Building an international food company up from scratch is a huge undertaking, and at Mackays we’re very proud to support the work of Jane Hasell-McCosh and her World Marmalade Awards in helping small artisan preserving companies get recognition. At Mackays we have grown through difficult times, faced many challenges while still upholding our core values.
At Mackays we strive to support our local community, the independent fruit growers of Scotland and England, while maintaining the best quality, the most vibrant and flavoursome marmalades and jams we can make.
That ain’t easy, I can tell you. So to any small artisan producers aiming to follow in our footsteps, we utterly respect the dedication and hard work you put into your company daily, often without a break, and we understand the effort it takes to win gold medals with your preserves while keeping your company afloat.
You inspire customers, and I believe some of you will be the stars that will make our British food industry strong in the future. At Mackays we hope to support you, so this year we’re proud to introduce The Mackays Award for Excellence, given in recognition of a winning preserve producer whose efforts in making and marketing their marmalades and preserves call out for special recognition.
We at Mackays recognise that a vibrant small preserving business needs more than just great “jam in a jar”. It’s about the relationship that producer has with trade customers and suppliers, the way the producer communicates through its packaging and promotion exactly what it values, and what it aims to deliver to the customer, the way the producer innovates and faces challenges, and discovers new ways to sell what they do.
In turn, we’re looking for companies the staff enjoy working at, and are fired up to succeed in a competitive UK market. We look at the flavour and texture of the marmalade, the bottling quality, the labelling, the marketing and the website, all the elements that are needed to help build a strong and successful marmalade brand.
We’re proud to announce that the winner of the 2017 Mackays Award for Excellence is…
The Proper Marmalade Company
* Gold winning this year for their Pink Grapefruit Marmalade, and Lemon & Lavender Marmalade.
* Excellent label design
* Inspired product line with “Improper Marmalade”, making morning preserves fun and enticing
* Excellent website
* Strong stockists list
* Consistent excellence from year to year
I’m very luck as my daughter does the packaging designs, the website and all the marketing side, while I look after the preserve inside of the jar. The packaging and the preserve inside does need to ‘mesh together’ when you’re selling marmalade.
I’ve opened a marmalade shop. It had been a home business and that’s daft, you end up living and breathing marmalade, it’s there when you go to bed, there when you wake up, you’re just permanently doing it. I’d been looking for premises and came across a little shop in a secondary position in Ilfracombe, by the sea, and when it opens – hopefully just after Easter – we’ll have everything on show for tasting, we’ll have five different marmalade ice-creams available made by a local artisan producer (who uses milk from her parent’s dairy farm), so it will become a ‘Marmalade Emporium’ in Ilfracombe by the sea, and we hope it will be quite a destination for tourists. Slowly but surely we’ll have “The Proper Marmalade Shop” established.
Quality is of the utmost importance to me. Our business stands or falls because of the quality of the preserve it contains. I put together perhaps 800-1000 jars a week, helped by Shirley and Justine who cut and shred the peel. I do the relatively easy part of mixing, boiling and bottling, but for all of us it’s fairly full-on work.
The most important advocate of our marmalade is a customer who’s enjoyed it. They’ll tell somebody else, or give it to somebody else as a present. And if they don’t enjoy your jar they’ll tell an awfully large number of people to avoid you. So you really do stand or fall by every jar you make.
What advice would I give to someone setting up a preserving business? Before you start, price your product and price your time, because you can always bring your price down but it’s not so easy to put it up. So in the pricing work out what it’s going to cost to send or deliver it, to get it to market, the cost of somebody else making it when you’re not around. Then fix your wholesale price and your retail price. Now, of course the retail price doesn’t often matter because each retailer will know their own market, but you need to understand that in order to sell it the retailer has to be able to make a profit. So the important thing is that you have factored into the wholesale price all of your costs, and then be in the mindset that a retailer will then have to sell it reasonably priced and make a profit from it. If you don’t do that you’ll come radically unstuck.