We love a good foodie treat now and again, but the struggle with lockdown snacking is real! It’s also nice to gift edible treats from time to time, and some of our fantastic stallholders have wonderful things you can post to loved ones that you miss during lockdown.
Seed Chocolate creates artisan chocolate from cacao beans ethically sourced from all over the world, which has won multiple awards. Tipple Tails offer mouth-watering fruit cakes of various kinds hand-made in glorious Yorkshire, and The Weston Biltong Co. create delicious dried meat snacks.
We decided to find out more about their scrumptious offerings, why they’re missing markets and the effect the pandemic has had on their businesses:
Pedddle: A lot has changed this year given the pandemic. How has it affected your business?
Seed Chocolate: For us in particular, our online sales have been the best so far since we started in 2017. Although some of my artisan food friends haven’t been as fortunate, so we feel very humbled by the support. Although we can no longer sell in person, it’s had a really positive effect online.
Tipple Tails: I think the effect has been mixed – many producers’ wholesale business has completely disappeared, whether it be to the foodservice industry or to independent shops (some of which have remained open) and there is a gigantic hole in the opportunity to sell directly to customers at markets (including farmers markets) as they have all closed. You may have seen, for example, artisan cheese makers have been really struggling.
Food producers who have an online presence have on the whole have fared better, and some businesses who lost their custom overnight have quickly adapted to an online presence. For me, having lost all my spring events and therefore my opportunity to sell directly to customers overnight, my online shop has been inundated since lockdown with customers sending out foodie gifts to loved ones, often just to say a cheery hello and also for events such as birthdays and births. It has been heart-warming writing some very poignant messages on my gift tags.
I sell wholesale to gift companies who have also seen a big uplift, so my wholesale orders have been more regular and larger. So the focus of my business has changed a lot, and I think I would have lost the business if it hadn’t. As a sole director of a limited company, I am not entitled to furlough myself and as a home-based business not paying business rates, I am not entitled to the £10k government grant either, and I can’t afford to take out a business loan.
You can find out more about wholesale for small businesses here: https://pedddle.com/wholesale-for-small-businesses/
Pedddle: The pandemic has disrupted plans for so many businesses. What’s new for you in 2020?
Seed Chocolate: We have released a few new chocolate products this year, such as truffles, an ‘english delight bar’ & pink gin thins. We will be releasing more products shortly, such as drinking chocolate & brewing cocoa (think tea), so keep an eye out!
Tipple Tails: As I mentioned, I’m selling more wholesale products now but I’m also working with my website builders to enhance the Tipple Tails website. Watch this space!
Pedddle: Markets provide a brilliant opportunity to smell or sample products like yours. What are you missing most about the markets now they’re closed?
Seed Chocolate: We do miss the markets, but are relieved we didn’t commit to so many this year now! We miss the interaction with our customers and stallholder friends. Our USP is our dairy-free chocolate, and once people sample it they can’t get enough. It’s not about being vegan as such, it’s about giving pure flavour in everything we do. Being ethical separates us from pretty much most companies out there.
Tipple Tails: You get to speak directly to your customers and so get invaluable feedback. They get to try the product too and once they’ve tried it… I remember one of my first markets wishing I had a camera to capture the faces of customers as they tried my fruit cakes. I got permission to take a photographer with me at the next market and now have a wonderful gallery of glorious facial expressions!
Pedddle: What is your best selling product and why do you think this is?
Seed Chocolate: Our best selling products are usually our dairy free range (although dark chocolate should always be dairy free – yet isn’t in some cases). The most popular chocolate at present is our chocolate truffles and hibiscus white & dark chocolate bars.
Tipple Tails: My best seller (just – it is closely followed by the Ginger Tingle) is the Cherry Orchard fruit cake – it is packed full of fruit and nuts. I use whole almonds and whole natural glace cherries, which are like no other. The Cherry Bakewell tart liqueur enhances those flavours to make it really ‘sing’!
Pedddle: How are you coping with lockdown – are you offering anything different due to isolation?
Seed Chocolate: I shall be releasing a few Facebook videos next week, where I talk about the processes of bean to bar craft chocolate making.
Pedddle: Lots of our makers are turning online, and Seed Chocolate’s videos are a good watch to entertain you in isolation!
Tipple Tails: Not as such but I’m selling lots online, so you can still buy my products and watch out for my new-look website too!