After migrating to New Zealand in 2005 British expat Carole Barker missed the taste of home so much she started making authentic English pork pies for her family and close friends.
Recognising a gap in the market for old fashioned products, Barker decided to retail her pies at local farmers markets under the Mowbray Fine Foods brand. The company name pays homage to Melton Mowbray in Leicestershire, widely acknowledged as the UK home of the English pork pie.
“We decided to focus on traditional English food, as baked by our family, and we have continued to utilise original tried and tested recipes passed down to us over several generations,” she says.
Mowbray pies are available in three sizes – 145gm, 310gm and 450gm – and are made using a hand operated pork pie press, before being baked and filled with an aspic jelly. They are also manufacturers of Potted Beef Spread and Chicken & Brandy Pate with plans for more traditional pie variations in the pipeline for the coming year.
“Our products differ in that we don’t cut corners or sacrifice quality for increased profit. We stick faithfully to the demands of the original recipes and use only local, top quality ingredients and methods in making them. We will not freeze our pies to give the retailer a longer ‘shelf life’ as this adversely affects the quality of the product; we prefer to supply fresh product on a weekly.”
Barker’s hard work is beginning to pay dividends and last year saw Mowbray Fine Foods take home a coveted Cuisine Artisan award. She says the recognition has been a positive experience for the relatively new company.
“It has created exposure and awareness for our products in a relatively short space of time and has opened up market sectors we would have been working towards for longer. Customers have gained confidence to try our products with the Artisan Award recognising the authenticity and quality of our English pork pie.”
Barker says the tough economic environment is partly responsible for the growth of artisan products along with the increasing recognition of authentic producers offering alternative ‘honest’ products to the consumer.
“Additionally the Artisan awards and the upsurge in farmers markets across New Zealand have brought to the forefront an awareness that there are serious contenders out there with well researched and locally produced products.”
Mowbray Fine Foods currently supply 21 New World supermarkets for Foodstuffs South Island and Wellington and are in talks with Foodstuffs Auckland.