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18
Jun
2009

The journey from Chocolate to Soft Drinks

by Claire Martinsen on Thu 18th Jun 2009 05:08

Breckland Orchard Claire Wilf and AliceA conscious decision to abandon my long commute to work in order to spend more time with my two little ones – resulted in a ‘what now’ moment!  I had spent 12 happy years in Mars in a sales/marketing role, and had always loved the food industry.  Having the children had brought back real memories of my own childhood and one memory that stuck out was enjoying granny’s wonderful lemonade in the garden.  It was a lovely home-made taste and we just used to love it.  Time to go back to the recipe books.  Granny was a great fruit grower, and used to make the most wonderful combinations – all fresh, delicious and natural. Plump blackcurrants, the reddest raspberries, rosehips from the hedgerows and zesty lemons.  This was my inspiration.

I also wanted my drinks to be local – I’m a great believer in local economies.  So I set about finding a local bottler, who could bottle the drinks and add a gentle sparkle.  After much phoning I found the perfect partner – small, local and with similar values.  I also found a wonderful specialist in soft drinks, who could take granny’s recipes and work with me to make them perfect when bottled.  It was finding these two wonderful individuals that was the key catalyst from turning Breckland Orchard from an idea on paper to an actual product.  Their help, support and expertise was completely invaluable.

Our local Food Marketing support here in Norfolk is ‘Taste of Anglia’ and every year they have a food festival showcasing local products in Chilford Hall, Cambridgeshire.  The show took place 5-7 March 2009.  With some trepidation I booked a stand early in January, not being 100% sure that I would be able to get the first production run completed by then.  What it did mean was there was a hard and fast line in the sand of when we had to be ready for launch – things became even more frenetic – labels to be designed, trading standards, labelling regulations, environmental health, insurance, brand name, recipe finalisation, machinery parts etc…….and probably a thousand other things that have receeded back into the memory now!

Did we get to the show?  Yes, with inches to spare! We won best dressed stand which was a bonus, but I was just so proud to see Breckland Orchard finally come to life. It made all the hard work and endless telephone calls over the previous months worth it.

So how was the transition from chocolate bars to soft drinks?  Hairy, scary, exciting, exillerating, wonderful, nerve-racking and all the sensations in between…but I honestly wouldn’t have it any other way.

What were the factors that really made it come alive?  On reflections two things…..firstly having the right team around me [I couldn’t have done it without them] and secondly having a steely determination to succeed….I was so passionate about the product that I knew it just had to happen.

Its been a wonderful journey so far!

x

Posted in: About Me Starting out

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