Ludlow Food Centre
PUBLISHED: 00:16 01 February 2011 | UPDATED: 10:31 21 February 2013
For nearly 4 years Ludlow Food Centre has demonstrated that a policy of being devoted to local, fresh, seasonal and handmade food is what people want
The way we think about, buy and eat food is changing. The recent trend in buying local and keeping in touch with the seasons is fuelling a renaissance in British food. The definition of what is British is forever evolving but in Ludlow there has been a commitment to sourcing and producing truly local food. For nearly 4 years Ludlow Food Centre has demonstrated that a policy of being devoted to local, fresh, seasonal and handmade food is what people want. The Centre has stuck to its belief that local is best and sources 80% of its food from just 4 counties. The abundance of fresh fruit, vegetables, grains and meat in Shropshire, Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Powys has facilitated a unique business model that is the epitome of local food. More unique is the Centres ability to make half the products it sells and waste almost nothing. So, how is it possible to employ 80 people, source food from a 50 mile radius, hand make almost everything and grow in a recession?
Ludlow Food Centre incorporates 8 production kitchens including a dairy making cheese, butter and ice-cream, a butchery sourcing meat from the Centres own estate, a bakery using local flour and a jam and pickle kitchen that makes with the seasons. The Centre also has a kitchen that produces local favourites like fidget pies, faggots and even pigs head brawn. However, it is the way that the departments work together that makes this operation unique. The butchery, bakery, dairy and kitchen all plan their operations to coincide with seasons but also make use of everything available to them. The departments share their products with each other which means that a fidget pie made in the kitchen contains pork from butchery, cheese from the dairy and mustard from the jam and pickle kitchen. This collaborative environment shows how food production should be and how with a little bit of planning nothing is wasted.
A policy that aims to source 80% of the products and produce from just four counties means that food miles are kept to minimum and ensures that everything is sold at its peak. By sourcing locally and keeping in touch with the seasons the Food Centre is able to pay growers and producers more but can also sell some products for less than a
supermarket. It is so rare to see a business that is deliberately trying to benefit its locale and that is prepared to forfeit at least some of its profit to maintain long standing relationships and consider the bigger picture. Whilst investing in its future by supporting suppliers the Food Centre also invests in its staff by giving them the opportunity to learn more. Staff are encouraged to work in different areas of the Centre so they build up an understanding of retail, production, customer service and above all a wider knowledge of food. They are therefore able to develop an understanding of what is seasonal and also learn to use their hands and be creative with food.
It is clear that an increasing number of the British public are forever on the hunt for the next big thing when it comes to food. They want quality, traceability and a story attached to every ingredient. The more supermarkets try to offer these things the less genuine they seem because how is it possible to offer something special to the entire country all year round? Ludlow Food Centre has protected its supply chains, developed its staff and stuck to its ethos that what it sells is local, fresh, seasonal and handmade. By doing so it has grown, created jobs, supported local businesses and above all sold excellent food that is honest and tastes great.
The Ludlow Food Centre is open seven days a week, 9.00am 5.30pm, has ample free parking and good disabled access. Telephone 01584 856000 for further information or visit the website www.ludlowfoodcentre.co.uk