Two Welsh artisan food businesses are collaborating to create new opportunities for their products and increase the health benefits for their customer, according to the Welsh government.
Brecon-based company Cradoc’s Savoury Biscuits is using rapeseed oil produced by Pembrokeshire Gold in Manorbier as part of a drive to lower the saturated fat content of its crackers. As a producer, Cradoc’s recipes are packed with wheat, oats, fresh vegetables and fruits, seeds, herbs and spices.
Allie Thomas, who founded the bakery 12 years ago with her daughter Ella, was looking for an alternative to butter that would align with Welsh Government health and wellbeing strategies and increase the premiumisation of Cradoc’s range.
The company is a member of the Fine Food Cluster Initiative which is designed to foster connections between businesses in the sector and also offers members the opportunity to receive business advice, attend events and network with other Welsh companies.
“As members of the Food & Drink Wales Fine Food Cluster, we have attended a set of category insight programmes on creating healthier foods, and where there is the opportunity to increase new product development,” explained Allie Thomas. “We began looking at how we could tweak our biscuit recipes to replace butter, high in saturated fat, with healthier beneficial alternatives.
“We were introduced by fellow Fine Food Cluster member Pembrokeshire Chilli Farm, who grow the chillis that Pembrokeshire Gold use in their delicious chilli oil. Harry at Pembrokeshire Gold sent us some samples, and the colour and flavour of the oil were beautiful. Also, cold pressed rapeseed is high in Omega 3 and 6, high phenolic compounds and vitamin E; it has amazing health benefits equal to olive oil, and it can stand the heat of baking – so we decided to switch up 20% of our current rapeseed ingredient to Pembrokeshire Gold cold pressed product.”
“Meeting Allie and the Cradoc’s team has been great, and it’s wonderful to be able to supply our oil as a raw material to another Welsh business,” added Harry Thomas of Pembrokeshire Gold.
Harry is the third generation of his family to run Park Farm where, in addition to oilseed rape, he grows wheat, barley and beans. In 2021 an on-farm crushing facility was created to produce Pembrokeshire Gold Extra Virgin Cold Pressed Rapseed Oil.
The collaboration has been welcomed by the Welsh Government’s Rural Affairs Minister, Lesley Griffiths who commented: “The Food & Drink Wales cluster groups were created to encourage and facilitate collaboration and cooperation between Welsh food and drink enterprises.
“It’s great to see Cradoc’s Savoury Biscuits and Pembrokeshire Gold working together. This is yet another successful alliance achieved through cluster membership which is to the benefit of both producers, customers and environmental sustainability.”
“Pembrokeshire Gold’s Welsh cold pressed rapeseed oil and infused oils are truly field to fork – and we are the only company in Wales that grow, harvest, press and bottle on farm. This puts sustainable production at the heart of Pembrokeshire Gold’ with a passion for the environment on our carbon-negative family farm. In a further commitment to the environment, we also choose not to use any single-use plastic in our packaging,” said Harry.
Since its launch, Pembrokeshire Gold has received business support from Cywain and the Fine Food Cluster, and has also attended events such as last year’s Royal Welsh Show and more recently the Farm Shop & Deli Show at the NEC in Birmingham.
Cradoc’s, meanwhile, has grown from a kitchen tabletop enterprise to an award-winning company which exports to a number of countries including the US, Italy, Ireland, Qatar, Spain and the UAE.
“The catalyst was cheese. We are crazy for cheese in our family, but the biscuits were not good enough. We were eating artisan cheese with mass-produced crackers, and we thought it would be better to have Welsh biscuits made with care and local ingredients,” said Allie.
The company now employs an eight-strong baking team – including apprentices – at its SALSA-accredited bakery, with plans to shortly take over an adjoining unit to produce gluten-free products.
But the connection with Pembrokeshire Gold is not limited to oil, as Allie is looking into the possibility of incorporating the rapeseed itself into Cradoc’s Crackers.
“When we were both at the Farm Shop & Deli and Food & Drink Expo in Birmingham, Pembrokeshire Gold had some of the seeds used to produce the oil. The mash is usually a by-product fed to livestock, but it has flavour and fibre, and I want to test it to see if it can be used in biscuits to increase mineral content and reduce waste,” she added.
“The Fine Food Cluster was established to support Welsh Food and Drink Producers through collaboration and knowledge sharing. To see our cluster members working together to enhance their businesses is fantastic, and we couldn’t be more pleased to support Pembrokeshire Gold and Cradoc’s and their amazing products,” concluded Kate Rees, South Wales Fine Food Development Manager.
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