Over the next few weeks we’ll be featuring a series of exclusive Q&As with some of this year’s exhibitors. First up is The Handmade Cake Company, which has exhibited every year since the show’s launch in 2008. We caught up with sales director Simon Law to find out more…
Tell us about your company
We have been making cakes for coffee shops since the 80’s – all scratch-baked and decorated by hand. We now employ over 180 people, the vast majority involved in making cakes here in Berkshire. We do not make cakes for any major retailer, nor under anybody else’s brand, our focus is 100% on the out-of-home market.
Why was lunch! 2008 an unmissable opportunity for you?
2008 was a milestone year for us. We moved into our new bigger bakery in Maidenhead, and we exhibited at the first lunch! show in the same year. It offered the ideal opportunity to showcase our cakes to exactly the right type of potential customers – which was promised and delivered!
What is it that brings you back to the show every year?
lunch! provides a real cross section of our industry, which is exactly what we want as a baker of cakes. We don’t restrict ourselves just to coffee shops, we aim to provide cakes for any catering operator who does, or who aspires to, sell great coffee – this goes right across our industry. So lunch! visitors are exactly the right profile for us.
Tell us about your journey with lunch!
We started in 2008 with a modest amount of space and a very basic looking stand. As our range has grown and our formats with it, we have expanded slowly to the size of stand we will have in 2017. Our stand-look is a bit quirky but very engaging and invites people to come in and taste delicious cake, which, as always, is the main focus – it’s all about taste!
How has the food-to-go market changed in the last ten years?
Ten years ago it seemed very one-dimensional. In 2017-18 it is so much more, with huge emphasis on free-from and nutrition, but still about delicious tastes. In order to succeed in 2017 you need to do so much more than put a product into portable packaging!
What do you think are the key opportunities for the industry in the years ahead?
Not surprisingly, it will continue to be about free-from, and nutrition, but additionally it will be about more adventure with different flavours from all over the world. Also, in 2017, consumers are looking at food-to-go as almost a meal replacement as well as an indulgent treat, so we have to consider so much more. It provides smaller companies like us with lots of niche specialist opportunities that the big brands might ignore.
What’s your current bestseller?
Just as ten years ago, it is still Caramel Shortcake (aka Millionaire’s Shortcake), probably due to it still being absolutely best-in-class!
Do you have any new products that you’d like to highlight before the show?
We will be showcasing our full gluten-free range (pictured below), which will be enhanced by two new gluten-free desserts, including a Chocolate Fondant. Additionally, we will be launching two new Loaf Cakes (Chocolate & Banana Loaf pictured below), one of which is sweetened without the use of any refined sugars, just the sweetness from the fruit – an example of how free-from and nutrition is influencing NPD in 2017.
What are you looking forward to about lunch! 2017 at ExCeL?
The same huge variety of visitors that lunch! provides – across all the many sectors – from the largest operators to the most quirky little independent coffee shop; and from both the UK and further afield.