form is the concept behind Choc Chick Kit, which provides all the ingredients – organic cocoa powder, organic cocoa butter and the natural sweetener, Sweet Freedom syrup. It is designed to be made in a bain marie and placed in the freezer in a tub or ice cube tray to set for 15-20 minutes.
On sale in John Lewis Food Hall, Holland & Barrett, Whole Foods Market, Infinity Foods and Planet Organic plus independent organic retailers; it’s also dairy, gluten and soya free and, according to director Galia Orme, guilt free.
8. Calon Wen and Proper Welsh
Welsh organic milk co-operative, Calon Wen, represents 20 Welsh farmer families and produces milk, butter and cheese. The full range is on sale in Tesco stores in Wales while beyond Wales, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose stores offer butter and cheese.
A new packaging design is in the offing, which will extend the label right around the milk bottles and enhance the standout of the co-operative’s cow character. According to co-operative member Richard Arnold, it will also enable cross promotion for products such as clotted cream. Eco-packs may also be revisited, said Arnold. The key to winning acceptance, is to overcome public reluctance to use milk jugs and fears of tainting, he says.
Bigger news is the launch of a new dairy in Whitland, Camarthenshire, and a new non-organic Welsh milk brand, Proper Welsh, which will be distributed direct to stores in Wales.
According to Arnold, Proper Welsh will cut road miles significantly and in South Wales will take 360 miles per bottle off the road. “We are aiming to have 5-10% of the market in the first two years,” says Arnold. “We will tell the story about our milk never leaving Wales. It’s what we call reducing our carbon hoof print.”
Currently on trial in 12 Tesco stores in North Wales, Proper Welsh will launch fully in September. A further benefit is the milk will be a day fresher because it isn’t being sent to a depot first.
“An extra day’s shelf life is massive,” says Arnold.
Cupcake-a-Licious makes, yes, cupcakes in bright colours with lots of sparkle. Set up by Laura Conway in 2008, the company sells online and at fairs and caters at weddings. Conway describes each cake as a “mini work of art”.
Northampton-based Eaton’s offers a range of Caribbean sauces, seasonings and tropical spreads, which are made in Jamaica to retain the brand’s authenticity.
11. Twisted Cider
Twister Cider distributes cider brands Westons, Burrow Hill, Gwynt y Ddraig and Thistly Cross in London and is due to unveil it’s own label – a traditional, medium cloudy cider with water melon and ginger variants.
12. Green’s of Glastonbury
Fifth generation farmers, Green’s of Glastonbury, claims to be one of the last west country farmhouse cheesemakers; producing a handmade product using traditional methods.
“People will pay a little bit extra for something special, that’s genuinely handmade on the farm,” said owner Lloyd Green.
The company sells to Waitrose, Tesco and Sainsbury’s and supplies Morrisons premium The Best label and is featured on pack. The range includes the best-selling Cheddar, Double Gloucester, goats’ cheese and mozarella.
13. Meridian and Rocks
Sister companies Meridian and Rocks showed their respective spreads and cordials and squashes at the show. The Meridian range includes an organic and non-organic line up plus free from products and is stocked primarily in health food stores. Rocks – 360ml cordials and 740ml squashes – is more mainstream and is sold through supermarkets.
14. Good Energy
Utility company Good Energy booked a stand at the Festival to showcase its green energy credentials. It supports 2,000 independent renewable generators, which feedback excess energy that is sold on. The renewable energy supplier has also teamed up with eco-entrepreneur Arthur Potts Dawson to launch a low carbon kitchen guide, featuring energy-efficient kitchen and cooking tips.
15. Lyburn Farm
New Forest farmers and cheesemakers Lyburn Farm showed its Stoneycross and Old Winchester cheeses; sold through deli counters in Waitrose and locally in Wiltshire.
16. Vestal Vodka
Vestal launched its Polish vodkas in Harvey Nichols a month ago with a fanfare including appearances from bands Florence and The Machine and Razorlight and comedian Noel Fielding; plus an after show party at the new W hotel in Leicester Square. According to director William Borrell, the celebrities already buy his vodka from upmarket grocer Melrose & Morgan in Primrose Hill. The range includes two sipping potato-based vodkas, including Podlasie, made from a small, sweet potato variety; plus a double distilled rye vodka. There’s also a limited edition black organic elderberry liqueur.
“If you can make it in London, you make it anywhere,” said Borrell, who claims the products have a similar appeal to slow food and attract people interested in small batch distillation.
17. Doves Farm
New gluten free cereals were on show at Doves Farm. There are two varieties: Cocoa Rice and Fibre Flakes. According to the company, gluten free is gaining popularity with people now choosing gluten free products as a diet choice, rather than because of an intolerance.
18. Laverstoke Park Farm
Owned by former Forumula One driver Jody Scheckter, Laverstoke Park Farm occupies 2,500 acres and has the equivalent of a buffalo per acre. Claimed to be the biggest small holding in the world, it’s also home to pigs, lambs and chickens. The product range spans milk, mozarella, ricotta, burrata, fudge and ice cream. The company retails through its own farm shop and online and products are also on sale in Waitrose and Sainsbury’s stores. Crucially, all aspects of animal husbandry take place on site. Animals are born, raised, slaughtered and cured on site. This theme fits well with the Field to Fork Festival, Laverstoke runs in association with Sainsbury’s (30-31 July 2011).
19. Whole Foods Market
Seasonal food heroes was the key theme on the Whole Foods Market stand, showcasing the UK farmers and their produce including asparagus, strawberries, tomatoes and spring lamb. Staff were upbeat, buoyed by the news of new store openings Glasgow (September 2011), Richmond (2012) and newly-announced Fulham. Whole Foods Market currently trades from five stores in London: Kensington, Soho, Clapham, Camden and Stoke Newington.
20. RDA Organic/Pip Organic
New Pip Organic orange juices in orange and orange and mandarin variants were launched to trade customers at the show. RDA Organic co-founder and Organic Trade Board committee member, Patrick O’Flaherty, said demand for organic was reviving. “More people are coming back into organic now and we are bringing people back into RDA [which is more premium product] as well.”
21. Little Melton
Little Melton made its debut at the Festival. Launching imminently in Harrods and Partridges, the company produces gourmet yogurts in Norwich. According to the company, the texture and taste of the yogurt is different – it is sweetened with honey and fresh fruit puree. Available in 150g and 430g tubs, the smaller size is clear to show off the fruity swirls to great effect. Run by New Zealanders – Mark Collins as general manager and Cara Cunningham in sales and marketing – the duo are working with chef Peter Gordon on the brand launch.