Sweet success for Essex jam producer

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A jam maker tasted sweet success after beating a sandwich company to reach the finals of the East of England Co-op’s Producer of the Year competition.

Thursday Cottage, who produce jams, marmalades and curds from their farm in Tiptree stormed into the lead during an afternoon tea where it competed against rival family-run Raynor’s to win public votes.

Invitations were sent to over 70s and under sevens for the event, held to crown the Essex County Winner and mark the seventh anniversary of the competition.

Across a four-week voting period, Thursday Cottage secured an impressive 4,409 votes.

Pele Heydon from Thursday Cottage said: “We are thrilled to have won the Essex part of the award. We were staggered at how much support we won from the public and are very grateful for their votes.

“Showcasing our jam for the very special tea party was a highlight in our campaign for votes and the feedback we received from young and old was absolutely superb.

“To reach the finals of this very prestigious competition is a really amazing achievement for our brand and we are hoping that the quality of our products will see us through to win the producer of the year title. Fingers crossed!”

This is not the first accolade for the brand. Last year their lemon curd and cherry curd were shortlisted in the Great British Food Awards and its blood orange marmalade got three stars at the Great Taste Awards. The blood oranges they use come from the slopes of Mount Etna.

Thursday cottage provided all the jam to go with scones and cream at an event bringing together two generations while Raynor’s, a family-run sandwich business in Chelmsford, provided the sandwiches.

The pair merged their talents for the unique afternoon tea playdate between a Kelvedon based care home, St Dominic’s residential home and a primary school, Kelvedon St Mary’s Academy – asking guests for feedback.

The event was one of three held to find county winners for Suffolk, Essex and Norfolk.

Woodbridge bakery The Cake Shop triumphed over spice paste producer Choose Spice at a Valentine’s Day taste test to be crowned Suffolk County Champion.

Meanwhile, The Norfolk Brewhouse narrowly secured more votes than Woodforde’s Brewery at a mini beer festival at the University of East Anglia to find the Norfolk County Champion.

All three of the county winners will now meet a panel of food and farming experts before the overall Producer of the Year 2018 is crowned at the annual East of England Co-op Supplier Supper on 14 March.

Roger Grosvenor, Joint Chief Executive at the East of England Co-op, said: “The competition has been as fun as it has been fierce, with a tea party, a beer festival and a Valentine’s Day taste test resulting in an incredible 19,000 public votes.

“We have seen primary school children sharing scones with care home residents, watched two brewers go head-to-head at the University of East Anglia and seen a real love for food expressed by two producers who are friends as well as rivals.

“Judges will now be taking a look at the three county champions to decide on an overall winner.”

The East of England Co-op works with approximately 100 local producers through its multi-award winning Sourced Locally initiative, which has generated millions of pounds for the regional economy since launching in 2007.

Producer of the Year plays a vital role in continuing the Sourced Locally ethos by encouraging shoppers to consciously buy local and quality produce throughout the year.