A chilli condiment that’s handmade at home to a secret recipe has proved so popular with shoppers that the producer is now supplying all four Waitrose Scottish stores.
Susan McCann – whose JUSTaddCHILLI condiment has been outselling Heinz Chilli Tomato Ketchup in Waitrose Newton Mearns – has stepped up production to keep up with demand.
She won her original contract to supply Waitrose through a Scotland Food & Drink Meet the Buyer event held in conjunction with Scotland Food and Drink, where producers pitch to buyers in a Dragons’ Den style format. The regional sourcing team loved her sauce and worked with Susan to perfect her recipe.
The Mild condiment proved such a hot seller, that Waitrose is now stocking both it and the hotter – Wild – condiments across all four of their stores in Scotland.
The contract has helped Susan’s business to grow much faster than she had planned for; she’s now looking for a production unit as she’s almost outgrown her home kitchen.
JUSTaddCHILLI is one of over 420 lines from Scottish producers and suppliers across the country sold by Waitrose. Companies range from household names such as Macsween to small family-run businesses such as Henshelwoods Chutneys and The Argyll Smokery.
In the last 12 months, Scottish suppliers such as Glasgow’s West Brewery and Findlaters Patés have won contracts to supply Waitrose UK-wide, in great success stories for their businesses.
Oliver O’Mara of the Local and Regional sourcing team for Waitrose, explained that they’re always interested in discovering new producers with delicious products and Meet the Buyer events are a good way of meeting regional producers. He said:
“Fifty percent of the Scottish producers we saw at the Meet the Buyer event have landed on the Waitrose shelves.
“I think this is down to the fact that there’s healthy competition among producers in Scotland so quality is high, coupled with strong demand from customers for Scottish produce. And of course, with so many small and family-run businesses, they have the added bonus of a strong identity and heritage.”
Stephanie Pritchard, Access to Markets manager at Scotland Food & Drink, who organise the Meet the Buyer events, said:
“Scotland is renowned for its wealth of artisan producers like Susan who play a vital role in growing the sector and enhancing Scotland’s reputation as a land of food and drink. Our Meet the Buyer events have been extremely successful in facilitating relationships between suppliers and retailers like Waitrose who are keen supporters of bringing local products to their customers, often acting as a platform for smaller producers who do not have the resource to access buyers directly.
“The success of JUSTaddCHILLI and other innovative SMEs will help deliver our target to grow the value of the food and drink sector to £12.5 billion by 2017.”
Susan McCann says:
“Over the years it was made for my family and friends and when I was made redundant last year, I started selling JUSTaddCHILLI at farmers markets. It was then I realised the commercial potential from its astonishing popularity; on occasion I had some customers coming back to my market stall the following week and buying five or six jars.
“At the time, I never dreamed I’d be selling on the shelves of Waitrose, let alone looking for bigger premises so early on.”
• Susan uses nearly 40 kilos of chillies each week – for the mild chilli they’re cut open and deseeded by hand
• Susan does all the preparation, cooking and bottling in her kitchen at home
• The unique taste of JUSTaddCHILLI comes from the combination of fresh strawberries and long red chillies
• There are many health benefits claimed for eating chillies such as helping clear congestion and pain relief
• Chilli sales are up 42% and growing year on year as the hot little vegetable becomes more and more mainstream in the UK
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Notes to Editors
1. JUSTaddCHILLI is now available in all four Waitrose stores in Scotland; at Byres Road in Glasgow, at Newton Mearns and at Comely Bank and Morningside in Edinburgh. Originally developed to tempt the taste buds of her family and made according to a secret recipe, Susan’s sauce is available in a Mild and Wild version. For more information about JUSTaddCHILLI visit the website www.justaddchilli.com Susan McCann, email@example.com
2. Waitrose is part of the John Lewis Partnership and is owned by its employees, called Partners. There are now 748 Waitrose partners in Scotland. Waitrose has announced plans for new stores in Stirling and Helensburgh; subject to planning permission being granted, these would open for business in 2013.
3. Waitrose is Britain’s favourite supermarket according to the Which? Annual Supermarket Satisfaction Survey 2011.
4. Suppliers and producers interested in supplying Waitrose need to meet the requirements of the Small Producers Charter. See the website for more information.