June 22, 2024

South West News

South West News from Gloucestershire to Cornwall

Plant-powered chocolate producer secures £852k Good Growth investment for major expansion

An award-winning Cornish confectioner is planning a major expansion after securing an investment of £852,573 from the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Good Growth programme.


Buttermilk, based in Bodmin, started life as a traditional fudge shop in the heart of Padstow in 1964. Now, 60 years later, the business has pioneered a range of award-winning dairy-free chocolate bars that are stocked by major retailers and wholesalers across the UK and sold online.


With sales growth of 225% for its ‘plant-powered’ confectionery including a growing export market, the challenger brand is embarking on a major expansion. The £930,000 project will see Buttermilk consolidate and expand two production units on to one site at its Bodmin base, seeking to create 14 quality jobs in the future and doubling production capacity.


To support quality year-round employment, the business will also invest in the development of a multi-skilled production team that will benefit from consolidated training and development programmes in food safety, quality, and technology.


The 420 square metre factory extension will include solar panels on the roof and a heat recovery system to reuse heat extracted from refrigeration for hot water and cleaning, significantly reducing the factory’s carbon footprint in line with the Good Growth programme’s key principles.


Buttermilk was acquired by husband-and-wife team David and Tracy Goad in 2010 as a small seasonal fudge producer. By 2016 they had transformed it into a sustainable year-round employer with listings in Waitrose, Sainsbury, Tesco and more. After the success of a dairy free Easter egg in 2018, the company secured funding to develop a pilot production line of dairy free chocolate snack bars in 2021 and has never looked back.


Tracy, who studied international business and worked for Bloomberg, said: “We are deeply appreciative of the grant funding which is going into our kitchen expansion to increase our capacity to meet the growing demand for our hugely successful and innovative plant-powered chocolate bars.


“This project is another stepping stone towards our vision of creating quality, stable year-round employment in Cornwall. We diversified our confectionery range in 2018 and took it to national and international markets, growing by 225% by reaching consumers beyond summer seasonal visitors in Cornwall.


“We are investing in the futures of our team which is wonderful given the current economic climate and challenges of the last few years. We’re committed to meeting the Living Wage across the business and we’re delighted that the award provides funding for training for our team to increase their skills and pay.


“This is great news for Cornwall and our environment. By creating a circular energy usage, we will reduce our energy consumption and maximise every kilowatt we use. And the reduction of inter-site transfers will send fewer lorries down our local roads.


“We are grateful to the Cornwall Council team who have worked solidly with us to reach this moment. Now we knuckle down to the hard work of delivering the project with the support of this much-valued investment.”


David, who has a degree in mechanical engineering and is innovation lead in the business, added: “Having a ringfenced ‘free-from’ production line with zero risk of cross-contamination has allowed us to develop delicious products that are suitable for everyone, regardless of lifestyle choice or dietary requirements. The expansion will allow us to meet growing demand and explore new products such as low-calorie options, and overseas markets where we already have interest from retailers in mainland Europe, the US, Ireland, and Australia. The investment will make a huge difference.”


Cllr Louis Gardner, Cornwall Council portfolio holder for economy, said: “Buttermilk is a fantastic example of a values-based, sustainable Cornish food business that has harnessed research and development to disrupt the market and grow its share. Its commitment to carbon reduction, staff development and paying the Living Wage exemplifies our Good Growth ambitions and I wish them all success for the future.”


The Good Growth programme is a £137m local investment plan managed by Cornwall Council and funded by the Government’s UK Shared Prosperity Fund. It aims to boost prosperity by investing in communities and place, supporting local businesses, and people and skills.


To find out more about the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Good Growth programme and the projects it is supporting in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, visit the Good Growth website.