The Fruity Kitchen Increase Jam & Preserves Output With New Filling Line- May 24th 2021
Produced in small batches to traditional methods, The Fruity Kitchen creates a wonderful range of quality jams, chutneys, marmalade and jellies, alongside various bespoke lines produced for private customers. Whether supplying an own label breakfast jar in a small hotel or the first-class luxury travel market, the Fruity Kitchen ensures the same level of passion goes into each and every jar.
After meeting at University in 1993, Paula and Jon Briscoe set about their careers with a dream of opening their own business in the food and drink sector. By 2005 their dream had become a reality. The pair opened three pub restaurants in the South East including their flagship site The Jolly Farmers, the multi award-winning pub, eatery, and farm shop in Reigate, renowned as the UK’s first pub, eatery, and fully integrated farm shop concept.
A year later, in 2006 Paula and Jon launched an initiative to reduce waste and encourage enterprise. Their “cash-4-crops scheme” was launched to encourage customers to bring in their excess home-grown fruit and vegetables in exchange for vouchers to use within their establishments.
It was the abundance of apples collected through the scheme that kick-started Paula’s passion to experiment with making jellies. Before long, the very first of the Briscoe’s Jellies appeared on their menus; chilli was the first, but soon more flavours were added as the range developed. All tested on their menus and sold within their own farm shop.
In 2015, the Briscoe’s sold their pubs and set their minds on developing their handmade jellies. They now sell to numerous farm shops, delis, garden centres, café’s, shops, hotels across the UK as well as supply for hampers. Their range is always expanding, and they also offer bespoke own label service or personalised wedding favours and gifts.
Looking for a way to produce their artisan jellies on a larger scale, Jon initially considered setting up a new production facility, but when an established business, The Fruity Kitchen came up for sale, this seemed a better solution and in 2018 they completed the purchase.
After nearly 2 years of rationalising the existing business and introducing their range of Artisan Jellies into The Fruity Kitchen, Jon was ready to start the process of carefully automating some of the processes. He was successful in his application for a Rural Development for England Growth grant in February 2020, just as the Covid pandemic hit during March.
With the majority of their customers being either food service, bed and breakfast establishments or train services, their market was cut to near zero overnight. Thankfully, the government support schemes enabled Jon valuable time to re-evaluate the business. Sure enough, with a switch of focus new customers began coming on board and they were soon back in production. Despite the difficulties, Jon and Paula decided to continue their growth project by improving their mixing and filling processes to increase production efficiency.
Starting with a Series 3 semi-automatic depositor from Riggs Autopack, this proved to be a far more reliable and effective way of filling their jars compared to an existing basic depositor they had been using. This high-quality depositor provides damage free depositing of hot jams, jellies, chutney, and relish, and accurately fills most types of container.
Within a short time, business started to grow and with the promise of new larger orders on the way, the next level of automation was required. Jon and Paula still needed an artisan method of making their jams and jellies but required an automated method of packing their products to meet demand. Following discussions with Riggs Autopack, they purchased a fully automated twin head filling machine with conveyor and gating system to fill 2 containers each time.
It was important to Paula and Jon that Riggs Autopack was an established British machine manufacturer, with both design and build of the equipment taking place at their Lancashire factory. Being a small artisan producer, the support of experienced sales and service staff from Riggs Autopack meant they were quickly up and running with larger batches than they had ever achieved before.
Buying British and buying local is a philosophy Jon and Paula adhere to wherever possible, and not just with processing equipment; many of the ingredients are supplied from local Yorkshire farms. The Fruity Kitchen really is an example of great products thriving during the most difficult of times.
Jon Briscoe commented: “This year has been unprecedented in so many respects with the impact of the pandemic being felt throughout the world. We certainly didn’t expect to face such situations some 14 months into a new business venture, but our experience of operating in the face of economic uncertainty at various times over the past 15 years certainly assisted in our drive and determination to continue with our business & growth plan".
"The introduction of Riggs Autopack equipment to assist in moving from purely manual filling to one of automation was core to this plan. By delivering greater efficiencies and improved workflow we are now able to take on larger projects previously out of reach. There is no doubt we are delighted with the results and are able to confidently begin to lift our heads once more and look towards our longer terms objectives”.