Fudge Kitchen will catapult the wholesale and export divisions of its gourmet artisan business this year – while still making fudge by hand.
The company, which stocks Selfridges and Lakeland among others, opened a production facility in Kent last year.
Although it has been a learning curve to produce the handmade product on mass, it looks set to continue to reap rewards for the company.
Fudge used to be made on the premises of two shops, but its production facility has increased efficiency. The recipe has been amended to lengthen the shelf life of the product.
Sian Holt, MD, told FoodProductionDaily.com the process is labour intensive but it makes everything by hand.
“We still produce 10kg batches, just more batches,” she said. "For every person making fudge, three more are required on the post process line for cutting up, decorating, packaging, and distributing.
“We produce around 20 10kg batches a day. We’ve got to that point, having doubled capacity over the last year, and turnover alongside it.
“We make our processes as efficient as possible, handmade, but with a clear idea how long everything should take, production through to dispatch.”
Longer shelf life
A couple of years ago Holt realized it needed a production facility to grow.
“We operated in historic cities out of listed buildings,” she said. “At the peak of 2012 we were trying to load pallets on cobbled streets in pouring rain and realized we had to set up a stand-alone facility.”
While the shops make fudge using whipped cream, the production facility uses butter to give its Devilishly Different Gourmet Butter Fudge a longer shelf life of six months, suitable for wholesale and exports.
Holt says packaging has been designed to boost fudge – often seen as the poor cousin of chocolate – to a premium gourmet position.
“In terms of the gift food market, the packaging is equally important,” she said. “When it comes to designers you have to find someone who understands the absolute heart and essence of your brand. With us, we’re premium, handmade, but also a bit quirky.
“All of those things have to come out in the packaging and we need to be very different. We’re delighted with the packaging we’ve come up with.”
Fudge Kitchen started as Jim Garrahy’s Fudge Kitchen in Blackpool in 1983. In 1995, it was bought by Holt who expanded into shops in Bath, York, Cambridge, Canterbury, Windsor, Edinburgh, Ripon and Oxford.