Focus on... Just Crisps
A lot of businesses - in the food industry in particular - talk about trading locally, using locally sourced ingredients, understanding the provenance of their food and minimising food miles. You know, you've heard it all so many times! However we really, really do this! Our beautiful cuts of meat are from our neighbour, Paul Shum Family Butchers - here in our Staffordshire village of Yoxall. Our farmer, Jim, is just up the road and we collect from him and see where (and how) all the fresh produce is grown. More about them another time. We want to tell you more about Just Crisps, another of our key local suppliers.
Visiting Just Crisps, we had true red carpet treatment, with a tour of the estate, a visit to the various on-site production areas and, of course, lots of sampling! Since our first visit we are now regulars but always get a warm welcome as we collect our crisps and oils for the week ahead.
Just Crisps are based in Hill Ridware, just 5 miles away and 9 minutes by car. The Froggatt family have farmed here for 4 generations - with Anthony and Rebecca currently at the helm.
Wade Lane Farm is beautifully maintained with lots of points of interest and carefully planted areas - not just for commercial reasons but with the utmost respect for the environment. Driving around the many acres you can immediately spot the fields of rape with its distinctive bright yellow flowers. The business has evolved in recent years from its traditional, 80 year old farming heritage to diversifying into the production of rapeseed oil, followed by crisps and pea and bean based snacks and a further range of oils.
What we love about Just Crisps, apart from the flavour obviously, is the fact that they are 100% British and that every element of production happens right there on the farm. The only part that is not produced in-house is the packaging and even the designs are theirs. We loved following a potato's journey from the farm's own fields to the production areas into their final form - a beautifully warm, hand flavoured, crunchy, fresh crisp! There's no taste quite like it. It reminded us of a trip to France where a family we ate with used to include freshly warmed crisps with their dinner in place of traditional potato dishes - this is especially nice in the summer months with chicken and salad - try it!
When we were in the factory area, glamorously white coated and hair netted, we noticed large plastic containers full of crisps waiting to be shipped out to nearby Lichfield - these go to a business who sell products without packaging and Just Crisps refill the containers with loose product so they can support the ethos of reduced packaging supported by this local company. This is one example of the way they work with their customers.
As well as crisps and snacks, the Froggatt family have a range of the most delicious oils. These range from their staple - the luscious rapeseed oil to stir fry and roasting oils and infused oils - perfect for dressings and cooking. We use their oils in our salad dressings and absolutely swear by them for taste and quality. The range include flavours such as basil, garlic, chilli and lemon.
Interestingly, they also produce a wonderful oil aimed at animals - a food supplement that is packed full of excellent properties to ensure your pets have the glossiest coats in the neighbourhood, popular with dog and horse owners.