Demand for mustard is hotting up and a company which turns the seeds into flour for the iconic Colman’s brand is preparing to take advantage with an expansion of its milling plant on the outskirts of Norwich.
Colman’s famous labels have been rolling off the machines at Condimentum since it built its 25,000 square foot mint and mustard mill on the 100-acre Food Enterprise Park at Honingham Thorpe – one of only three such facilities in the world producing double superfine mustard flour.
Unilever, which owns the historic brand, tasked the embryonic company with replicating the flour used in the making of its famous mustards at the factory when it signed a 10-year supply agreement.
Most of Condimentum’s flour is used in Colman’s products and of the 28 people employed at the site, many transferred from the former factory at Carrow Road when the last bottles rolled off the production line in July 2019. The consortium of local mustard and mint growers also supplies fresh mint that is produced as a mint sauce condiment.
But with rapid growth anticipated in the global market for mustard, it knows it needs to expand and is already installing new equipment so it can start making its own products. Condimentum has plans to add 2,000 acres for the growing of mustard seeds and estimates it could triple in size by 2024.
“We are getting to the point where we are at capacity, so a second mill is on the horizon,” says CEO David Martin. However, there is an important caveat: “We need to be clear and not become all things to all men. The fact we are grower-owned is the key strength of our business.”
Canada is by far the world’s biggest mustard seed grower and is forecast to produce 135,000 tonnes this year. By contrast, the UK is expected to produce 7,500 tonnes. However, in 2025 Canada’s output is projected to fall to 100,000 tonnes and the UK’s to rise to 10,800 tonnes.
The Norfolk company’s growth strategy sees it developing its own Dijon, Wholegrain and French Mustard, and high-fibre, high-protein products using its by-product of bran, as well as developing processing capability to produce other ingredients and sauces. It will also explore the development of mustard as a functional flour and its use as a preservative to extend the shelf-life of other produce.
New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) backed the development of the Food Enterprise Park with an investment of £1m through its Growth Deal with Government, and a grant to Condimentum towards the cost of the new production facility. Last month the LEP saw first-hand the state-of-the-art milling facility.
Elsewhere on the FEP, Fischer Farms is developing a £25m vertical farm which will have 25,000sqm of stacked growing space for salad leaves, herbs and other fresh produce for supermarkets.
Chris Starkie, the LEP’s Chief Executive, says he is delighted to see the progress made by Condimentum and said the business typified the ambition and growth potential of the region’s agri-food sector.
“Seeing this incredible milling process at first-hand and hearing about the company’s plans for the future shows why places like the Food Enterprise Park and the Broadland Food Innovation Centre are needed to encourage and support food production and increase the amount of food processed here,” he says.
“There is a clear opportunity for Condimentum to start making its own mustard pastes and other products and we will do everything we can to support its plans for growth.”
For David Martin who moved with his family from Berkshire to set up the business, the benefits of being located on the Food Enterprise Park are clear.
“It’s not just the collaborative possibilities around food and processes because if you look at the energy it is a combined hit,” he says. “We are going to benefit from the huge energy consumer which is Fischer Farms and by using the Innovation Cluster for product development. But if we can get to the point where we can vertically grow a product we can then generate here, that is going to be a great piece of news in terms of our sustainability.”
To find out more about the Food Enterprise Park, visit https://www.foodenterprisepark.com/