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Soup of the day

Soup of the day

31/08/2006 | Channel: Manufacturer

Established in 1868, Baxters produces some of the UK's favourite soups, condiments, beetroot, preserves and chutneys

Featuring the six brands, Baxters, Garners, Simply Delicious, Pizza Express, Peppadew and Mary Berry, the family-owned Baxters Group provides over 150 quality food products to a range of customers across the globe. Through its four UK sites and one in Canada, 80 per cent of sales are made in the home markets, with
20 per cent exported to countries including Australia, South Africa, Hong Kong and
the US.

Despite witnessing a lot of changes through its history, the company is now in the fourth generation of family ownership and is still working under its initial mission,
'Be different, Be better.' This defining phrase was first used in 1868 when George
Baxter opened a small grocery shop in Fochabers, Scotland. It was George's wife,
Margaret, who helped define the future of the company as she began making jams
and jellies in the shop, which became popular in Gordon Castle as the Baxter
reputation spread.

In 1916 the first factory was built with William and Ethel Baxter supervising
production and spreading the word across Scotland. 1928 saw beetroot added to the production line as a leading grocer approached William Baxter with the idea. Before the war Baxters had become an important market player as it pioneered the canning of soft fruit and further developed its range of soups.

As the company looked to re-build after the war, 1959 saw Gordon Baxter leave for the United States with a range of jam and marmalade. After spreading the Baxter
name, he returned with a number of new ideas for developing the business. In the
'60s and '70s it became the first UK company to offer 12 oz jars and a resealable
twist cap.

After significant growth in the '80s, Audrey Baxter took control in 1992 as the
fourth generation of the family to run the business. Four years later a new £7 million
Riverside factory was opened signalling the intentions of Audrey to continue the
business' growth. A part of this strategy was to open a retail side of the business,
with five outlets now open in Scotland. In 2001 another facility was opened with soup production moving to Grimsby. The year also saw the acquisition of Garner's Foods, a traditional producer of pickles and chutneys, with a range that includes the UK's leading premium pickled onions and red cabbage.

A further acquisition occurred in 2003 when Colchester-based CCL Foods was
added to the Baxters Food Group. This move brought a range of premium brands
and private label products into the business, including Simply Delicious, Peppadew, Pizza Express and Mary Berry. Simply Delicious provides a leading range of organic condiments, mayonnaise and salad dressings, while the Pizza Express brand includes salad dressings, Peppadew offers mild and hot piquante pepper, and Mary Berry is a range of dressings and sauces made from natural ingredients.

The strategy of acquisitions continued in September 2004 as Canada's leading
private label soup manufacturer, Soup Experts, was brought into the group. Based in Quebec, the facility today operates as a wholly owned subsidiary of Baxters Canada.

Recent developments have included the launch of a new £2.5 million retail and
visitor complex in Blackford, Perthshire. The facility includes a restaurant and café for 250 covers, speciality stores for food, drink and gifts, and it was the venue for the launch of the Audrey Baxter signature range. Consisting of premium foods and wines, it is a range of local and international products as well as in-house manufactured goods that were tasted and selected by Audrey.

At present the Baxters brand has grown to encompass an extensive range of premium soups, beetroots, chutneys, condiments and preserves. As the UK's number one premium soup, its range is grouped into favourites, healthy choice, healthy helping, luxury, vegetarian, and chilled varieties, while Beetroot, which is also a UK market leader, is available in eight ranges including pickle, shredded, slices and rosebud.

Chutney recipes are created in the inhouse development kitchen, with seven varieties currently on sale, and the condiments are split into nine different sauces and jellies. Preserves, which were a founding influence in the company's growth, are still adapted from the traditional family recipe, with the reduced sugar jams and marmalades providing a healthy option for customers.

New product launches, the development of manufacturing facilities and a strategy
of acquisition alongside organic growth, has seen Baxters Food Group grow significantly over the past ten years. The family-owned business has developed from its humble beginnings as a small Scottish grocery shop with one salesman, to a group with facilities in the UK and Canada, and distributors across the globe, exporting products to North America, Australasia and Europe.

Despite the physical changes, Baxters has stayed true to its longstanding quality commitment as it continues to provide its customers with the same high standards that have seen it find success since 1868.