Guy Warner: What's in a name?
PUBLISHED: 16:06 24 April 2017 | UPDATED: 16:06 24 April 2017
They may be local, artisan and made in the Cotswolds, but for a product to really win people over, the quality has to live up to the name
When it comes to food and drink, ‘The Cotswolds’ has become a brand name in its own right. Stick ‘Cotswold’ on the front of any product and the suggestions are that it is a more exclusive, more luxurious, more superior offering. You could probably bottle your own tap water and sell it as ‘Cotswold Aqua’ to Anglophiles all over the world… until the delicate hint of chlorine unmasks your plan. It is the same with ‘local’ and ‘artisan’ products – I bet I could package my four-year-old’s attempts at baking as ‘Cotswold Cornflake Cakes’ and pass them off as locally-made, and artisan-designed, but you really wouldn’t thank me for it.
What I’m getting at is that local isn’t necessarily better. For a product to be truly successful, it’s not enough to use the Cotswold angle to sell it. You can’t build a business by sticking on the local badge – if you’re not producing a better product all round, then you’re simply defrauding people.
Taste is everything when it comes to food and drink. I’ve sampled hundreds of locally made products – many are outstanding, but I’ve also tasted many that just aren’t that good. Unless I can hand on heart say that what I’m trying is a better product, with a better taste and better production credentials, then no matter what you call it, you won’t find us shouting about its provenance on the shelves at Warner’s Budgens.
The Cotswold Life Food & Drink Awards does a fantastic job of championing local products that are best in their class, many of which have appeared in this column. Because the products are nominated by the public, they have already stood and passed the taste test. But the awards also give producers the chance to tell their story so that people can really understand what they are buying. The more you know about a producer’s values and production methods, the greater the connection with the product. Combine that with great taste and reasonable value then, no matter what you call your product, you’ll be onto a winner.
The Cotswold Brew Co: one of the oldest lager microbreweries in the UK, and the first in the Cotswolds, Cotswold Brew Co set out to change the nation’s perception of lager. Their lager is brewed following centuries-old German and Belgium traditions, using only four ingredients for a clean, fresh and additive-free brew. The company only supplies local outlets and has since grown to include Cotswold cider, gin and vodka.
The Cotswold Traiteur: Francis Green makes his award-winning frozen meals with the flair you would expect from a top chef, using locally-sourced ingredients. The range includes Cotswold Life Food & Drink Awards winner Classic Steak & Ale Pie and the highly commended Malaysian Beef Rendang and Sri Lankan Black Lamb. To find out more visit:
Cotswold Handmade Meringues: crispy on the outside with a chewy, gooey centre, these are meringues as they are supposed to be. The business was formed by Muriel Morrissey and her daughters, Jan and Lisa, using a tried and tested family recipe. The company has kept up with demand with innovative new products – meringue whirls, bites and nests and luxury dark chocolate, cinnamon and coconut flavours.
Cotswold Pudding Co: ‘Gloriously Handmade’ is the tag line and these sticky puddings really are just that. Handmade in the small village of Poulton outside Cirencester by Karen Laggett, the puddings are lovingly crafted from the finest ingredients. The classic Sticky Toffee Pudding was a Cotswold Life Food & Drink Awards winner while the Sticky Ginger Pudding won the Taste of the West ‘Best Dessert’ award.