An Interview with Lucy Jackson of Cheshire Farm Chips
Cheshire Farm Chips have evolved under the stewardship of Lucy Jackson over the past couple of years and I had the opportunity to ask her a few questions about this recently. The company not only makes chips but also roast potatoes and delicious sliced potatoes with rosemary and garlic that only need 20 minutes or so in the oven. Their seasoned wedges went perfectly with homemade burgers and relish adding the cooked in a pub feeling whist at home.
Tell me a little about the history of your business? You have 4 generations of potato farmers in your family which is amazing!
Four generations of my family have lived at the farm and it has become famous for its ‘Cheshire New Potatoes’. My dad Paul was born and raised at Teuthill Farm. He has been planting potatoes since the age of 10 so he knows his stuff and his passion for growing potatoes for local people remains. Twenty years ago my dad and mum, Wendy started to chip their potatoes and sold them to local pubs and restaurants. The chips are additive and gluten free and still taste like a traditional chip.
Your father stated the chip making business 6 years ago and you took over 4 years ago doubling the turnover. Was it your idea to take over or your parents?
5 years ago I finished university and decided I would work in the family business. Firstly, for one year I worked in all aspects of the business to gain a full understanding of the business operations and tasks each job role required. Then, family circumstances meant I took over the business – this was a mutual decision between myself and my parents.
What did you do to double the turnover within 4 years?
I added two new products to our existing range and this allowed us to double our client base. We also started working with a distributor so we could deliver to clients further afield.
Did you introduce the roast potatoes, wedges and sliced potatoes with rosemary and garlic to your offerings?
The roast potatoes were introduced by my mum and dad in the second year and I worked on the wedges and slices as they were my idea.
How are your chips made? Did you have to make significant investment in production to allow the increase in business?
My dad grows and picks the potatoes in our field and then we process and pack them on the farm. The whole process is completed here on site.
What variety of potatoes do you grow and are they all from your own farm?
We grow all our potatoes on the farm, but the variety is trade secret…
What makes Cheshire Chips so popular?
Cheshire potatoes have always been renowned for their excellent taste and quality, so to make chips from these potatoes helped increased their popularity. Our chips taste like a ‘proper’ chip with a good crisp and a fluffy inside.
You supply over 250 businesses – how far are these spread geographically?
From the top of Scotland down to the coast of Cornwall
What are your plans for the future?
I plan to continue to increase brand awareness and sales, and to add at least 3 new product lines to our range each year.
What is the best part of your job?
Working at Cheshire Farm, no two days are the same. There are a lot of good food and drink producers across the country and the ability to come across them, share ideas and be involved in a vast community is enjoyable. However, to work in a family business with a strong history is definitely the best bit.
Do any commercial customers you know of male a Lancashire Hotpot using your Cheshire potatoes?
We supply a large number of customers with a variety of end usages – at the minute I personally don’t know of anyone who does for sure but that does not mean there isn’t.
What is the most inventive dish you have seen one of your products used for?
The most recent inventive dish is our meal idea of Cheshire Farm Spicy Potato BBQ Skewers. They are well suited for the time of year, when the sun is shining it is such a simple but quirky idea to use our spicy potato bites on a skewer with peppers and tomatoes (and meat if desirable). They are perfect for throwing on the BBQ. Our meal ideas can be found on our website at www.cheshirefarmchips.co.uk.
How much new product developed do you do?
We try to launch at least 3 new products a year, because as statistics go not all will be taken up by the market
Is there anything you would like to add?
We have some exciting new ideas for the next 12 months and we will be attending food and drink festivals up and down the country to meet our customers, so keep an eye out for Cheshire Farm products.