Clarks UK Ltd has become the biggest producer and supplier of maple syrup in the UK, capturing 60 per cent of the market in just three years.
The Wales-based firm supplies all the big four supermarket groups of Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons and is now eyeing up lucrative markets across Europe.
More than 12,000 bottles of pure and blended Clarks Maple Syrup roll off the production line each day at the company’s plant on the Queensway Meadow Industrial Estate in Newport, Gwent, where 15 different products are manufactured and supplied to both the consumer and industrial markets.
Hotels, restaurants, cafes, schools and hospitals, as well as bread, cake, meat and other food manufacturers across the UK are also supplied with maple syrup, honey and other products from Clarks, whose turnover of £3.3m for 2011 has doubled in the space of just 12 months.
But Clarks managing director and founder, Bob Clark, said the potential for further growth in the UK was “substantial” as British consumers were rapidly discovering the benefits of maple syrup as one of the world’s lesser-known superfoods.
“The burgeoning UK market for maple syrup is currently worth around £10m – half of what it is in Germany. Our aim is to take that market and triple it, with an initial target of achieving a £10m turnover within the next five years,” said Bob.
The maple syrup manufacturing process begins in the Quebec region of Canada where the sap is harvested from hundreds of thousands of maple trees. About 100 drums of the raw syrup arrives at the Clarks processing plant every month to be either blended with Carob syrup from Spain, or bottled as pure maple syrup.
“We are currently producing more than two million bottles of blended maple syrup each year as well as 300,000 bottles of pure maple syrup, and both have exactly the same health benefits,” added Bob.
“But we believe there is a big opportunity to grow this market quite substantially, finding new customers as well as innovating with new flavours and developing new products for the supermarket sector. We are also working closely with the Welsh Government on researching potential new markets elsewhere in Europe, notably in France, Scandinavia and Belgium.”
Clarks Maple Syrup is already on the shelves of 1,800 Tesco stores, 500 Sainsbury’s, all 420 Asda supermarkets and all 450 branches of Morrisons. The company is currently talking to one of the other major supermarket groups and has also recently signed a honey supply contract with the Poundland chain.
“We will be taking our first steps into Europe in 2012 by attending two of the major food trade shows in Spain and France and will be looking to increase staff numbers in the new year to cater for an anticipated increase in demand for orders in the UK,” said Bob, who launched the business in 2008.