Award-winning Northamptonshire chocolate makers doubled production to keep up with demand before Christmas
There is no post-Christmas rest for an award-winning Northamptonshire chocolate business with Valentine's Day around the corner.
The team at Belflair Chocolates worked flat out for the last four months of 2019 to meet the festive demand, including for such glamourous regular customers as The Ritz, The Savoy and The Dorchester hotels.
The public appetite for particularly large for the Brackley firm's 'raspberry fruity chocolate' after it won Artisan Local Sweet Product of the Year award at the Carlsberg UK Northamptonshire Food and Drink Awards.
Stefaan Moyaert, from Belflair, said: “We’ve been a finalist in the awards in previous years and so we know what a difference success in the competition and its related publicity can bring but, if I’m honest, we didn’t expect the impact that this victory has had.
“The chocolate became one of our best-sellers over Christmas and we had to double our production to keep up with demand and I don’t expect that to let up as we get closer to Valentine’s Day and of course Easter and Mother’s Day after that!”
Stefaan and his wife Mervi Moyaert were full of praise for the guidance they received from the FEAST2 project, designed to help food and drink manufacturers in Northamptonshire.
Mervi explained: “We bought a new piece of equipment two years ago thanks to the original FEAST project, which proved to be an invaluable boost to our production, so when FEAST2 was launched, we signed up immediately.
“This time we weren’t looking to purchase anything but, given the recent high-profile cases where things have gone tragically wrong over food mislabelling, we wanted help to ensure that all our ingredients and nutritional information was listed correctly and was up to date with the latest legislation, and the assistance we’ve had has been amazing.
“Not only did we come away from the free labelling seminar with lots of useful reference material, but we also know we have a technical advisor on the end of the ‘phone or email whenever we need her, which is just so reassuring."
So, on the subject of next month’s excuse for romantic gestures, will Stefaan be presenting Mervi with a selection box come February 14?
“I don’t think so! I’d obviously love it if everyone showed they cared by buying some of our delicious chocolates for their other halves, but I think I might be issued with divorce proceedings on the 15th if I did that!” he grinned.
FEAST2 (Food Enterprise Advisory Support Team) is managed by the Food and Drink Forum and offers access to grant funding, sector events, mentoring and technical support to eligible businesses.