Firm’s new flavour has familiar appeal

AFTER more than 20 years of producing exotic ice creams, from Stem Ginger & Rhubarb to Gooseberry & Elderflower, a Suffolk firm has launched a radical new flavour – Vanilla.

Alder Tree Ltd from Needham Market, which styles its award-winning products as “fruit cream ices”, to highlight their reliance on natural ingredients, has traditionally specialised in the use of locally-grown produce.

The origins of the business go back to 1981 when Nick and Joan Hardingham bought Alder Carr Farm, just outside Needham Market, to run as a small holding while raising a family.

In 1985, a bumper crop of raspberries prompted Mr Hardingham to try out an old family recipe for ice cream, which the couple began selling from their farm shop before also starting to supply other retailers.

The business, and its range of products, gradually grew, with the production process moving first from the family home to the kitchen of a tearoom which they also ran on the site and then, in 1996, to its own dedicated facility, which had to be extended in 2003.

The following year, the Hardingham’s daughter, Stephany, joined to run the cream ice business full time and in 2007 Alder Tree Ltd was established, of which Ms Hardingham is now managing director.

The new vanilla cream ice, which is being marketed in 100ml, 500ml and 4-litre containers through Alder Tree’s nationwide network of independent stockists, is the result of a lengthy development proces.

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“It may seem strange that it has taken us over 20 years to add the world’s most popular flavour to our range,” said Ms Hardingham, “but we have always been proud to produce a unique and extremely fruity frozen dessert, best described as a cross between dairy ice cream and sorbet.

“With over 14 English fruit flavours to choose from, there is something for everyone, but even we had to admit that, just occasionally, only vanilla will do.

“We spent over a year developing the product to ensure it was the very best we could make and finally have something really quite delicious that we are proud to offer alongside the rest of our range.”