Equipment and infrastructure spend focuses on rapid growth of Fresh Kitchen brand

Fresh Direct has invested £2m at its Bicester site on the back of a fourfold increase in production for its Fresh Kitchen brand.

Fresh Kitchen produces a range of sauces, pickles, slaws, marinades, relishes and desserts for the foodservice industry, and the cash injection includes new equipment and infrastructure as it scales up to meet demand.

The business has also added to its team, with two new developments chefs and one product development executive being added to the existing group.

“Historically, Fresh Kitchen manufactured products for foodservice operators looking to elevate their menu with premium-quality ingredients and finished dishes that were either difficult, or time consuming, for caterers to make in-house,” said James Chilton, manufacturing manager at Fresh Kitchen.

“However, with many operators struggling to attract skilled kitchen staff, we are now seeing demand for a much wider range of products, including many that would previously have been made in-house. We are able to provide caterers with high-quality finished products of great consistency, and an escape from the headache of trying to find and retain staff capable of making these products in-house.”

To meet growing demand, Fresh Kitchen has increased the size of its manufacturing facility by 20 per cent to allow for additional ovens and blast chillers. A further high-volume boiling pan is planned for early 2023.

“We currently have a range of around 400 products in our portfolio, but during any one week we will produce around 70 of those for a variety of different clients,” Chilton added. ”However, the beauty of the way we work is that customers can cherry pick from this selection on the basis that we carry more than 600 ingredients and can turn on production as and when required.

”Growth is currently coming from a number of different product lines, but in particular Bolognese sauce, Beef Bourguignon, and pickles made with ingredients such as cucumber, red onion, and fennel. The latter are particularly popular as we expedite the pickling process and provide a product that is ready to use, as opposed to the customer having to make their own and then wait days for it to ferment.”