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Butter shortbreads to lemon crisps, inside Norfolk’s new biscuit factory

PUBLISHED: 06:00 21 February 2020 | UPDATED: 11:28 21 February 2020

Shire Foods has previously only made cakes (pictured), but is expanding into biscuits (inset). Pictures: Shire Foods

Shire Foods has previously only made cakes (pictured), but is expanding into biscuits (inset). Pictures: Shire Foods

Shire Foods

A new factory baking 4,000 handmade biscuits a day has opened in Norfolk.

Some of the biscuits Shire Foods is producing for other companies. Picture: Shire FoodsSome of the biscuits Shire Foods is producing for other companies. Picture: Shire Foods

Shire Foods has started producing treats from ginger biscuits to shortbreads, after its owner realised there was a gap in the market.

The Downham Market company already produces cakes under the Norfolk Cake Company brand, and also does packaging and wholesale operations for other brands.

Owner of the Downham Market business, Pat Gould, said: "I began trying to open this factory when I realised there were no other hand-made commercial biscuit makers in the area.

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"We bought a biscuit chef from Yorkshire down to help us with all the recipes, and we fully started production in January. Having said that, we've got a machine which can dip biscuits in chocolate and we haven't launched any products with that yet."

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Mr Gould has invested between £60,000 and £75,000 in the factory, which employs three people.

"Currently we're just selling the biscuits to shops under their own branding, but we will be making the Norfolk Biscuit Company a brand in it's own right," he said. "We work a lot with local farm shops and retailers, and we try to source everything as local as possible.

"For example, all the flour we use comes from 100 yards away at Heygates Mill, and we even do some of their packaging for them."

"Only one element of the process isn't done by hand, and that's the cutting process for our fish-finger shaped biscuits," he explained. "They're cut with what looks like a big cheese wire because the dough comes out in one long piece and needs to be divided.

"The staff work between baking cakes and biscuits, but we have three people working on the biscuits each day."

The company on average keeps around 10 pallets of biscuits on site at the St John's Business Estate.

"We had a lot of customers lined up but sadly we lost a few as we had some problems with the power getting into the factory," he said. "But we've got new customers coming on board now and can start looking at diversifying."


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