Cotswold Gold celebrates 10th anniversary
- Credit: Chris Jeynes
From a university project to an award-winning business, Cotswold Gold celebrates its 10th anniversary this year
In 2010, after graduating from the Royal Agricultural University Charlie Beldam set-up Cotswold Gold as a diversification venture based around his family’s arable farm near Broadway.
The farm was already producing rapeseed and Charlie wanted see if he could turn this crop into a desirable end product. From the kitchen table of his parent’s farmhouse to a fully-fledged factory Charlie has built a successful cold-pressed rapeseed oil business that supplies products to retailers and restaurants across the UK; from fish and chip shops to Claridges and Le Manoir.
But Cotswold Gold’s success hasn’t happened over-night. Through years of dedication to weekends at food shows, late nights in the factory and profits re-invested Charlie has created a fantastic product and built a strong customer base as a result. The latest investment in six more presses and a new fully automated hopper system will see the company’s oil pressing capacity double this year. “This is a big step for us but we are confident in our product and optimistic about the opportunities the next decade can bring,” says Charlie.
Cold-pressed rapeseed oil has seen a rise in popularity over the past decade. It is a healthier alternative to other oils on the market due to benefits including low cholesterol and much lower saturated fat compared with olive and coconut oil. As well as making healthier choices customers also want to know where their food has come from and the conscious move towards buying British and local continues to gain momentum.
Charlie’s passion for his business is impossible to overlook. He has worked through the hard graft of establishing a brand and continues to campaign for other local producers – being the energy behind Broadway Food Festival and more recently in building a collective of Cotswold producers who are working together to promote food and drink made in the Cotswolds.
In 2018 Charlie’s wife, Hannah, left her Shropshire family business, Merrythought teddy bears, so she and Charlie could build Cotswold Gold together. “I spent seven years running Merrythought alongside my sister and learnt a huge amount. It was a big decision to step across but the right one for our young family. Building a business is a challenging but exciting vocation and our most important asset is our brilliant team who share our values.”
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Cotswold Gold’s core products include the hugely popular Raspberry Drizzle and an expanding range of mayonnaise, which now includes a Truffle Mayonnaise and Smoked Chilli Mayonnaise. New products are in the pipeline including more gift packs and new sauces. Look out for the Hollandaise Sauce hitting the shelves in time for asparagus season.
As well as working on the range of Cotswold Gold products Charlie and Hannah are building up a manufacturing business making products from salad dressings, chutneys, sauces and other condiments for a number of UK brands.
“Developing the manufacturing side of the business has given us diversity and stability as well as enabling us to invest in our facilities, equipment and staff,” says Hannah. “It is hugely rewarding seeing products from our factory heading off to retailers such as Ocado, Selfridges and Waitrose.”
It is a conscious decision for Cotswold Gold not to be a supermarket brand. “Cotswold Gold is a premium oil and we don’t want to end up being squeezed on quality by the big multiples. We supply Warner’s Budgens because of their focus on local products and recently collaborated with them for a Taste Club lunch for 70 guests at the Lygon Arms in Broadway. It is though initiatives like this that we try to reinforce the message of buying quality local ingredients.
“We supply frying oil to pubs, restaurants and schools in the Cotswold area offering a circular service of taking away their used oil. We try to reduce waste wherever we can,” Charlie explains. Sustainability is a big part of the Cotswold Gold business model. The rape meal by-product created during pressing is used for cattle feed and waste oil collected from the fryers of local restaurants is cleaned and converted to bio-fuel. Even the factory and office heating is powered by the waste oil.
Another exciting new market is in the increasing number of package free zero waste stores around the country which now stock re-fillable Cotswold Gold oil containers.
As Charlie says: “As a business we are constantly evolving and finding interesting new avenues to explore but our roots remain firmly on the ground of the family farm where we hope we can continue to make our contribution to the future of British food and farming for the next generation.”