3 June 2021
When we buy British, everything we do - from purchasing local-based produce, to combining these into satisfying and tasty meals; is beneficial for the British food industry as a whole.
With a ‘Buy British’ campaign from McCain Foodservice Solutions, we thought now was a great time to highlight why backing the British food industry is a great idea.
McCain’s British heritage dates back to their arrival in Scarborough back in 1968 and no has five manufacturing sites across the UK. The company works alongside 250 Red Tractor-assured UK potato farmers and growers to ensure kitchens everywhere are well-stocked with high-quality produce.
Offering British produce has many merits including:
Customers want it
Foodservice is driven by customer demand, and from a recent study, McCain revealed that 60% of consumers said they find British produce to be more appealing now than prior to the COVID-19 outbreak.
A further 31% of survey respondents said they would now pay more for ingredients from their local area, with 28% being willing to pay more for British produce.
Highlighting ‘trust’ as one of the strongest factors for consumers today – and in the future – these findings show just how important a role chefs play in consumers’ choices. It isn’t just about making delicious meals but ensuring what goes into them is top quality too.
It instils trust
McCain has found that fries and sides are often the first go-to taste of the meal for consumers, so it’s important they impress when they’re placed in front of diners.
We know that British food instils trust, but it has to be cooked well too and displayed in a tantalising way. Consumers’ expectations are going to be high – especially after an extended break from their usual establishments – so now would be your chance to get it right the first time.
Collaborating with consumer research specialists (Catalyx) McCain UK discovered that customers experience a heightened state of emotion while waiting for their food to reach their table and if the food isn’t up to scratch, this severely heightens the disappointment.
McCain found it to be essential that customers are pleased with the contents of their meal and delivery service. Being ‘hangry’ and disappointed, they found, can cause a knee-jerk reaction to a negative review or complaint online.
Reduces carbon footprint
As British food doesn’t travel as far it has a lower carbon footprint than most foods that are imported, highlights LoveBritishFood.
Meat produced in Britain is also made to some of the highest welfare standards globally, which means you’ll be doing good in all kinds of ways.
Supports the economy
When you buy British you’re not just supporting the farmers you’re buying the produce from, you are also supporting the economy as a whole.
You’ll have the assurance of knowing what you’re buying – and cooking – and your customers will have that same assurance when enjoying their favourite meals.
5 May 2021
We are proud to have become a member of the Cleaning and Hygiene Suppliers Association. As a member of the Accreditation Scheme for Distributors we offer our customers only those products accredited by the Scheme for Manufacturers of cleaning and hygiene chemicals, paper-based and woven products, plastic-based products and cotton-based products, or those that conform to the relevant standards. You can view our full range of cleaning and hygiene products online. Log in to your account here.
29 March 2021
We are delighted to have added personal protective equipment (PPE) to our range, and be an accredited supplier, having clinched a share of a Welsh Government contract to supply care homes with protective equipment and cleaning materials.
Our Commercial Director Mark Lawton said: “This does represent a diversification for us but it makes very good sense because we already supply lots of care homes and care organisations with a range of food.
“We have now added PPE and a range of cleaning materials to the menu of products we provide and it makes good sense for a care home to deal with one supplier rather than several. We can guarantee security of supply which is absolutely vital, especially when care home staff are guarding their vulnerable residents’ lives against Covid. It’s also important that they know their supplier’s products are subject to stringent testing and has the correct certification as a recognised supplier.”
Among the increasing number of care organisations we supply is the Pendine Park which employs over 800 staff at homes in Wrexham and Caernarfon. It is headed by Mario Kreft MBE, who is also chairman of Care Forum Wales which represents over 500 private care organisations across Wales.
Pendine Park Safety Officer Kevin Jones said: “We’re delighted with the service we get from Harlech because they provide us with what we need when we need it. This is literally a matter of life and death for us, not just for our clients but also for the carers and for the wider community because most of our staff are on the care side. We see ourselves as a part of that community because it’s not just about our employees but also about their families and friends and the wider public and we have a duty to keep them all safe.”
Mark Lawton added: “We are a North Wales company and very much part of the local community and we also offer a bilingual service which is important in an area like this so that orders can be taken in Welsh. Winning a contract like this enables us to provide vital employment at a time when the pandemic is having a drastic effect and it helps to ensure that some of the most vulnerable in society and their dedicated carers are being well looked after.”
15 March 2021
Here at Harlech Foodservice we understand that Mental Health is a huge part of wellbeing and it’s crucial our employees have a support mechanism available to them. Having invested in employees on site, three of our colleagues have recently completed the Adult Mental Health First Aid (Wales) Course enabling safe, confidential on or off-site support across the business. Pictured are Katie Benton-Hughes and Mags Evans who kindly volunteered to step up and complete the course to help others.
15 February 2021
A food company has hired a team of head-hunters to recruit six key staff to turbo-charge ambitious expansion plans.
Harlech Foodservice, based in Criccieth and Chester, wants to strengthen the management team, to increase turnover to more than £50 million over the next three years.
Part of the strategy includes finding bigger premises in the Chester area as a staging post for further growth in the North West. Managing director David Cattrall wants the new members of the team to be in place in readiness for when the tourism and hospitality industry starts to reopen when Covid lockdown restrictions are eased.
When that happens Harlech plans to start delivering seven days a week with the introduction of a new Sunday service.
Mr Cattrall, who previously worked in a high-powered role with Booker Wholesale, has embarked on a major restructuring of the company since he was appointed last year.
He said the introduction of “transparent and competitive” pricing on a range of core products had proved popular.
Meanwhile, online sales quadrupled after the website was upgraded and a new app was launched, allied to extending the order window to 10pm. According to Mr Cattrall, the quintet of new appointments were the next step on the journey to drive up turnover and profits.
Among the personnel they want to recruit are a head of purchasing based in Chester, a key account manager for health, care and education, operation managers for the warehouse and butchery in Criccieth, along with a new shift manager for the butchery.
Mr Cattrall said: “To support our growth we have appointed Zachary Daniels Recruitment because it is vitally important that we find the right people for these key roles.
"It might appear counter-intuitive to be recruiting people in the middle of a pandemic but we are essentially investing in future expansion.
“We may not have the same pattern initially but I'm expecting Spring/Summer to probably give us our 2019 business back and provide a springboard for growth.
“We want to continue to look after our customers in our North Wales heartland who helped create Harlech Foodservice.
“We have also seen strong growth in the North West of England and North East Wales through companies like Hickory’s Smokehouse, Frederic Robinson pubs and Denbighshire schools.
“As a result, we are currently looking to add a new full service depot in that area as our Gwynedd base is approaching capacity.
“It’s come about because of our improved core range, transparent and competitive prices, backed up by providing exceptional service.
“We have been working hard through lockdown to ensure we offer an excellent choice of quality products that meet our customer requirements.
“Our core range has an excellent choice of own-label Fairway products and well known foodservice brands.
“For example, in 2019 we introduced Brongain Farm beef to our butchery offer. Based in the heart of mid Wales. it produces up to 1,000 grass and grain fed Aberdeen Angus cattle a year.
“Developing a sustainable system of beef production is one of their top priorities and this is why they have established Brongain Farm as a research unit and a centre of excellence.
“Following the growth in our care home business we have strengthened our range of specialist meals for our clients in the social care sector, including ones for people who have difficulty swallowing.
“We now benchmark against national foodservice companies to ensure we always offer great value to our customers.“We have also introduced ‘Save by the Case’ so customers can get better prices when buying a whole case of our best-selling lines.
“This year we are introducing a new quality assurance policy. For example, scooping ice cream is a massive sector for Harlech and our customers told us they want certainty their fragile cones arrive unbroken.
“In March we will launch Quality Assurance for Cones with a no quibble guarantee to replace cases for free within 24 hours.“We asked our customers how we could improve our service even further and the biggest request was for Sunday deliveries during the Spring/Summer season.
“We currently provide deliveries six days a week and from April to September we will be offering a Sunday service to our busiest customers to help them manage their busy and unpredictable weekends.
“I am confident there is a lot of pent up demand out there and, with the help of our new high level recruits, we are going to be ready, willing and able to meet that demand so we can fulfil our ambition to be a £50 million company.”
Nutritional information on over 20,000 foodservice product lines. Click image to view video
While the new legislation aims to help consumers and the general public gain a better understanding of the content of the food that they eat; we understand that it is a challenge for businesses throughout the catering and foodservice industry to meet the requirements. Erudus provides caterers with comprehensive nutritional breakdowns, dietary advice and allergen information on over 20,000 products that caterers are purchasing through one data source. It aims to make it easier for caterers to access the information they will need to provide to their customers. Great news for Harlech customers; we are able to offer you this data source completely FREE of charge, email [email protected] for more information and get you started.
5 February 2021
A North Wales food wholesaler is ramping up aid to struggling families with three mercy missions a week.
Harlech Foodservice have sent 10 truckloads of supplies worth £60,000, including bread, eggs and dairy products and even salmon and steak.
Their latest drops to food banks across North Wales and in Cheshire and Shropshire include 180 boxes of bread, over 10,000 eggs, 79 trays of yoghurts and 98 catering-size cooking sauces as well as bread roll and sponge cake mix.
If it’s not quite feeding the 5,000, it’s not far short after the expanding company, whose customers include schools, pubs, restaurants and care homes, was left with a warehouse full of fresh, frozen, chilled, tinned and non-perishable goods at their headquarters near Criccieth.
Ten of the company’s fleet of delivery trucks are now busy keeping food banks stocked up including at Pwllheli, Colwyn Bay, Northwich and Winsford in Cheshire and Telford and Newport in Shropshire.
Harlech’s Digital Project Manager Ceri Brown works with the team to coordinate the supply chain and she said: “Lockdowns have of course resulted in excess stock with last minute Government decisions resulting in additional wasted stock bought in to satisfy school contracts.
“We had to be prepared for the new school term in January but of course when schools were closed we were left with a huge amount of food which we needed to use.
“We are working closely with some incredible organisations to help people hit hardest by the pandemic and we wanted to share it out across our area of operation.
“As the lockdowns continue, it’s a real struggle for our purchasing team managing stock levels, ensuring we have enough stock to meet demand for those customers that are open, but not over buying.”
Among those they supply is the Telford Food Share Project in Shropshire where project founder Lea Beven said: “We’re really grateful to Harlech who make such a huge contribution to our efforts.
“We are subsidising between 100 and 200 families a day. Not all of them are in absolute crisis but many are struggling and would not be able to make ends meet without us.
“Without us the town just wouldn’t manage. It’s been absolutely vital that we are here because there’s no let up at all now that we are in the middle of winter.”
Over the last two weeks Harlech Foodservice have delivered eight trucks of food to various food projects across North Wales, the North West and Shropshire as the lockdown restrictions continue to have a huge impact across wholesale businesses. Last minute decisions from the Government surrounding the re opening of schools meant stock had already been bought in to satisfy contracts, only for schools not to be permitted to reopen.
Work continues with the foodbanks, such as Food Share UK and Cheshire Food Hub, who undertake some really incredible work in their communities and it’s crucial this work is supported and continues to help those in need.
11 January 2021
A local business has made a generous food bank donation to a Northwich food hub.
Taking inspiration from footballer Marcus Rashford, Harlech Foodservices, a wholesaler with a base in Chester, dropped off a haul of provisions at the Cheshire Food Hub in Northwich.
The Food Hub serves food banks across the county from Chester to Macclesfield.
The donation included 80 bumper boxes of 96 Weetabix, enough for several thousands of breakfasts, 63 packets of Chilli Con Carne sauce, over £200 worth of bread roll mix, hot chocolate, and other non-perishable items.
Last month, CheshireLive reported that reliance on food banks had soared across Cheshire during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Jo Garner, of the charity Changing Lives Together, which co-ordinates the Food Hub, said: "We're really grateful to Harlech because we realised there was going to be a huge demand for food banks across the county.
"During the summer we were feeding about 5,000 children with food boxes, mainly in Cheshire West but we've now moved to a bigger long-term base in Northwich which means we can look to buy in bulk and take donations of food from many sources.
"We can then ship it out to food banks from Chester in the west to Macclesfield in the east of the county and altogether we supply over 20 food banks in the sort of quantities they can use.
"It is quite a logistical exercise and we are looking for more vehicles before for the fleet of vans we run because demand is growing at a faster rate than we had expected.
"We're now packing the Christmas boxes and we plan to do between two and three thousand of them while pin-pointing those who are in most desperate need so we can ship them out in the week before Christmas.
"That's where items like Weetabix family packs donated by Harlech will be going."
The delivery was organised by Ceri Brown, Harlech Foodservices Digital Project Manager, who said: "We have often donated to food banks but with the pandemic the need is so great and inspired by Marcus Rashford we wanted to do more.
"The effect of the recent lockdown was to leave us with plenty of stock so we have made arrangements and delivered to the Cheshire Food Hub at Northwich.
"There they were providing 1,000 Christmas boxes but with lockdown in England, that has now gone up to 10,000 and with our new depot in Chester we are hoping to help out a lot more in that area.
"We'd like to work with more food banks across our area of operation across North and Mid Wales and into Shropshire and the North West but we feel this was a good start and maintains our relationship with these three.
"But it is an ongoing project because a lot of people out there are facing really tough times and we'd like to carry on doing our bit to help them."
Jo Garner added: "The idea of the food hub is that we take the pressure off the individual food banks who are busy enough without having to manage deliveries from various sources so instead we can co-ordinate them from here.
"But things are starting to go through the roof now with the number of referrals to food banks twice as high in November as they were in October so the plan is for us to supplement the food they already have.
"We can act as storage for them and I see myself as the facilitator making sure the supplies get out to the food banks who are on the front line.
"We can identify things that have a short shelf life and get them out as quickly as possible and if things are going to waste then we can pass them on quickly.
"At the same time we are trying to carry out a survey to find how many people the food banks are supporting and how they have arrived there because these food banks are all run by volunteers and they are exhausted."
Jo volunteered herself because she wanted to help out in rural areas where there is an often unseen need for food banks.
She said: "Changing Lives Together is good at logistics and the food has to come in and then it's got to go out.
"That's especially true as next year look as if it's going to be catastrophic.
"It was busy in April but it's going through the roof now.
"It's not just about Christmas, it's about January and beyond. It's going to be critical because there's a huge upsurge in the numbers of people coming into food banks."
25 November 2020
Welsh beef is on the menu for pupils across Denbighshire now a leading North Wales food distribution company has won the contract to supply over a million school meals a year for the county.
Harlech Foodservice won the three-year contract from a US-owned multi-national and have pledged that wherever possible the county’s seven secondary and 48 primary schools will receive food sourced in North Wales.
Harlech commercial director Mark Lawton said: “This is a hugely important contract for us to win against competition from one of the biggest wholesalers in the UK. “It shows we have the quality and the capacity to supply and deliver high quality food, including beef sourced from farms in North and Mid Wales, for well over a million meals a year. .
“Pupils in Denbighshire eat 7,500 meals a day and each week the head cooks in each of the 55 schools in Denbighshire place their orders for some 35,000 meals and we have the capacity to guarantee delivery for that through our fleet of lorries and vans. “It extends the service we provide for schools in North Wales where we already supply similar numbers of school meals for Gwynedd and Conwy which makes for over 100,000 school meals a month.” .
Cllr Huw Hilditch-Roberts, Denbighshire County Council’s Lead Member for Education, Children’s Services and Public Engagement, said: “We’re very pleased to have been able to award this contract to a North Wales company because it is important that we support the regional economy wherever possible. “Ensuring pupils at Denbighshire schools get healthy, varied and nutritious meals to improve learning and development is a priority for the council and this partnership helps ensure our School Meals Service can provide that. .
“We know that the majority of their meat comes from their own farms and is prepared by their own butchers and that is another box we can tick. “The contract has started and is going very well and Harlech have gone out of their way to adapt their systems to match with ours and it’s good to know there is always someone on the end of the phone we can speak to. “All the schools operate the same menu for the week and Harlech have that as well but it is still the head cook who orders for each school.” Ysgol Brynhyfryd head cook Louise Roberts places her orders twice a week and she said: “It works really well and the people we deal with at Harlech are very friendly and helpful.” Harlech Foodservices bid for the contract through their membership of TUCO – The University Caterers Organisation – a framework which qualifies businesses to provide catering services for the public sector. .
They have bases at Criccieth, Gwynedd, and Chester and between the two locations, the company employs around 200 staff. Mark Lawton added: “We are a North Wales company and we believe it is important that we supply schools in North Wales with food from North Wales to support the local community and we also offer a bilingual service which is important in an area like this so that orders can be taken in Welsh. “Winning a contract like this enables us to provide vital employment at a time when the pandemic is having a drastic effect on the hospitality trade.” .
7 October 2020
A food distribution company has clinched a £3.5 million a year deal to supply fast-growing US-style BBQ restaurant chain Hickory’s Smokehouse with a sizzling selection of beef, pork and chicken.
The announcement comes hot on the heels of news that Harlech Foodservice, based in Criccieth, in Gwynedd, and Chester, had created 16 new jobs after achieving record sales over the summer.
Hickory’s, who have 11 outlets including their newest right on the River Severn at Shrewsbury, have successfully brought the taste of America’s Deep South to diners from Southport to Worcester.
Harlech Foodservice are now helping them do that by delivering the meat for their burgers, pork ribs, chicken wings, butt steaks and brisket, including over a ton of beef every month.
Since lockdown ended in July, 1,000 diners have celebrated Saturdays at each of the Hickory’s restaurants.
The company opened their first restaurant alongside the River Dee at Chester in 2010 and who now employ 871 staff, 70 of them at Shrewsbury, including 363 trained BBQ chefs.
Appropriately, they re-opened on the Fourth of July, American Independence Day, and the Government’s Eat Out to Help Out also gave them a boost and so has the style of their premises, according to Executive Chef Director Rob Bacon, who helped set up Hickory’s in Chester 10 years ago.
He said: “We have been looking for a supplier to help us grow the business and Harlech Foodservices have been on our radar for a while and they fitted the bill because we need the right quality of meat and Harlech can supply that.
“They can also take orders late at night and it will be here at our restaurant, whether it’s in Southport, Worcester or Rhos on Sea, at 10am the next morning with the right product at the right quality.
“We cook our beef brisket for 14 hours in the smoker so the beef needs to be grain-fed rather than grass-fed because the meat will stay moist and tender rather than drying out.”
Mark Lawton, Commercial Director of Harlech Foodservice, said: “Hickory’s are a fantastic brand and they’ve done a lot of work to get their offer just right and it’s paying off for them.
“Part of that is making sure they have the right meat when and where they need it and we have the capacity to guarantee that. We’ve got the size and scale to deliver six days a week and cater for late ordering using our online ordering and app.
“They have struck a chord with their customers and that’s shown by their success but they don’t compromise on quality and their approach to doing what they do is very thorough and professional.”
Rob Bacon, a trained chef who spent years in high end restaurants in North Wales and the North West including St David’s Park Hotel in Ewloe, added: “We have done a lot of research and made many visits to America and spoken to their top pitmasters, the best BBQ chefs in the world.
“They’ve been really helpful, especially when they realised we were from the UK, and given us plenty of advice on how to make this a really authentic experience.
“We cook just about everything on the premises and we even make our own coleslaw and we have our own secret Magic Dust we have developed to sprinkle on our meat.
“I know when we opened our first restaurant 10 years ago we were expecting about 70 or 80 covers but we had over 300 and had to shut the restaurant early because we’d run out of food and the same thing happened the next night.
“This year we actually locked down before the Government announcement but we kept our staff busy and we maintained our involvement with the local community which is very important to us.
“We’ve raised over £190,000 for the Cash for Kids charity and provided meals for vulnerable families from our restaurants in Chester and Poynton which has kept out teams involved during lockdown.
“But if you had wanted to design a restaurant best suited to the current crisis then ours pretty much fit the bill – they are large and spacious and they all have outdoor areas.
“So a lot has gone for us but we have also taken the anti-covid measures very seriously so that we have closed the kids’ cinemas we have in every restaurant and observed all the regulations and recommendations to keep our staff and customers safe.”
For more on Hickory’s go to hickorys.co.uk