In this manufacturer close up, we speak to Lesley Buxton, director and co-owner at Yorvale. The company produces ice cream on its 80-acre farm in rural Yorkshire.
The £2m turnover business maintains as traditional and authentic an approach as possible, with the founders Ian and Lesley Buxton still heavily involved in the production process.
Yorvale’s award-winning ice creams are sold across the UK and the family firm is aiming to double its turnover in the next five years.
Tell me more about Yorvale
Yorvale is the brain child of Ian and Lesley who were looking to diversify their farming activities in 1989.
They set on the idea of using their 60-strong herd of Friesian cows to produce milk for ice cream and, at the outset, Lesley used to make the ice cream in a small batch freezer, all handmade.
Close to 30 years later, the ice cream is still produced on Fossfield Farm using milk from the family herd. And Ian still milks the cows himself twice a day!
We employ 18 people and although the equipment we use to manufacture the ice cream is on a larger scale and more automated, the production process is still very manual and still relies on the expertise of our caring staff.
Some say the real stars of the show are the cows – what’s their role?
Importantly, the herd is non-commercial, which means the cows produce milk solely for Yorvale. This results in stress-free cows that produce rich and creamy milk, perfect for high-quality ice cream.
The milk is moved daily less than 100 metres to the on-site dairy, which means within 90 minutes of leaving the cow it is being made into ice cream. You don’t get much quicker or fresher than that!
What successes have you achieved in the last 12 months?
We have invested £750,000 in a factory expansion, which has significantly increased our capacity.
The site is also BRC AA accredited, the highest standard you can get.
Yorvale has also become the exclusive supplier for the Slates Pub Group in the northern half of the UK. In addition, we were also chosen by celebrity chef Brian Turner as the approved Lunchbox Theatre ice cream supplier.
And we have added further sports centres, hotels, and restaurants to our growing list of clients, as well as more independent wholesalers.
We work with wholesalers across the UK including Kent Frozen Foods, Turner Price, Pilgrim Foodservice, Nicol Hughes Foodservice, Miller Food Service, Windsor Foodservice and JMP Foodservice. Once a wholesaler is on board, we tend to keep them. For example, we have supplied Kent Frozen Foods for more than 10 years.
Our success is providing our customers with a consistently high-quality product, the service, support and commitment to grow business, and develop long-term relationships.
Why is your product different to what else is on the market?
Our product is of a premium quality offering only the finest wholly natural ingredients of a high specification and sourced from UK-based companies.
We use real ingredients, for example the raisins that go in our rum & raisin ice cream are soaked in Jamaican Rum for four days to produce an ice cream with a distinctive flavour that tastes fabulous.
All our fruit and sauces are bespoke manufactured solely for Yorvale.
Combining the quality of the product with a farm-based heritage and complete traceability is a winning combination. It’s part of the reason why our biggest sale success is in London; we sell 40 per cent more in the capital than we do in York.
What benefits has Erudus provided?
Erudus has been an incredible resource for us. We stock an extensive range of flavours, and to update each customer manually about any changes to ingredients was very time consuming.
Erudus allows us to update dozens of wholesalers and tens of thousands of caterers at the push of a button. The time saved has allowed us to focus on growing the business further.
In addition, it’s a big selling point when talking to new wholesalers and caterers. Erudus provides value to everyone in the foodservice chain and it shows potential customers that we take our work very seriously.