Artisan producers from across North Wales are celebrating after landing a deal to supply a luxury hamper company taking on Harrods and Fortnum and Mason.
Apples from Anglesey, honey from hives on the Clwydian Range, fruits from orchards in Flintshire and Wrexham, Gwynedd-made sweets and coffee roasted in Llandudno are among the goodies packed inside Bodnant Welsh Food Centre’s £250 hamper of Welsh produce.
The wicker baskets, which also feature Bodnant cheese, pies and pates, sparkling wine, brandy, whiskey, chocolate and biscuits, are proving popular for those searching for a taste of North Wales.
They have already been snapped up by companies as Christmas gifts, plus Welsh expats across the UK and food lovers seeking a festive treat.
One of the producers is Brian Dacre of Celtic Woodsmith of Penymynydd and Nantclwyd near Ruthin, whose honey-based conserves are also on sale at Bodnant Welsh Food Centre’s farm shop in the Conwy valley.
“This is a great way to get our produce known to a wider audience. To be included in such a prestigious hamper is a real boost to a small business like ours,” said Brian, who set up his business with wife Vivienne after working as a cabinet maker for Parker Knoll and G Plan, and then re-training as a molecular biologist researching DNA.
“We are very much a family business, collecting the honey from our hives across the Clwydian Range – we bottle about 500lb of honey a month, plus we also make preserves with it, like the strawberry one that’s in the Bodnant hamper. My favourite, though, is the lemon and lime marmalade.”
For Tara and Malcom Klose, who run now Heartland Coffi from their roasting base in Llandudno, the luxury hampers are a chance to show off their produce.
“We are very proud to be suppliers to Bodnant. We now supply a number of delis and cafes in North Wales, and in London through our other company in the capital, but getting to work with such a well-respected name as Bodnant been a real achievement,” said Tara, who set up the coffee roasting business with her husband after the couple moved to the UK from their native New Zealand.
Nick Lipson of Treflach, on the border near Wrexham, is supplying jewelled fruits in Madeira and a summer berry coulis.
“This is an excellent way for us as a business to reach more people. There is a real, growing interest in locally produced foods, made with the best ingredients possible,” said Nick who uses family recipes in his preserves.
Other suppliers include Sue Cooper, who makes bottled juices from the 700-plus trees growing in her orchards, containing 25 varieties, at Dwyran, Anglesey. Fudges and vanilla sauces in the Bodnant hamper come from Eboni ac Eifori of Pwllheli, set up by Matthew Robertson, who now also employs his parents Andrew and Linda plus brother Ben in the business.
Lime and lemon curd created by Flintshire Food Award winner Brian Horwich of Pant Glas Bach Preserves at Axton, near Llanasa, is also in the hamper, along with the shell-shaped Aberffraw Biscuits, baked by James Shepherd of Llansannan.
Bodnant Welsh Food Centre Managing Director Chris Morton believes that by challenging established suppliers with its own high quality packages they are enabling artisan food producers to reach a whole new group of discerning customers.
Bodnant Welsh Food, set in the beautiful Conwy Valley, is located in a building dating from the 18th century which has been lovingly restored and includes a farm shop, tea room, restaurant, cookery school and farmhouse accommodation.
The centre was officially opened by the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall in 2012.
Chris said: “I’m well aware that the hamper market is one which isn’t short of competition.
“In fact, it’s very hard-fought by the likes of Harrods, Fortnum & Mason and a whole wealth of other suppliers, including some very well-known farm shops.
“But as overcrowded as the market is, we do not believe that anyone at the moment is effectively promoting Welsh food in the form of hampers.
“Bodnant is in an area which is rich in artisan producers and we all deserve a share of the hamper market.
“We believe that we can help many of the producers who supply Bodnant to reach new customers through the development and growth of the hamper business.
“Our aim is to promote the best in Wales and we have been in contact with a number of our key suppliers and asked them to prepare unique products based on local Welsh produce which will enable us to sell the very best that is available throughout the UK.”
Bodnant Hampers range in price from £20 to over £250 and come in a wide range of presentations based on different themes, such as chocolate, champagne and chocolate, gourmet, lovers, Christmas and Easter.
The hampers also contain an assortment of products all hand crafted on site at Bodnant, either in the dairy, the bakery or the butchery.
Amongst the most popular of the hampers, which are available at the farm shop or online, is the Taste of Wales Hamper at £50, which includes such hand-made treats as elderflower cordial, Bodnant Lemon Curd, Bodnant Aberwen Cheese, apple blossom honey, Welsh teabags and Eboni ac Eifori Fudge.
For more information about Bodnant Welsh Food, go to www.bodnant-welshfood.co.uk/