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Norwich Mustard: New campaign wants YOUR support to continue city’s proud history

PUBLISHED: 05:00 15 February 2018 | UPDATED: 16:26 19 February 2018

Robert Ashton, left, and Steve Morphew, who together want to launch Norwich Mustard. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Robert Ashton, left, and Steve Morphew, who together want to launch Norwich Mustard. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

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A community campaign to start a new chapter in Norwich’s mustard-making history is launched today, with organisers calling on the city for support.

Robert Ashton, left, and Steve Morphew, who together want to launch Norwich Mustard. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYRobert Ashton, left, and Steve Morphew, who together want to launch Norwich Mustard. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

They hope that the new brand, named Norwich Mustard, can fill the gap left by the departure of Colman’s from the factory it called home for more than a century.

And the people of Norwich are being asked to get behind the new co-operative and help rebuild the association between the city and a product which has spread its name around the world.

The campaign is being spearheaded by county councillor Steve Morphew and entrepreneur Robert Ashton, who hope the city will show solidarity.

“It’s putting a bit of Norwich back where it belongs: it’s a statement of pride on behalf of the city,” said Mr Morphew.

“It’s an attempt to create more jobs out of a well-established manufacturing process and a recognition that we have these skills here.

“We’re setting it up in such a way that it has the capacity to grow, if we can get enough people behind us.”

A crowdfunding campaign is seeking to raise £6,000 which will then be match-funded to pay for a business plan, ahead of a share issue in the spring, which will allow people to own a part of the new co-operative.

The pair are already in talks with condiment-makers and are in discussion with regional retailers to stock the sauce when it is ready, but say the clock is ticking on one essential ingredient – they need to find a farmer to grow the mustard seed for them.

If they are successful, they hope to produce a batch by the autumn with which they can prove there is demand, and then find the funds to grow.

Mr Ashton and Mr Morphew say Norwich Mustard is not intended to rival the multi-million pound might of Colman’s, but would be a “premium product” which can continue the city’s mustard legacy and, over time, provide jobs.

“It will go where people want it to go – we’ll respond to our shareholders, who will be the people of Norwich rather than corporate pension funds,” said Mr Ashton.

They already have an eye on finding premises in the city where they can eventually begin production.

Mr Morphew added: “Norwich has always been very independent and strong-minded. Mustard is iconic in Norwich and we think it’s the kind of thing people will want to get behind.”

Once the share issue has been completed in the spring, the two founders say they are willing to step back and hand over control to a board of directors elected by the shareholders.

“We want the first cohort to get the ball rolling and then we want people who can help to deliver the vision, and help to run the show long-term.”

How can you help?

The team behind Norwich Mustard is looking for public support, and there many ways to give the project your backing.

• Spread the word – Tell people about the project and what you think of it, like the Facebook page and tweet your support.

• Have your say – An online survey to gather people’s views on the project is now live. You can fill it in at https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/L2DT3QF

• Chip in – The campaign’s first target is to reach £6,000, which it will get match-funded, in order to draw up a business plan. Invest at http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/norwich-mustard

• Offer expertise – If you have skills you believe could be useful, email robert@robertashton.co.uk

• Grow mustard – Norwich Mustard needs to plant enough mustard by the start of the growing season next month to ensure they have a product to market by the autumn – essential if the co-operative is to prove its model.

A 200-year-old link

Norwich and mustard is an association that goes back more than 200 years.

It was in 1814 that Jeremiah Colman set up a mustard mill at Stoke Holy Cross from where he began to produce the famous yellow condiment.

It moved to Carrow Works in 1858 and remained in the control of the Colman family until 1995, when it was sold to consumer goods conglomerate Unilever.

Its Norwich site is still shared with Britvic, who announced in October that it would close it Norwich factory by 2019. The news was confirmed before Christmas, and prompted Unilever to review its own presence in the city.

It said last month it would leave the site by next year, leaving just 25 of 113 jobs in Norwich, at an as-yet-unconfirmed site. Mustard growing and milling will continue in the county, but processing will move to Unilever’s facility in Burton-upon-Trent – though it will keep the name Colman’s of Norwich.

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