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July 14, 2021

UK desserts business Cardium Products eyes rapid growth

After renaming its Freaks of Nature brand, the firm wants to double sales in its next two financial years.

UK dairy-free desserts business Cardium Products is aiming to double its sales in each of its next two full financial years.

Yorkshire-based Cardium Products has renamed its Freaks of Nature brand as Over The Spoon and believes the relaunch, as well as the company’s recent capital expenditure, will drive revenues.

In the year to March, the company generated sales of GBP2m (US$2.8m) “there or thereabouts”, Tim Wild, the firm’s UK MD said, up from GBP1.5m 12 months earlier.

Wild, who joined last year from bakery business Frank Roberts & Sons, believes the company can hit GBP8m in sales in its 2022/23 financial year.

“We want to be – and are budgeting to be – north of GBP4m in our current financial year and then to do it again in 22/23, so we see ourselves at GBP8m at the end of that,” he told Just Food.

Branded products account for around 70% of sales. The renamed Over The Spoon brand is hitting Tesco stores this month, with Asda to follow in August. The company had also secured listings at Sainsbury’s and Morrisons with Freaks of Nature and Wild is hopeful the new brand will go on sale in the UK’s four main grocers by October.

“[Sainsbury’s and Morrisons] are still weighing it up but I hope very soon we’ll be able to say full steam ahead,” he said. “I certainly hope that by the time we get to back-to-school time, into maybe early October, you know we’ll be in all the major mults.”

The relaunch and rebranding of Freaks of Nature came after Wild commissioned research into how UK consumers viewed the dairy-free desserts products available in the country.

“I decided that we needed to go and explore the consumer opportunity probably in a more systematic way than we have done before,” he said, explaining how the research showed UK shoppers thought products were too expensive and that there is not enough choice.

The business’ investment in capex has enabled it to lower prices, while it has also worked on NPD, Wild said. “How do we present ourselves into this market was the next point. What we’re seeking to do with Over The Spoon is to be a brand that could be a mainstream dessert brand. We’re not looking to be a niche, we’re not looking to be tucked away in a corner in a free-from cabinet or shelf. We believe that we have a brand, which is now able to belong, and look as if it belongs. Prices, which are getting closer, not there yet, getting closer to belonging in amongst mainstream dairy brands.”

Wild also said buyers had argued labelling a dairy-free dessert product as ‘plant-based’ “probably doesn’t work in this category as a sort of lead descriptor”.

He added: “It works extremely well in meat alternatives. ‘Plant-based’ makes a lot of sense. When people think about a tasty, indulgent, creamy dessert, they’re not really thinking about plants. I think that’s probably the same in ice cream. That’s not our category today, so that’s why we’re very much describing ourselves now as dairy-free.”

The business, set up in 2016, is not set to reach break-even in this financial year, with investment in marketing planned. “We will be investing significantly in our new brand, not just one level up from where we were with Freaks of Nature but I would say two or three levels from where we were,” Wild said.

“We’re certainly going to go for it. We’re going to invest behind this new brand because we have to do that part, we have to drive a rate of sale, which motivates retailers to give us that space and that opportunity.

“Whilst we have made significant gains in productivity, we’ve invested it back into price and we’ve invested into above-the-line and below-the-line marketing plans. Growth is more important to us. If we were to generate productivity gains, we will almost certainly reinvest them back into the brand, rather than take it on the bottom line. We’ve got a lot of investment to do.”

For now, the business remains UK-focused, although Wild believes some of the company’s new products could appeal in overseas markets. “Unlike the hot-eat desserts, which have got a very sort of British feel to them – a Belgian chocolate mousse; I can see that working in export markets. A zingy lemon cheesecake, I can see that working in export markets,” he said.

“I think our new offerings lends itself more to export, and we do get a lot of calls from people who would like to help. When is the right time? The right time is not right now. When it’s the right time, I think we’ve got that opportunity.”

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