Wicks Manor take home top prize at East of England Co-op awards
- Credit: Archant
Family-run pork business wins Producer of the Year 2018.
Fergus Howie of Wicks Manor, based in Tolleshunt Major near Maldon, was crowned the winner last night of the East of England Co-op Producer of the Year awards.
The awards, voted for by East of England Co-op customers were founded to celebrate and reward the many food and drink businesses in East Anglia, and the selected finalists – Wicks Manor, Buxton Potatoes and Havensfield Eggs, were judged in recent weeks by a panel, including Emma Hibbert, Adnams marketing director, former EADT and Ipswich Star editor Terry Hunt and Charlotte Smith-Jarvis, Archant food and drink editor.
Wicks Manor is a real family affair and judges were impressed not only by the business’s truly field to fork story (they not only grow their own feed, but rear and butcher their pigs on site) but by its animal welfare, environmental stewardship, branding and marketing.
The business counts not only the East of England Co-op as a customer, but also local pubs, restaurants, cafes, farm shops and guest houses. Fergus has reached out beyond East Anglia too, with a kiosk at Wembley Stadium, and sales as far as Singapore.
After taking the award, he said: “Obviously there were three of us who thought we might win it but we never thought it would be us. I’m over the moon. It’s such a great accolade for our business to say we are 2018 Producer of the Year, especially in Co-op’s 150th year.” Fergus added he’s looking forward to continuing to grow the business this year. “We need to keep expanding our sales and keep building. We don’t want to be too clever but it’s doing much more of the same, keeping the qualty high.”
Judges said the competition was close, and both Buxton Potatoes and Havensfield Eggs picked up finalist awards at last night’s ceremony. The Brice family wowed with their dedication to their business, which involved Fiona and Alaistaire living in a caravan on site for many years at the beginning with their young children in tow. Judges applauded their innovation, with a new liquid egg production plant recently added to take the business to the next level.
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Tim Briscoe of Buxton Potatoes was praised for ‘thinking outside the box’. He’s recently added pre-packaged, ready-to-cook roast potatoes and chips to his range.
Judges said: “Every single producer we spoke to during the judging process had a unique story to tell. The sacrifices they have made, and the dedication they put into bringing high quality ingredients onto the shelves is truly inspiring. It’s been an honour to spend time with them all. Congratulations to our winner, Wicks Manor, finalists Havensfield Eggs and Buxton Potatoes, and to all the county runners up.”