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Essex’s world famous foods

PUBLISHED: 13:12 25 April 2016 | UPDATED: 13:12 25 April 2016

Kelly's Turkeys

Kelly's Turkeys

©BruceHeadPhotographer

If you are a regular consumer of Essex produce, you will know just how lucky we are with the fantastic produce available on our doorstep. However, when some of our Essex producers manage to share their wares to a world-wide market, then they move into a league of their own. Here are three which have made that leap of faith successfully. Together they continue to reach ever-further into all four corners of the globe

Wilkin & Sons LtdWilkin & Sons Ltd

Kelly Turkeys

Paul Kelly was awarded the Essex Life Food & Drink Hero at the Essex Life Fine Food & Drink Awards last October for his significant achievements in bringing the Kelly Bronze turkey to a world-wide audience. Growing up, he was immersed in turkey farming from an early age and is now the third generation to continue the family business. The rest of the family continue to be involved in the production, logistics, procurements and even marketing side of the business. However, it’s Paul who is pushing the boundaries and making sure it’s not just us here in Essex who get to benefit from these bronzed birds.

Maldon SaltMaldon Salt

‘We are at the boutique, artisan end of production,’ says Paul. ‘We’re never going to be a big corporate, mass producing turkeys. That’s not our aim at all. We supply them to people who want a quality bird.’ Kelly Bronze Turkeys have found their way to customers in America and Australia and now Paul is pushing into France. ‘In 2017 we hope to say we will have the Kelly Bronze in London, Paris and New York. I’ve had a dream for many years to see those words printed on the side of the box. Now it’s coming true and we will be the first in the world who can say that.’

Paul says the company’s growth has been organic and its expansion hasn’t been hard to manage either. ‘We have a great team, whether you’re producing 1,000 or 3,000 turkeys, the process is still the same. Producing quality turkeys doesn’t faze me as I know the business inside and out. We have a complete and utter knowledge and understanding of how to produce the best tasting turkeys.’

Harvesting Maldon SaltHarvesting Maldon Salt

Wilkin & Sons Ltd

Steve Osborne with his father, CliveSteve Osborne with his father, Clive

Philippine Coste, is the international marketing manager for Wilkin & Sons Ltd.

‘Our first ever batch of preserves was sent to Australia back in 1885, and exporting has been at the heart of the Wilkin & Sons ever since,’ explains Philippine.

The firm now exports to more than 65 countries and the ever-popular mini jars are used in top hotels and restaurants all around the world. ‘Our mini jars now represent half of our export sales and we are proud to be served on Eurostar trains to and from Paris. Our key export markets are the rest of Europe, the USA and Japan, but we are gaining a stronger presence in the Middle East and emerging countries such as China and Brazil.’

So do the different varieties alter depending on the global market? ‘Tastes vary in each country. Lemon curd is still our top seller in many countries abroad and new products, such as our Salted Caramel Spread, enjoy great success too. The Japanese are fond of our wild blueberry conserve, The Middle East enjoys our Tiptree honey, while the Brazilians are fond of our ‘No Added Sugar’ fruit spreads.’

Philippine attributes Wilkin’s world-wide success to not only the fruit and the quality process used in making the preserves, but also to a sound, historic endorsement.

‘The company has been proud holders of a Royal Warrant from the reigning monarch since 1911 and this distinctive sign is greatly appreciated overseas.’

Maldon Salt

Originally, in the 1900s, Maldon Salt was only stocked in Harrods and Fortnum and Mason. Today it can be found not only all over the UK, in households and many of the quality restaurants and retailers, but also in many major international cities. In 2010 the company was visited by Her Majesty the Queen and in its 130th year, in 2012, Maldon Salt was granted the Royal Warrant.

The Osborne family have been making salt at Maldon for four generations. That’s a long while and a lot of salt for a family who are both custodians of an ancient culinary tradition and creators of a brand recognised the world over. Managing director, Steve Osborne, says: ‘It is unchanging yet ever-changing, constant yet continuously challenging. The salt stays the same, but there are always new cooks to bring into the Maldon fold and new recipes that will benefit from the magic of the perfect pinch.’

It’s upon this tradition that the Osborne’s thrive. Steven today, his father Clive before him, grandfather Cyril in 1934 and great-grandfather James before that.

‘Maldon Salt has a very special quality’ explains Steve. ‘When you talk about quality produce, you always talk about the senses. Maldon Salt has a distinctive look with a glistening, pyramid structure that is so attractive to the eye. Secondly, to touch it, Maldon Salt has a soft, crumbly texture that is far-removed from a hard rock salt. Finally, the taste of Maldon Salt is so mild and slightly sweet, without any bitterness. It is these qualities that allow Maldon Salt to do what it does best – to enhance the flavour of the ingredients within your dish.’

Exporting isn’t new to Maldon Salt – in 1988 exports accounted for 50% of their business – but today Maldon Salt continues to reach all four corners of the globe, with plenty of orders going to Asia to meet demand from British ex-pats. It continues the long tradition of local ambassadors, some of whom have come along more by chance. A New Zealand chef was working temporarily at the Ritz in London when he met a girl from the Maldon area and thus began the start of an export trade with New Zealand.

‘As something so simple and natural, and yet also of such high quality, it is little wonder Maldon Salt is equally loved in home kitchens across the world as well as by some of the world’s best-loved chefs.’

Get the taste

Kelly Bronze Turkeys

Springate Farm, Bicknacre Road, Danbury, CM3 4EP. 01245 223581, www.kellyturkeys.com

Wilkin & Sons Ltd

Tiptree, Essex, CO5 0RF. 01621 815407, www.tiptree.com

Maldon Salt

Wycke Hill Business Park, Maldon, CM9 6UZ. 01621 853 315, www.maldonsalt.co.uk

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