Norfolk-born mum serves up a tasty business treat after striking a deal with Waitrose to sell her range of healthy ready meals for kids
- Credit: Archant
A Norfolk-born businesswoman is serving up a tasty treat for yummy mummies after securing a deal with Waitrose to sell her healthy ready meals for children.
Kate Finch, who grew up in Burgh St Peter, near Beccles before pursuing a career in the City of London, has struck a deal to sell her Junior's Pantry ready meals in 118 Waitrose store across the country, including East Anglia.
The former St John Leman High School pupil and mum-of-two developed the meal range, aimed at primary school children, based on her own recipes she used to cook for her daughters Olivia, 10, and eight year old Lucy.
She started developing the business in 2011, testing the recipes out with friends and their children as well as teaming up with a nutritionist. All the meals are produced in a professional kitchen.
Last year she struck a deal with online retailer Ocado and now Waitrose has agreed to stock the meals at 118 stores including in East Anglia.
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The one pot meals, which cost £2.99, have at least one portion of vegetables and are hand-made using British beef and chicken. Flavours in the chill cabinet are Beef Ragu and Chicken and Prawn Paella , while chicken and pesto pasta is available from Ocado.
'It's a product that's targeted at busy working mums - or 'yummy mummies' and that's very much Waitrose's demographic,' she said. 'People don't browse online. Being on the supermarket shelves gives us that visibility we needed and brand presence.'
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The 43-year-old, whose father is former Hoseasons managing director, Ken Gaylard, said she had high hopes for the business and is looking to strike deals with other supermarkets as well as develop more recipes and extend the range into other areas such as lunches and cereals .
'I can go elsewhere and I want to look at expanding the range of meals available, whether that's lunch boxes, snacks, or healthy cereals. When I came up with the name it was with the option to expand.'
She said the venture was a world away from her previous career in the City, but she had a long-standing interest in food.
'When I did my A levels I didn't know what to do next,' she said. 'A friend of my sister suggested doing something with cookery so I went to London and did a Cordon Bleu course and then went to France and worked as a chalet girl. When I came back I also worked in the Crown Hotel in Southwold.'
After moving out of London, she was inspired to develop the idea while listening to BBC Radio 4's 'Woman's Hour' and a feature on women in business, and she set about on a mission to provide wholesome, convenient ready meals for busy mothers like herself.
After speaking to families to understand their eating habits, she discovered many parents juggling the weekly family menus to cook twice a day – once at tea-time for the children, and then later for themselves.
Her research revealed while many parents did not use ready meals that are designed for adults as they felt they contained too much salt, fat and sugar, they would use a ready meal that had been specifically designed for children, with no additives.
'We want our children to eat well, but can't spend all our time in the kitchen,' she said. 'These pots are designed to contain a nutritious meal for a primary school aged child and are ready in just over two minutes - giving us time to avert any hunger-related tantrums.'
The business has also proved a family affair after her daughters helped out with putting 'Best of British' stickers on the pots.
'They spent several days last week helping out and they are thrilled to see their mother doing something like this,' she added.