Inside the food hall at the Royal Norfolk Show 2018 - from cider and chutney to wine and gin
PUBLISHED: 11:31 28 June 2018 | UPDATED: 11:33 28 June 2018
The Norfolk Show is the biggest showcase of the year for the county’s phalanx of home-grown food and drink companies – as well as some from further afield.
For the second year running, Norfolk producers have been supported by funding from HSBC, which for many has cut their pitch fees by more than half.
Candi Robertson of Candi’s Chutney based at Salle near Reepham said the funding had saved her more than £200.
“I used to come to the show before the funding was available but I’m now paying less, which then means more profit. That enables you to do different events and invest in your company,” she said.
“The Norfolk Show is a great platform to showcase what you can do, not just as an individual but as a food community. We have such an amazing community, along with support from Norfolk Food and Drink, and those in the community support each other.”
Mary Ann Stuart, owner of Ollands Farm Foods, is attending her second show – and said it was only possible because of the funding help.
“We would struggle to come otherwise. It’s a great place to be seen and a great day – we sell a lot at the show and people come to find us especially.”
The Happisburgh-based chutneys and spreads producer, now in its sixth year, was also revealing its new look and rebrand at the show.
Notable once more this year was the number of gin producers selling their tipples at the show, with more than a dozen stands around the food hall.
But the growing strength of UK winemakers – and in particular East Anglian vineyards – was also in evidence.
Flint Vineyards from Earsham near Bungay has launched its new sparkling wine, made with a method more commonly used for prosecco, to complement its award-winning range of still wines.
Winemaker Ben Witchell, who runs the company with his wife Hannah, said English wines were gaining traction with customers.
“People are really excited about the quality of English wines at the moment, and it seems to be improving. People are also interested in Norfolk wines because there are so many products of good quality.”
The naturally lower alcohol content of English wines, without losing aroma or flavour, was also proving attractive to drinkers, he added.
“People are moving away from the heavier bodied wines from warmer climes that were popular in the past,” said Mr Witchell.
Mrs Witchell said interest in English still wines, and not just sparkling, was growing, adding: “Now people are asking about still wines too – that’s a breakthrough.”
Lee Dyer of Winbirri Vineyards said confidence among East Anglian vineyards was growing after a string of award wins in recent years.
“If you’d come here a few years ago there wouldn’t have been this many of us here, but now there are four Norfolk vineyards in the food hall, and we’re all busy.
“There’s all this confidence from our growers and it is helping everyone to get the word out there about the wines we are producing.”
Ken Woolley of the Harleston Cider Company was also enjoying the opportunity to promote his produce to a wider audience, including the company’s innovative ice cider, based on a Canadian recipe.
“People don’t usually buy alcohol so much in the morning, but in Norfolk it’s a bit different,” he joked.
“People like local and looks at the provenance these days, and all our apples come from within 15 miles.”
He also revealed the company, which he runs with his wife Deb, was in early discussions with supermarkets about stocking its product range.
“The good thing about supermarkets is that they have so much knowledge about the food and drink industry, so I want to learn from them, what they’re looking for, what they think of the packaging and so on,” he said.
“We make about 7,000 litres a year so we are still small but we have had some interest.”