MPs line up for battle of the sauces

BROWN sauce is spicing up the political debate, with two MPs giving their support to stocking rival brands made in their constituencies in the House of Commons tea room.

BROWN sauce is spicing up the political debate, with two MPs giving their support to stocking rival brands made in their constituencies in the House of Commons tea room.

Bury St Edmunds MP David Ruffley and North Essex MP Bernard Jenkin are calling for HP Sauce - in which the HP stands for Houses of Parliament - to be replaced with a British-made version after confirmation by Heinz that it is to close its HP factory in Aston, Birmingham, and move production to Holland with the loss of 120 jobs.

Mr Jenkin backs a new brown sauce being made in his constituency by Wilkins of Tiptree, a firm with an international reputation for its jams and preserves.

Meanwhile, Mr Ruffley is putting the case for Branston Brown Sauce, which is made in Bury St Edmunds by Premier Foods.

Both sauces were only launched this year.

“It's a delight and a matter of pride that we spread Tiptree marmalade and jams on our toast in the House of Commons tea room, and I shall certainly be lobbying for the House of Commons to buy a British-made brown sauce.

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“I gather samples have already been sent to the House of Commons by Wilkins of Tiptree, and I hope that will lead to some orders for this very important local employer,” said Mr Jenkin.

The important thing was that it was a “straightforward” sauce, with no artificial ingredients, he said.

“It's also appropriate that we should buy a premium product. Obviously Wilkins of Tiptree is a small food producer aiming at the top of the market. It produces a very high quality product,” he said.

“I think we should go for the premium product.”

Ian Thurgood, joint managing director at Wilkin & Sons Ltd, added: “Every jar of Tiptree Brown Sauce is hand filled and finished here at Tiptree, and that's definitely not going to change.

“Were the House of Commons to add some of our sauces to their regular jam and marmalade order, we would be delighted to supply them.”

Mr Ruffley yesterday renewed his call for HP Sauce to be replaced by a British-made brown sauce following Heinz's confirmation of its decision to move the production to Holland.

“I was very disappointed to learn that in spite of the efforts of the unions and my Parliamentary colleagues, Heinz is closing the HP factory in Aston,” he said.

“I am today urging the administration committee of the House of Commons to remove HP Sauce from the Parliamentary Estate and replace it with British-produced Branston Brown Sauce as an act of protest.

“Branston is made in Bury St Edmunds by Premier Foods and deserves the support of the Palace of Westminster.”

The company which makes the Branston Brown Sauce said it had been “inundated” with inquiries from café owners and retailers following the announcement.

“The news broke last night and since then we have taken hundreds of calls from retailers, café owners and even hot dog vendors wanting to ditch HP and switch to a British-made brown sauce brand,” said Sue Knight, general manager for Branston.

“A lot of people are urging us to put the Houses of Parliament design on Branston Brown Sauce bottles. It's something we are seriously considering now that HP seems to stand for Holland Produced rather than Houses of Parliament.”

The Wilkin & Sons Tiptree Brown Sauce is being sold in Waitrose and independent food stores. Branston said its brown sauce, launched in January this year, has already achieved an 11% market share.