Foodies Festival: Day 3
Foodies Festival: Day 2
So today’s Foodies blog is focussing on beautiful food products that I’ve found on my adventures in North Yorkshire.
As I was searching the colourful aisles of the Festival I turned a corner and the light that filled the room was obscured. I looked up to see what was shrouding the room and it was the imposing figure of a South African, ex-Bull and fellow Food Adventurer; and so my first food find is a carnivore’s dream…Limpopo Biltong! As an ex-rugby player I love meat snacks; they’re a great source of protein, easily accessible and great tasting. However, be warned: not all biltong is good biltong!
The stand looked phenomenal there were cured meats hanging from every possible space and the smell was incredible. Now, as I said, I do like my biltong and I know a little about it having looked after the category as a Retail Buyer. So, armed with a little knowledge and a lot of enthusiasm, I engaged with the man mountain. He boasted a plethora of flavour combinations including garlic, fiery chilli, biltong scotch eggs, biltong cheese and minced biltong. I was loving it. I opted for the Butcher’s Choice variety and ordered a £5 portion. That wasn’t the end of my interaction though as I was asked, ‘How do you like your biltong? The wetter the better?’ Yes, winner! For me biltong should be soft and melt in the mouth like a good carpaccio of beef.
So, did it deliver? Yes it bloody did! Even though I’m not in training any more I will definitely be snacking on Francois Van Der Zee’s biltong.
My other find of the day was a sweet delight from north of the border: a Maple and Pecan Brownie from Wood’s Brownie Co. Again I was drawn in by the engaging purveyor with his Scotch charm and quirky Pork Pie Hat! It was towards the end of the day and he’d clearly done a good trade as the selection was a little more limited than it would have been a few hours earlier; however, I was still in awe. The stand had a real craft kitchen feel and the packaging was perfectly on trend. Boxed and embossed and adding real value to an already great product.
I managed to wait until I got home to devour my brownie so I could enjoy it with a nice medium roast Latin American coffee – it was worth the wait. The brownie was exactly as it should be: crisp on top and moist throughout. The maple syrup added a creamy richness to the indulgent dark chocolate and the snap of the pecans gave a real texture difference on the eat. Brownie brilliance!
Finally, I just need to rate my lunch. Today’s lunch was provided by the guys at the aptly named ‘World Food’. I went for, what I thought was, a basic chicken wrap; how wrong was I! The wrap was a beautiful behemoth of world-food goodness. It was huge. Imagine the scene…one large naan bread, a smearing of hummus, a mountain of grated carrot, a handful of pickled turnip, a dash of sun blushed tomatoes, a pinch of coriander and a sprinkling of mint topped off with a couple of handfuls of shredded chicken and a network of garlic mayonnaise lines – boom! All this for £8 too, winner!
Roll on the final day in Harrogate.
Crowd funding is a phenomenon that’s taking the UK and the world by storm with more and more start-up food and drink businesses turning to ‘the Crowd’ to realise their growth ambitions. ‘But why now?’ I hear you ask; well let me attempt to explain my view on this.
Since the financial crash the UK food and drink market has presented two opportunities: one of consolidation and one of niche, reactionary opportunities. The consolidation end of the spectrum has seen the likes of Warren Buffet merge huge global enterprises increase the power held by market-leading business. This, in turn, has made big companies less agile and less able to react to emerging market trends which has allowed start-up companies to get a foothold in retail and meet the needs of the fickle consumer. This opportunity wouldn’t have been afforded to emerging businesses little over ten years ago as they would have been strategically strangled off supermarket fixtures by category powerhouses. One example of this can be seen in the Crisps and Snacks category in the UK with the rise of the premium popcorn sub-category led by Propercorn. Traditionally Walkers would have seen off the challenge to their market share in bullish fashion but the market shift has meant that the Leicester-based manufacturer had kept hold of their core products tightly and allowed Propercorn to own a sub-category and space on shelf. So the global financial shift has brought about more opportunities for fledgling businesses to flourish but why has crowd funding proven such a popular method of fuelling growth?
I believe that this method of fund raising offers more benefits to the entrepreneur and business than just hard cash. Crowd funding acts as a phenomenal marketing tool and a great way to get a large number of people to see your brand and business and have a vested interest in how you perform. Unlike Angel Investment, it provides a brilliant ‘shaggy dog’ story to talk to the press about if you’re successful. Unlike a bank loan, ‘the Crowd’ offers a cost-effective way of raising capital without it heavily impacting your bottom line. Finally, I believe crowd funding to be a success because it allows your Average Joe to feel like Duncan Bannatyne and play at Dragon’s Den without having to give away £200k of your children’s inheritance.
Crowd funding has raised over £115M in the UK in the last five years alone and is only set to increase as more start-up businesses exploit the multiple benefits it holds for them. There are some great opportunities for Food Adventurers to further explore their passion and get involved with a young business and potentially find the next Propercorn!
Here is just a couple of great Northern food and drink businesses that I’ve found who have chosen to turn to ‘the Crowd’ to further their journey:
I was asked a question by one of the catering students I was working with in Bruges about Cadbury’s decision to change the recipe of their Fruit and Nut bars, after the student had read an article in The Sun.
‘Sultanas, currants or raisins. What’s the deal?’ inquired the student.
‘Fair point’, I thought, but there has to be something in it if a business like Cadbury’s has made this change; and if disgruntled chocoholics have brought it to the attention of the press.
This was actually something that I covered in January for The BBC documentary, Rip Off Britain saying that the bulk industry will add more fruit, nuts and other inclusions to keep their price down as the cocoa commodity price continues to rise.
This is still my answer to such a question but this led me to investigate further and I discovered that sultanas contain less sugar. Could this be a deliberate ploy to reduce the sugar content in their bars following government pressure and the so-called ‘sugar tax’?
So what is the difference between the three fruits? I went shopping to Waitrose to find out exactly…
Raisins = £3.40 kg
Dried white Moscatel grapes resulting in a dark, dried fruit and like a currant, dense in texture and bursting with sweet flavour. A raisin can (unlike currants) soak up other flavours, which is why its popular to soak raisins in flavoured alcohols such as Amaretto or brandy, before using in cooking. The main producers of the Muscatel are the USA, Turkey, Greece and Australia
• per 30g serving
Fat 0.4 g
Saturates 0.2 g
Sugars 69.3 g
Sultanas = £3.40 kg
A sultana is a dried white grape but this time, coming from seedless varieties of grape.Usually Thompson Seedless variety. Sultanas are golden in colour and tend to be much plumper, sweeter and juicier than other raisins. Sultanas will absorb other flavours so are good for soaking (Sultanas may have been bleached to make them lighter in colour than raisins.) sultanas are sometimes dried with vegetable oil and acid. Turkey is the main producer of sultanas
per 30g serving
Fat 0.1 g
Saturates 0.0 g
Sugars 20.8 g
Currants = £3.40 kg
Dried Black Corinth (also known as Zante) grapes the name currant comes from the ancient city of ‘Corinth’ Other names for currants are Zante currants, Corinth raisins, or Corinthian raisins,
per 30g serving
Fat 0.4 g
Saturates 0.1 g
Sugars 67.7.8 g
Prices Based on 5th November 2015 Waitrose
So to fully answer that student’s query:
Cadbury’s may be killing two birds with one, small, sultana-shaped stone. The inclusion of sultanas in their bars decreases their cost of goods because the cocoa price is outweighing the soft fruit price. This move also curries favour with government bodies demonstrating a tangible reduction in salt and sugars, which, in today’s climate, is a big deal. In my opinion Cadbury’s have made a very shrewd move here which decreases their costs, improves health credentials and makes little or no difference to the taste. Well played sirs.