For our Christmas “Meet the member” blogpost we caught up with Kate Clark, co-founder of Luscious.
Luscious started trading in September 2017 with a range of Soil Association Certified ice-creams and more recently, have introduced a range of fresh chilled custards. Their custards include Madagascan Vanilla, new Chocolate Custard and a luxury Limited Edition seasonal special, Brandy Custard. Luscious custards are available retail from Abel & Cole and Daylesford and wholesale from The Cress Company and Hunts Foodservice or Queenswood Foods.
The custards are a perfect partner for puds and their brandy custard has been included in the Soil Association’s Ultimate Christmas Dinner for 2019.
Coming to the end of 2019 is a good time to reflect on the highlights of the last year and look forward to their exciting plans for 2020.
Creating an organic brand In just over 2 years, co-founders Kate Clark and Doug Whitelaw have built a strong brand identity, bringing together Kate’s design and marketing expertise and their experience of working in the organic sector, all driven by a love of organic.
Doug knew he wanted to be a farmer from childhood, but was dissuaded when it came to career choices. He opted for a career in publishing, only to return to farming later in life when he went back to study organic farming at agricultural college
After graduating he worked as an organic farmer, including working on Helen Browning’s farm. He also set up a successful veg box scheme in Norfolk.
Kate co-owned a highly successful design-led marketing agency for 10 years and subsequently worked as a consultant creative and marketing director for niche and organic brands in both food and health and beauty.
From small seeds In 2016 they saw an ad on the Soil Association website for an ice cream making opportunity on an organic farm near Bath.
“We’d never had any plans to do anything like that, so it was a bit out of the blue. We were looking for a new challenge and I thought that as I’d spent years developing other brands, and we were both devotees of organic food and farming, it would be great to create our own organic food brand.” Kate said
“We researched it thoroughly and realised that, whilst it’s a crowded market, there isn’t much choice in premium organic ice-cream. We did some recipe development at home, pitched competitively for the business to the Neston Estate and Luscious was born!”
The business was set up with help from an EU Leader fund grant which they used to purchase equipment and develop premises.
Neston Estate The Neston Estate Farm is a certified organic farm run by an award-winning farm manager, Paul Redmore. The farm’s approach to animal welfare is innovative and being organic the animal welfare standards are high. They aim to keep antibiotic use low and achieve this using preventative measures which starts with hi-tech monitoring of their herd’s temperatures.
As an organic estate, Neston enjoys a wonderful biodiversity, and local wildlife groups have visited to record and monitor some of the species of flora and fauna found there.
2019 in review Luscious achieved nationwide distribution with The Cress Company for their custard and with Stratford Fine Foods for the ice cream, which will increase demand and sales going forward into 2020.
They are also now also listed in Harrods Food Hall, as well as Selfridges Foodhall and Daylesford.
It’s been a big year for awards too. Luscious were named Independent Food Producer of the Year 2019 in the Wiltshire Life Awards. They also were awarded two Great Taste Awards as well as the Soil Association ‘Best of Frozen’ category in the BOOM Awards.
Becoming Soil Association ‘Food for Life’ and ‘Organic Served Here’ accredited suppliers as well as achieving SALSA accreditation will help raise their profile in the food service sector.
Big news for 2020 Spring 2020 will see the launch of new Salted Caramel ice cream and two delicious new sorbets, in Raspberry and Mango flavours.
All ice cream flavours will be available in both 500ml take home and 120ml impulse tubs, as well as 4litre foodservice size.
Kate is thrilled to announce that from spring 2020, they will be supplying ice cream in fully biodegradable packaging. “It’s taken some time and funding to source, but will be worth it, and Luscious will be one of just a handful of ice-cream brands in fully biodegradable paper packaging.“
We asked Kate a few questions about the OTB, organic must-haves and what essentials she’s learnt from being a start up in the organic sector:
What made you become a member of the OTB and what do you value about the organisation? “For us it’s about being part of the world of organic food production. We are long-term devotees of natural and organic products and as well as eating organic wherever possible, we have used natural and organic home and personal care products for over 30 years.”
“So, it’s about being part of a bigger organic community. Also, we want to help spread the word and get more people to join the OTB and be part of growing the organic movement.”
Apart from ice cream what food or drink do you only ever buy organic? “We pretty much buy everything organic! – Bread, dairy, veg, meat – even our wine!”
Do you have any nuggets of wisdom for organic startups? “Research is key, I did months of research on the ice cream market. Know your market, target audience, competitors etc. So, we knew what we were getting into, though even that didn’t fully prepare us for the sheer cost of setting up food manufacturing and difficulties with distribution – especially in the frozen category.”
“Also, make sure you can source the right ingredients from certified organic suppliers – sourcing organic is not as easy as non-organic. Quality and provenance of ingredients is crucial. Visit trade shows to meet suppliers and network – and ask the OTB or your organic certifier if they know any suppliers.”