Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Great Moos! Cow Juice Beer wins Gold Star Great Taste Award for Croots Farm Shop in Derbyshire

Croots Farm Shop in Derbyshire has scooped a One Star Gold Great Taste Award for its Cow Juice Beer.

The awards run by the Guild of Fine Food, are regarded as the Oscars of the food and drink industry.

Cow Juice is one of four farmyard beers designed by Steve Croot, who runs the farm shop at Farnah House Farm, Wirksworth Road, Duffield.

It is the first accolade won by the ale, which is produced for Croots Farm Shop by Derbyshire brewery Nutbrook.

“We created our farmyard range of beers last year as part of our regional ale section, and they’ve all been very popular,” said Steve Croot. “It’s fantastic news that the Cow Juice Beer has won such a prestigious award as a one star gold Great Taste Award. It’s a lovely ale and goes down well with our customers.”

The Great Taste Awards are regarded as the benchmark in speciality fine food and drink, and have been running since 1993.

Last year Croots won a Gold Star Great Taste Award for its Black Pudding Sausage.

The Cow Juice Beer was one of only 23 bottled beers to receive a gold star rating in the 2010 Great Taste Awards.

Cow Juice (6%) is brewed in a traditional way using sugars also found in milk, which gives a full-bodied, thicker taste. With familiar roasted stout flavours, it has a warm soothing flavour.

The other beers in the Croots farmyard range are Pig in a Bottle, a ‘hoppy beer’ at 4.5%, Ewe Drink, a sweet beer with a rich golden colour at 3.6% and Croots Shire Ale, a strong brew at 6.2%, which pays tribute to the Shire horses that graze at Farnah House Farm, and features a 50-year-old photo on its label that shows Tom Yates – the grandfather of Steve’s wife Kay – and two Shire horses that lived at the farm in 1959.

A fifth beer in the range, which will be given a rooster theme, is currently being developed by Croots in conjunction with West Hallam-based Nutbrook Brewery. Croots sells around 1,200 bottles of Nutbrook beer every month.

The farmyard beers cost £2.45 per bottle.


Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Tasty Tesco Debut for New East Midlands Healthy Snack Crips 99Cals

Crunchy new lower fat snack Crips 99Cals has made its debut in Tesco stores in the East Midlands and beyond.

The oven-baked wheat and potato snack created by East Midlands snack producer Crips has 70% less fat than traditional fried potato crisps and only 99 calories per pack.

The product was unveiled on the healthy snacking aisles at 39 Tesco stores from Brackley to Barnsley in July.

It is the first time that the new-look Crips 99Cals packs have gone on sale – offering a tasty, deliciously different snack to health-conscious crisp lovers with an appetite for something special.

Created by a team based at Ingleby near Derby, the Crips 99Cals range is available in three different flavours – Thai Sweet Chilli, Sea Salt & Balsamic Vinegar and Mature Cheddar Cheese & Spring Onion.

Crips have been voted number one in independent tests…beating five leading-brand healthy option snacks on taste, texture and appearance.

“We are delighted that our new Crips 99Cals range has been unveiled in Tesco stores in the East Midlands area from Northampton right up to Barnsley,” said Crips managing director Gareth Smith.

“We hope the new packs will go down a treat with customers who appreciate their snacks but who are looking for something low in calories and fat, and who don’t want to sacrifice the crunch, taste and eating experience of more traditional snacks.”

Crips 99Cals have no GM ingredients, no monosodium glutamate, are trans-fat free, have no artificial colours or preservatives, contain heaps of natural flavour, and are suitable for vegetarians.

Crips 99Cals are on sale at the Tesco stores listed overleaf at £0.49 per 22.5g pack.

Caroline Bartrop, regional marketing manager for local sourcing in north & east of England for Tesco, said: "We are delighted to be the first retailer to be stocking the new Crips 99cal range in Tesco stores. Crips is a really innovative concept and we think the packaging will have great stand out on shelf."

The Tesco stores stocking Crips 99Cals are:

Alfreton, Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Barnsley Extra, Brackley, Chesterfield (Extra and Metro), Clowne, Daventry, Derby – Mickleover, Doncaster (Extra and Edenthorpe), Glossop, Goole (Boothferry Road), Heanor, Hinckley, Hucknall Extra, Ilkeston Extra, Kettering Extra, Leicester (Hamilton Extra and Extra), Long Eaton Extra, Loughborough Extra, Mansfield (Chesterfield Road Extra and Jubilee Extra), Melton Mowbray, New Ollerton, Northampton (South Extra), Nottingham (Carlton, Metro, TV Extra and Toton Extra), Oakham, Sheffield Infirmary, South Wigston, Towcester, Wellingborough 2, Weston Favell Extra, Whaley Bridge and Worksop.

Friday, 23 July 2010

Christmas comes early for Cherizena coffee

Coffee specialist Cherizena has created its first batch of Christmas Coffee ready for the festive season.

Last year the family-run firm sold 2.5 tonnes of its Christmas Coffee to cafés, delis, farm shops and other outlets.

This year’s limited edition Christmas Coffee has been created using a very similar recipe by flavouring the Colombian Exselsior medium bean with a delicious combination of Jamaican rum, toasted pecan nuts, warming nutmeg, cinnamon spices and a hint of orange.

With an aroma reminiscent of Christmas pudding, the Cherizena Christmas Coffee is perfect for food service operators and retailers looking to add a seasonal twist to their coffee menus.

Available in both regular and decaffeinated versions, the Christmas Coffee can be teamed up with Cherizena’s ‘snip and pour’ packs for filter machines, which are available in boxes of 50, including filter papers.

Cherizena’s coffee, which is available as beans or ground for easy use, is packaged in a range of different formats for food service operators up to a kilo in size, and in branded or own-brand packaging for retailers.

“The sun might be shining but our thoughts have already turned to Christmas, and we’re delighted with our first batch of Christmas Coffee. We’re now taking orders from trade customers, and will expect to start dispatching from August onwards,” said Kate Jones who runs the Leicestershire-based firm with husband Tom.

“Adding a Christmas coffee to menus and shelves gives customers something seasonal and festive to try. The feedback from our trade customers who had Cherizena’s Christmas Coffee last year has been very positive.”

Offering up to 30 single origin coffees and blends, and 20 different flavoured varieties, Cherizena has something to suit all tastes.

It is a leading UK specialist producer of coffee, and sources premium, rare and speciality coffees, as well as creating its own range of superb flavoured coffees.

The Christmas Coffee is one of its limited edition flavours. For details call 01664 820111 or visit

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Food and Drink Forum survey provides snapshot of industry in the East Midlands

A snapshot of the food and drink sector in the East Midlands has revealed the impact that the current economic climate is having on firms working in the region in the industry.

The food and drink sector is one of four priority sectors of the East Midlands – contributing 17.5% GDP (gross income) to the region. It is around twice as important in the East Midlands economy as it is nationally.

Now a survey carried out by The Food and Drink Forum - one of the region’s largest organisations offering business support to the sector - has revealed how the sector is being affected.

The majority of food manufacturing firms questioned at the Food and Drink Forum’s annual general meeting said that the economic situation was impacting on business in some way – both positively and negatively.

Cash flow difficulties, volatility in markets, reduced orders from customers, and the public cutting back on spending were some of the problems listed by companies.

But for others, the economic climate had given them new opportunities to innovate, vie with competitors and to shine, as well as the opportunity to discover new markets for their products.

The majority of those questioned reported that things were going well, despite the recession that the country has experienced, and none were undertaking or threatening redundancies.

“The Food and Drink Forum AGM and networking supper offered the perfect opportunity for us to ask as many East Midlands food manufacturers as possible how things were going and it proved to be a very interesting and valuable experience,” said Food and Drink Forum managing director Fiona Anderson. “The majority of firms questioned said that the current economic climate was affecting business – although for some it was business as usual. The effects varied enormously from negative ones such as losing orders and difficulties accessing finance to very positive ones like doors being opened to new markets and the opportunity to invest in new innovations.

“Overall the findings revealed that the majority of firms are coping well, and that they are planning for a robust future with investment in new product development, capital expenditure on plant, skills training and development.”

Other key findings of the survey were:

• Those who had approached banks for finance reported more stringent terms and increased demands for security.

• There had been lower demand for products from some sectors, such as pubs.

• A handheld snack producer reported that fewer corporate events had impacted on business.

• Companies had introduced stricter terms for payment for their customers.

The firms questioned ranged from a home-run business operated by two people up to a company with a £5.5m turnover.

More than 150 delegates attended the annual general meeting and networking supper of the Food and Drink Forum at Kelham Hall, near Newark. They included food and drink business owners, employees of companies associated with the sector, as well as others linked to the industry in the region.

The Food and Drink Forum, which is based in the Business Centre at Southglade Food Park, Nottingham, was launched in 1998 as a not-for-profit membership-led organisation to stimulate and support the sustainable growth and development of the food and drink industry in the East Midlands.

“The Food and Drink Forum’s links with firms working in the food and drink sector in the East Midlands gives us a unique insight into the challenges the sector faces, its needs, and trends in the industry,” said Fiona Anderson. “This snapshot has provided us with valuable information about how firms in the sector are faring and ways that we can help them develop in the future.”

For more information visit or call 0115 9758810.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Nottingham-based website aims to help artists

Artists are being given a helping hand to weather the global economic recession following the launch of a new website.

Founding editor Nottingham-based Andy Pepper has unveiled to provide free specialist guides and intelligent savings for artists and independent creative professionals.

The site has 12 advisors from 11 cities around the world, and has been developed as a free resource for those who are embarking on a career in art, as well as those who already work in the creative field.

“Generally, artists are undervalued,” said Andy, who is a visiting lecturer in fine art at Nottingham Trent University and The University of Lincoln. “As a society we like them to fill our surroundings with great work but often leave them unsupported to ‘get on with it’. It is hard enough surviving in normal circumstances, let alone in an economic recession. The new website WeLikeArtists aims to give artists a break.”

The website is designed for emerging artists, established artists, and students, and includes advice on promoting work digitally and approaching a gallery for the first time, ways to save money on equipment and other essentials, and practical tips on running a business. It also features places to set up free online portfolios, free websites, free organisational tools and ways to get free business cards.

"As an independent artist you tend to discover shortcuts and savings to stretch the budget. That's normal. Much of the time survival is about flexibility and adaptation,” said Andy, who is an artist working with installations, holography and light. “I realised that some of the things I had unearthed, and ways I was working, might be useful to others in the same boat, so WeLikeArtists has become a central location to distribute some of that information."

Among the advisors to the site are Tracy Cordingley , a product designer and senior lecturer at Nottingham Trent University, Sarah McNicol, the Hive operations manager at Nottingham Trent University, Jonathan Ross, a holography collector and director of Gallery 286 in London, S Mark Gubb, an artist based in Cardiff, and Arthur Brown, who is a graphic designer and managing director of the Cooling Brown Partnership which has been responsible for some of the most successful illustrated reference books published in recent years, including Wallace & Gromit.

International advisors are based in Germany, Sweden, India, New York, Los Angeles, Sydney and Hong Kong.

Andy, who lives in West Bridgford, spent two years developing the site and within three hours of going live, received visitors from around the world.

“Everyone who has worked on the development of the site has done so for free,” said Andy. “They think artists should be supported and wanted this site to help in some, small, way.”

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

World Cup range of sausages and burgers at Croots Farm Shop helps raise cash for charity

A Derbyshire good cause has emerged a winner from the sale of a World Cup range of sausages and burgers at Croots Farm Shop after more than £300 was raised for Treats Children’s Charity.

Stoke City player Rory Delap helped kick off the charity fund-raising effort at the Duffield farm shop just before the World Cup got underway.

Ten per cent from the sale of the Bangerooney, WAG, and Three Lions sausages and the Johanna’s Burgers throughout the football tournament was donated to the Derbyshire-based children’s charity.

Now it’s been announced that £310 has been collected for Treats, which was launched more than 22 years ago by a group of professional businesswomen in Derbyshire to raise money for the children of Derbyshire and the surrounding region.

“Our customers really got behind our fund-raising effort for Treats and I’m delighted that we raised more than £300 for the charity,” said Steve Croot, who runs Croots Farm Shop & Kitchen at Farnah House Farm, Wirksworth Road.

Croots is renowned for its sausages, and created the World Cup range especially to raise money for Treats, which is the shop’s chosen charity of the year.

Monday, 12 July 2010

Free taster sessions to mark Bunny Hill Riding Centre’s 55th birthday

Beginner, novice and experienced horse riders are being invited to take part in free taster sessions on offer from a riding stable that’s celebrating its 55th anniversary.

The birthday ‘presents’ are being given by Bunny Hill Riding Centre on the Nottinghamshire/Leicestershire border near Costock to mark the family-run firm’s milestone.

The 10-15 minute free sessions on Saturday July 31st are open to would-be riders keen to get into the saddle, lapsed riders who’ve not been on a horse for years, as well as regular riders who might need help with a specific challenge. Riders with their own horses are also being encouraged to pop along for assessments and advice.

The consultations are being held as part of an open day and are the chance for riders to receive expert tips from the stable’s owners, Sam and Lou Humphrey, as well as the opportunity for non-riders who fancy finding out what it’s like to learn to ride.

Bunny Hill Riding Centre is staging a series of events during 2010 to celebrate its 55th anniversary. The equestrian centre was launched in 1955 by Sam Humphrey’s parents, Freda and the late Bob Humphrey, and has taught thousands of people to ride.

“We’re running the open day and free taster sessions to give people the chance to find out more about learning to ride, and to offer lapsed riders the chance to get back in the saddle,” said Sam Humphrey.

“It’s also an opportunity for regular riders to come along and ask us questions about specific problems or challenges they want to over come. Riders at all stages are continually learning.”

The sessions will run from 11am to 4pm, and are open to riders who want to bring their own horses, or those who’d like to try Bunny Hill Riding Centre’s horses. Children from four years old are eligible.

Visitors will have the chance to look around the facilities on offer at Bunny Hill Riding Centre, including the indoor school and the floodlit outdoor ménage.

To take part in a free ten-15 minute taster session, register by email or phone on or 01509 852366, stating name, address, telephone number and email address, and a slot will then be allocated. Terms and conditions apply. Visit for more information.

Two ** Gold Great Taste Award for Anila’s ‘ absolutely perfect’ Goan Green Curry Sauce

Anila’s Authentic Sauces has scooped a two ** Gold Great Taste Award for its popular Goan Green Curry Sauce.

The accolade marks the 11th Great Taste Award presented to Anila’s range of premium curry sauces, chutneys, pickles and dips by The Guild of Fine Foods.

To win such a high rating, up to 20 judges unanimously agreed that the Goan Green Curry Sauce had achieved ‘absolute perfection’.

“The Goan Green Curry Sauce is one of our most popular sauces, and we are thoroughly delighted that the judges of the Great Taste Awards 2010 agree that it’s something very special,” said Anila Vaghela, who founded Anila’s Authentic Sauces in 1997.

“It’s such a versatile and delicious curry sauce, and as it is gluten free, dairy free and with no added sugar, as well as being suitable for vegetarians, it appeals to a very wide range of tastes. We love it, our customers love it and now we’ve had confirmation from The Guild of Fine Foods, which promotes excellence in speciality food.”

The Great Taste Awards are the national benchmark in speciality food and drink, and have been running since 1993.

Made with mint, coriander, spinach and coconut, Anila’s Goan Green Curry Sauce is sold in a range of speciality retailers, delis and farm shops, including Harrods and John Lewis Food Halls at Oxford Street and Bluewater.

It is one of eight premium curry sauces, handmade in small batches, by Anila’s, and is perfect with fish, prawns and vegetables. The firm also produces a range of 16 chutneys, pickles and dips made with single fruits and vegetables.

Previous Great Taste Award winners in the range include three *** Gold Awards for Anila’s Spicy Korma and Spicy Mild curry sauces, and awards for the Chilli Chutney and Tindoori Pickle. The Spicy Korma Curry Sauce also scooped a Free From Food Award in 2009.

Anila’s Authentic Sauces is based in Walton-on-Thames with a unit in Hounslow, and is run by Anila and her husband Dan.

Anila’s cooking has always been popular with friends and family, and in the early 1990s she began selling jars of curry sauce on a very small scale in her local community in Walton-on-Thames, Surrey. She sold all 80 jars at her first fair at Weybridge in 1992. Phone calls from very satisfied customers followed, and Anila began fulfilling small orders.

In 1997 she was made redundant from a job as a PA and decided to seize the opportunity to form her own company to develop Anila’s Authentic Sauces.

She carried out extensive research, took expert business advice, and felt there was a gap in the market for high-quality, premium curry sauces. She soon gained a listing in the food hall of her local department store, and before long Anila’s curry sauces were on the shelves of a range of health stores, delicatessens and independent specialist shops.

Anila outgrew her kitchen at home and moved to a catering kitchen in Surbiton in 2002. A year later the business needed larger premises once more, and Anila’s re-located to a 1400 sq ft unit in Hounslow. In 2006, husband Dan also joined the team.

Anila’s products are now sold at John Lewis Oxford Street and John Lewis Bluewater, and top quality gourmet stores, such as Harrods, Wholefoods and Planet Organic, plus hundreds of other outlets that include health food stores, garden centres and gift shops, as well as smaller independent stores such as Budgens at Ascot, Shepperton and Crouch End. Anila’s also sells direct to the public at 28 farmers’ markets across Surrey, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire, including Guildford, Walton, Windsor, Maidenhead, Ascot, Cobham, Beaconsfield and Farnham, and online via

Friday, 9 July 2010

Regional and Speciality Food and Drink market in Nottingham offers doggy foodie delights for the first time

Shoppers at this month’s Regional and Speciality Food and Drink Market in Nottingham can pick up supplies for their four-legged friends for the first time after a new stall joined the market.

Mrs Bishop’s Doggy Deli will be selling biccy bones and other handmade doggy treats at the monthly market on Friday July 16th and Saturday July 17th.

The market, run by East Midlands Fine Foods in conjunction with Nottingham City Council, features up to 30 different stalls and has been running for more than three years – attracting a wide variety of regional producers and suppliers.

But this is the first time that speciality food for pets has been on sale.

“The East Midlands is home to a wonderful array of speciality food and drink producers, and the Regional and Speciality Food and Drink Market gives shoppers in Nottingham the chance to buy their products from them directly each month,” said Jo Murphy, from East Midlands Fine Foods. “Now we’re offering handmade, locally produced items for dogs too.”

Nottingham firm Mrs Bishop’s Doggy Deli uses flour from Green’s Windmill and other locally sourced ingredients to make a range of speciality dog biscuits.

Another stall joining this month’s market is Rico Mexican Kitchen, run by Marcela Flores Newburn and based at Southglade Food Park, Nottingham. She sells a range of authentic Mexican products, including salsas, beans and cooking sauces.

The market is held in the Old Market Square on the third Friday and Saturday of every month between 9am and 4.30pm. Items on offer include cheese, meats, preserves, cakes and other products from around the East Midlands.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Food and Drink iNet business support bus rolls into Lincolnshire

Food and drink firms in South Lincolnshire are being invited to climb aboard a business support bus when it rolls into town - and discover new routes to success.

The Food and Drink iNet outreach bus will be at Springfields Outlet Shopping Centre, Spalding, on July 20th between 10am and 4pm.

On board will be business advisors from the Food and Drink iNet and the Sustainable Construction iNet, who will be able to offer free innovation advice and guidance.

As well as signposting firms to the help and support that’s available for businesses in the area from the iNets, they will also be highlighting opportunities such as CompeteFor, which is a free service that enables businesses to compete for contract opportunities linked to the London 2012 Games and other major public and private sector buying organisations. Other programmes that will come under the spotlight are Angle Plc, the Wash Fen Programme and Select Lincolnshire.

“The outreach bus is a really handy way for us to get out onto the road to spread the message about the iNets and the free innovation support that the iNet business advisors can offer,” said Rachel Linstead, Lincolnshire Business Advisor for the Food and Drink iNet. “We will also be promoting additional business support that’s available in the area, and showing firms how easy it is to register for CompeteFor, which could be the first step towards them getting involved in supplying food and drink for the 2012 Olympics.

“That could prove to be a massive opportunity for food and drink firms in Lincolnshire.”

The roadshow event coincides with the South Holland Food Festival, which runs from 19th July to 15th August 2010.

Businesses working in the food and drink sector, the construction sector and in other areas are encouraged to drop in to the outreach bus during the visit to Lincolnshire on July 20th.

Funded by East Midlands Development Agency (emda) and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the Food and Drink iNet co-ordinates innovation support for businesses, universities and individuals working in the food and drink sector in the East Midlands. One of four iNets, it strives to develop an effective network to encourage the collaboration of academic expertise and knowledge, and local food and drink business innovation needs.

It aims to build on the tradition of innovation in the food and drink industry in the region by helping to create opportunities to develop knowledge and skills, and to help research, develop and implement new products, markets, services and processes.

During the initial two-year phase of the Food and Drink iNet, more than 300 businesses in the region were supported, grants were given to 57 firms, and funding was provided for nine university collaboration projects. It also ran a successful series of events that attracted more than 650 delegates from 150 businesses to look at some of the key industry issues, as well as staging three best practice factory visits.

Now the second phase of the Food and Drink iNet has begun and there are plans to build on the work that’s already been achieved in supporting food and drink manufacturers in the East Midlands.

The Food and Drink iNet is managed by a consortium, led by the Food & Drink Forum and including Food Processing Faraday, Nottingham Trent University, the University of Lincoln, and the University of Nottingham. It is based at Southglade Food Park, Nottingham, with advisors covering the East Midlands region.

For more information visit

Monday, 5 July 2010

New director for Nottingham architects and building surveyors Church Lukas

Nottingham architects and building surveyors Church Lukas have strengthened their team with the appointment of a new director.

John Freeman, a chartered architect, brings extensive expertise in the retail, leisure and office sectors, as well as specialist knowledge of strategic facilities management gained as part of an MBA programme. His appointment has been made to help Church Lukas build on its reputation as an award-winning practice.

John, who was previously a director at Stockton-on-Tees architects Listers, joins fellow directors Sue Churchill, Chris Mahony and Andrew Roberts at the Victoria Street offices of Church Lukas, which has been established since 1993 and offers a nationwide service.

“Church Lukas is renowned for its regeneration projects, which have historically been residential-led,” said director Sue Churchill. “We recognised that the retail element of our mixed-use schemes was having a far greater influence on the viability of our projects and knew that being able to offer specialist design skills in this area would be beneficial to both the practice and our clients. John’s expertise in the retail sector, along with his knowledge of property asset management will complement our senior management team.”

His strategic facilities management knowledge is seen as increasingly important, as all businesses respond to the current economic situation and consider efficiencies in their property portfolios.

Chris Mahony, Director of Building Consultancy at Church Lukas, welcomed John’s appointment saying: “We live in a changing world and more and more firms are looking to make the most of their assets, whether by occupying smaller space to reduce running costs or through partial disposal. We are also starting to see far greater awareness of the impact of both rising energy costs and carbon trading following the introduction of the Carbon Reduction Commitment Energy Efficiency Scheme and John’s expertise in these areas will be invaluable. His passion for reducing carbon matches our aim to be a national leader for low carbon buildings in both building surveying and architecture.”

Andrew Roberts added: “John has the very rare ability to be creative, commercial and compliant. He is perfectly positioned to help us expand and deliver our low carbon projects. We are very fortunate to have him join us.”

John began his career as an apprentice joiner with a building contractor near Barnsley before training as an architect at Birmingham School of Architecture. He went on to study for a diploma at the University of Sheffield, while at the same time working for a number of Sheffield practices. He later undertook a training course at Huddersfield University which paved the way to him lecturing at universities in Sheffield and Huddersfield.

John started his professional career in the property department of a major national bank before moving to private practice and specialising in large scale commercial projects.

“Church Lukas is a forward-looking, entrepreneurial practice that has prepared itself for a new economy and is already reaping the rewards. I am excited by the projects that are on the drawing board,” he said.

Since launching 17 years ago, Church Lukas has seen a significant change in its projects, now having a major involvement in research and development for industry-changing housing initiatives alongside its core commercial sectors.

Pictured left to right, Church Lukas directors John Freeman, Andrew Roberts, Chris Mahony and Sue Churchill.