Wales’ first home-grown garlic bread aims for a slice of lucrative UK bread market

31 March 2015

A family-run food company in north Wales is looking to take a slice of the £351million* speciality bread market with Wales’ first home-grown garlic bread.

Taking two years to develop and using ingredients grown and sourced by a new branch of the Hooton family business ‘Anglesey Garlic’ in Brynsiencyn, the rustic garlic baguette has gone on sale in farm shops across North Wales.

The artisan, Go Garlic branded breadcreated by the Hooton family is the company’s flagship product and uses a secret variety of home-grown Anglesey garlic and Halen Môn Anglesey Sea Salt.

The new garlic bread product also ties in with the UK's burgeoning speciality breads market, which grew by 8.2 per cent to more than £351million when the last figures were released in 2012.

A number of other garlic-inspired products are also in development by the company after the family received support from Cywain, a project created to bring added value to primary produce within the Welsh agricultural sector.

James Hooton said that he believes his garlic baguette is the first in Wales to be produced for mass retail and food service and hopes it will be the first in a number of successful Go Garlic branded products.

Working with a well-known north Wales company - Blas ar Fwyd in the Conwy Valley, Go Garlic bread is now being distributed across Wales and beyond.

James said: “We’ve been farming here since the early 1960s, and growing garlic for about ten years to supply our two farm shops, Hooton’s Homegrown Brynsiencyn, Anglesey and Hooton’s Homegrown at Fron Goch Garden Centre Llanfaglan, Caernarfon. We have recently started growing more garlic with the aim of adding value to the product.

“Our Go Garlic artisan garlic baguette is the first product we’re launching. Garlic bread is an obvious choice for our flagship product; it’s the first product you think of when it comes to garlic, and is loved by people of all ages.

“We use a really generous amount of garlic, more than you would find in an average shop-bought garlic bread, and make them with a mix of wheat and rye flour which gives it a really traditional taste and texture. The baguettes are rustic in appearance and each one is unique.

“We approached Cywain for support a couple of years ago when we first had the idea of developing the Anglesey Garlic side to the business. They’ve been a great help in a number of ways, and were even able to source market intelligence for the garlic bread sector,” James explains.

Market research undertaken by Cywain whilst developing the product showed that garlic bread is a regular feature on shopping lists but the sector is dominated by retailer own label brands. Premium brands are few and far between and there was a gap in the market for a rustic Welsh garlic bread.

“The support we’ve had has been fantastic, and we’re now working on a number of other products with Cywain’s backing.”

Having launched the garlic bread, the team are now working on a garlic and onion savoury marmalade, and have plans to increase production of its best-selling garlic mash and garlic  roast potatoes, which are already available in small batches in the company’s farm shops.

The garlic bread is available in some of North Wales’ leading independent food stores, including Rhug Estate Farm Shop near Corwen and Bodnant Welsh Food Centre near Conwy.

Hooton’s home grown Anglesey garlic, which James believes is the only commercially grown crop in Wales, can reach up to six inches in diameter – significantly larger than average shop-bought imported garlic.

The garlic is planted in the autumn by hand, and is left to grow over the winter months. It is then harvested in July and put into glasshouses, which create a Mediterranean atmosphere, allowing the garlic to dry during August.

Nia Môn, Cywain’s Development Manager, said the Go Garlic venture was a fantastic example of how to add value to primary produce.

Nia said: “The Hooton family has shown how there are multiple ways of adding value to produce grown in Wales.

“Over the last couple of years we’ve helped James access a variety of support, from marketing assistance to product development.

“Garlic is a niche product in Wales, and James and his team are doing a fantastic job of developing innovative new products and maximising the potential of home-grown produce. A gap was identified in the market and Go Garlic is responding to that with the launch of this garlic bread. Anyone can grow garlic in small quantities, but to grow it commercially and to the quality they have achieved takes a lot of dedication and expertise.”

For further information on the Go Garlic range, visit www.hootonshomegrown.co.uk or email info@gogarlic.co.uk

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

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