Family affair as brand new company featuring unique superfood berry products is launched

02 April 2015

An enterprising mother and two daughters have launched a brand new food company selling locally grown products that harnesses the healing properties of a rare superfood.

Victoria Williams-Griffiths, with sister, Anna, and their mother Angela have received rave reviews for their home-made Beri Da chutneys and fruity vinegar, made from aronia berries grown in Llandwrog, near Caernarfon.

The 90-plant patch is one of a handful of sites in the UK where the aronia berries, which studies have shown have the highest level of antioxidants for all berries, are grown. The berries are hand-picked and harvested in August.

Just three miles away in Talysarn near Penygroes, Gwynedd is Victoria’s kitchen, where the three rustle up their home-made products thanks to support from Cywain, a project created to bring added value to primary produce within the Welsh agricultural sector.

Studies have shown that the aronia berry is rich in vitamin C, E and other valuable minerals. Native to North America the berries are grown mainly in Eastern Europe, but they’re not well known in the UK.

Beri Da’s unique chutneys and fruity vinegar will be officially launched at Bodnant Welsh Food Centre in the Conwy Valley this weekend after receiving critical praise from chefs and restaurateurs at the Caterfare trade show at Venue Cymru Llandudno last month.

The tangy, sharp-tasting products were so well received that chefs at top Conwy restaurant Signatures put them straight onto their menu for one of the busiest weekends of the year.

Victoria, said: “My mum was part of the group that first trialled planting the berries a few years ago, through the Mentera project and they’ve really thrived here in Gwynedd.

 “Aronia berries are not really well-known in the UK. There’s only a handful of plots in North Wales, and we know of one up in Perth and another in Kent, so they’re not widely available.

“The berries have a really sharp, sweet taste but are incredibly versatile. We use them to make a vinegar infused with the berries and they also taste great in our chutneys as it cuts through the fattiness of lamb or venison plus it works well as a dressing. It also tastes fantastic as a sweet accompaniment to ice cream and yoghurt.

“We took our Beri Da products to a trade fair at Venue Cymru in Llandudno, and people were giving us great feedback. Most of the caterers had never heard of aronia berries, but once we explained the health benefits and they tasted the product they were smitten.

“After having such a great day, I decided to stop off at Signatures on the way home to show them the products. The chefs were absolutely fantastic and really liked the fruity vinegar – they gave us a demonstration of how they could use it in their dishes. I was delighted to learn that they actually used it on their Mothering Sunday menu, only a few days later!”

Beri Da chutneys are produced in 200ml and 140ml sizes, while the fruity vinegar is available in 100ml bottles.

 Victoria is now working on extending the range of chutneys to include beetroot and chilli varieties, and said the support received from Cywain had been invaluable in getting the products up and running.

“The support we’ve had from Cywain has been fantastic. We’ve only been working with them for six months, but they’ve helped us immensely in that short time.

“From assisting us in getting our products and branding right to identifying places where we can retail the products, they’ve helped us to focus on making the most of the products we’re really proud of. We really couldn’t have got so far without them. I’d urge anyone who has a food or drink product idea in Wales, to get in touch with them!”

Nia Môn, Cywain’s Development Manager, said: “Beri Da is a brand new Welsh company that have turned their primary product into a small commercial venture.

Time and time again, Cywain is working with ordinary people who have tasty quality Welsh ingredients, and need a helping hand to turn that core ingredient into a Welsh branded product ready for the market.

 “It’s a pleasure to guide enthusiastic individuals like Victoria and Angela who are ambassadors for the Welsh food and drink industry through this whole process.

 “We are extremely fortunate to be surrounded by quality ingredients here in Wales, and offering individuals and small rural businesses a helping hand to step onto the food and drink industry ladder to boost the local economy.”

Beri Da will be showcasing at the Farm Shop and Deli Show with Cywain at the NEC in Birmingham later this month as part of a contingent of Welsh producers promoting Wales’ food and drink.

 For advice on adding value to primary produce, or more information on the support on offer from Cywain, visit www.cywain.com.

Our latest tweets