Retail Times editor, Fiona Briggs, visited the Speciality & Fine Food Fair at Olympia, London, yesterday, 6 September 2010. Here are her top 20 fine food finds
1. Rude Health
Wandsworth-based Rude Health is a one-stop breakfast shop, offering organic muesli, porridge and granola; plus cereals.
The new award-winning Granola (rrp £5.99) is claimed to the only organic multi-grain granola in the UK and is blended with date syrup to enhance the colour and texture. Cereals including puffed oats (rrp £1.60) and puffed wheat (rrp £1.40) are sustainably sourced while all packaging is recyclable. The range was relaunched two years ago and is listed in Waitrose, while Tesco stocks the Super Fruity Muesli (rrp £3.49) and Early Bird Crispy Muesli (rrp £3.79); and Puffed Rice (£2.20) features in the gluten free aisle in Sainsbury’s.
2. Moo Free Chocolates
Established two years ago in Reading, Moo Free Chocolates tick all the free-from boxes: dairy free, lactose free, gluten free, wheat free, egg free and they are vegan and vegetarian to boot. Initially on sale online and through independents, the range is now available through wholesalers Infinity Foods and Suma Wholefoods. It includes bars, Easter eggs, advent calendars and chocolate drops, in whimsical packaging aimed at children; plus gift boxed pralines for adults. Prices range from 99p to £7.99. According to the company, the children’s products fulfill a growing need and enable parents to give children with intolerances, a treat.
3. New York Delhi
I met this company at the Real Food Festival earlier this year and it continues to deliver on taste with its new Manuka Honey & Mustard and Bollywood BBQ VIP Nuts. New at this show were dark chocolate covered coffee beans, Americanos, and a preview of its signature VIP Nuts covered in dark chocolate.
Crips has relaunched its baked crisps in new packaging and is plugging a 99 calories per pack and low fat mesage, targeting women in their mid-20s and onwards. The original bear and animal-based imagery has gone, replaced with quirky retro pictures, which researched well, according to the company. The new line up features the three best selling flavours: mature cheddar cheese and spring onion, thai sweet chilli, sea salt and balsamic vinegar. Crips also featured the Darling Spuds brand, which it helps distribute on behalf of Salty Dog creators, Judy and David Willis. The duo’s latest brand, which features flavours including West Country Cheddar, Leek and Pink Peppercorns, has just been snapped up by Starbucks in the US and Canada.
5. Gran Stead’s
Speciality food and drink suppliers often have the best stories to tell and Gran Stead’s is no exception. The non-alcoholic ginger wine, traditional still lemonade and new still lemonade with a zing of ginger, are made by a husband and wife team, Chris and Rosemary Knox, in East Sussex. Retired police officer, Chris, took over production from his father, who had sourced the original recipe for the non-alcoholic ginger wine, sold through his local butcher’s shop. Lemonade was added to the portfolio in 2008 and the zing product has been introduced this year. Made and hand filled on a local farm – Knox claims to have filled 85,000 bottles this year alone – the drinks are on sale in Fortnum & Mason plus farm shops, garden centres and delis.
6. Cawston Press
Cawston Press presented an award winning and cohesive range of ambient pressed juices, available in 1-litre take-home cartons plus two, 250ml on-the-go variants. Cawston Press promises 10 whole apples in the larger pack size and two in the smaller size carton. The line up, which includes a new ‘of the moment’ apple and beetroot variant, delivers on taste. According to the company, that’s because the fruit is picked and pressed within 24 hours and means the products often beat fresh in taste tests.
7. Lakenham Creamery
Lakenham Creamery of Norwich showcased its premium ice cream brand, Norfolk County. The company has been making ice cream since 1921 and supplies Harrods, independent retailers in East Anglia and London; plus Waitrose under the retailer’s regional food programme. Norfolk County cuts a traditional and upmarket look with a royal blue pack and swan motif. Flavours including butterscotch are equally rich. Rrp is £4.49 per tub.
8. PT’s Biscuits
PT’s Biscuits had crammed a old fashioned car with its biscuits at the show and was doing its utmost to keep stocks intact. Launched by Paul Tidmarsh as a quest to make the best biscuit ever, the Dorset-baked biscuits are served to passengers on Virgin Upper Class and to blue chip business accounts as well as online. Now the company is starting to wholesale. Biscuits are available singly (80p retail) and in punnets (around £4). Gift boxes are also available plus glass jars for coffee shops. There are six varieties made from quality ingredients and with no nasties.
9. Love for Local
Meeting a need for local producers in the south east of England, Love for Local provides a distribution service to retail outlets. Founded by Toby Drought, who has a farming background and studied agriculture, Love for Local offers a storage and distribution service to farm shops, delicatessens, butchers, coffee shops and caterers. It currently represents suppliers in Sussex and Kent and plans to expand across the southern counties.
10. Arturo Sanchez
New to the UK market is the Arturo Sanchez range of Iberian hams and cured pork products from Spanishtop10.com, a Spanish company, offering speciality foods including wine and cheese. Headed by managing director John Hornblow, Spanishtop10.com plans to mark Arturo Sanchez’s UK launch with a party and attempt at the Guinness World Record for carving the longest slice of ham – the current holder carved a whole ham from start to finish in one piece. According to Hornblow, the company will be targeting delis and restaurants with whole hams plus selection packs.
A new regional crisp brand, Corkers, debuted at the show. Potato farmers from Ely in Cambridgeshire, Corkers is hoping to tap into the niche crisp market as once-niche brands move to the mainstream. Its potatoes have traditionally been used in the chipping market, said Julie Feltwell, pa to the md. “We wanted to see how they crisp up and they are absolutely delicious,” she said. Boasting all natural ingredients and no MSG, flavours include pork sausage and English mustard.
12. Kent & Fraser
Launched at the Fair last year, the gluten free brand returned in 2010 with a range of food-to-go products including single portion cookies and mini cakes. The St Leonards-on-Sea brand has hit the ground running and is already listed by Selfridges, Harrods and Lakeland plus the Spanish department store, El Cortes Ingles. Additive and preservative free, the products have universal appeal. “People can’t believe they are gluten free,” said the company’s John Selby.
The organic fruit drinks supplier, Luscombe, unveiled a tie up with Breast Cancer Care to market a limited edition version of its Cranberry Crush, during Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October. The company has produced 30,000 bottles and will be donating 15p from every bottle sold to the cause.
14. RDA Organic
Strengthening its RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) credentials, RDA Organic has relaunched its fresh juices and smoothies with an Evesse apple and talking up the health benefits of its products including vitamin C content and anti-oxidant properties.
The company also previewed 250ml versions of its Pip, everyday, organic apple juice. Available in three flavours, Cloudy Apple, Cloudy Apple with Cherry and Cloudy Apple with Mango, the 250ml bottles retail at £1.49. RDA Organic co-founder and Organic Trade Board committee member, Patrick O’Flaherty, said work was afoot to revitalise organics with a major EU generic campaign promised for 2011.
15. Roger & Roger
A backlash against all things British and local, Roger & Roger was hoping to steel a march at the show with its Roger’s hand cooked chips, premium Belgium potato crisps. The chips are made by the same company, which produces and distributes the Croky brand in Belgium and the Netherlands. “Retailers are tired of the whole made in Britain thing,” said a spokesperson for the brand.
16. Hale & Hearty
A wheat and gluten free specialist, returning to the Fair for a second outing, has already won business in Waitrose, Tesco, Sainsbury’s and selective Asda stores for its range of pasta, cereal, savoury and sweet snacks, mixes and store cupboard essentials including Choco jungle cereal and Cassava crisps. It is also working with 16 UK wholesalers and exporting to seven countries. Managing director Christian Konig said the company was looking to extend in new categories such as fresh and frozen.
17. Corn Again
Pop corn is in vogue and an underdeveloped market in the UK, according to Consett, County Durham, artisan producer, Corn Again. Launched last year, the company supplies three savoury and two sweet variants in clear, resealable pouches. Mostly supplying outlets in the north east plus 19 local Asda stores and a few cinemas, rrp is £2.30 per bag.
An independent company launched last year by Mike Stevens and Dan Shrimpton, Peppersmith breaks the chewing gum mould with is natural chicle gum made using real peppermint. Its won approval from the British Dental Health Foundation English and gets the thumbs up for its quirky packaging – packs feature a series of moustache-sporting heroes including Tom Selleck, Salvador Dali and Nietzsche – linking with the shape of the peppermint leaves on the company logo. The packs also include papers, tucked under the lid, to help dispose of the gum. Pricey at £1.35-£1.50 for 10 pieces, Peppersmith is targeting higher end cafes and stores and is already listed in Whole Foods Market.
The Yorkshire company’s range of fruit and herb vinegars have been beautifully redesigned in collaboration with a Design Council initiative. Each bottle features the Womersley ‘W’ and individual drawings with an Arts and Crafts-inspired feel. The company grows its own herbs and sources local fruit and still makes the range of eight vinegars and four jellies by hand. The new look has caught the Harrods’ buyer’s eye, since the range will be featuring at the department store during British Food Fortnight later this month (18 September to 3 October).
20. Make us a brew
Witty organic tea brand, Make us a brew, was created by cartoonist cum DJ Mr Scruff, aka Andy Carthy. Carthy begin selling tea at night clubs and festivals along with tea-related merchandise. The brand also won a listing in Selfridges and is now stocked by Whole Foods Market, As Nature Intended and Revital health stores, among others.
Carthy’s journey will strike a chord with many smaller producers, as his business partner, Elyse Taylor, says: “He made a tea brand without knowing it.”