A classic twist
With flavours ranging from classic lightly salted to more adventurous options including its hugely popular crispy bacon and maple syrup, Portlebay Popcorn manufactures a range of popcorn products that combine a familiar treat with high quality and a unique twist
Since the company was originally incorporated in 2012, Portlebay Popcorn has developed as a small Devonbased business that delivers big taste with its exciting range of both sweet and savoury popcorn varieties. Founded on the promise to deliver great tasting, fun and interesting food, Portlebay Popcorn originally launched with five flavours in 2013 comprised of its Classic Slightly Sweet and Lightly Salted; Crispy Bacon and Maple Syrup; Chilli and Lime; Wasabi and Sweet Ginger; and Orchard Wood Smoked Cheddar varieties. During the following year the company introduced a further three lines in a sweetened range of popcorn in response to continued consumer interest. These flavours included its innovative Cinnamon Swirl, Very Berry and Lemon Sherbet packs, which were soon followed by its exotic Cappuccino line.
While Portlebay Popcorn first began production during 2013, the development of the company was actually some years in the making. The decision to establish the business was taken by the former Burt’s Potato Chips employees Jonty White, Neil Adams and Steve Wardlaw as early as 2008. Key to the formation of Portlebay Popcorn was the ambition to develop a unique and high quality product, which led to the invention of the company’s Kracklecorn popcorn. “Jonty, Steve and myself had actually decided to form Portlebay Popcorn some time ago after perceiving a surge in popcorn in the US, however during 2008 popcorn was not really on consumers’ radar here in the UK. We therefore decided to hold off for a short time and by 2012 the timing for us as individuals was right as we were all leaving Burt’s for one reason or another. During that year we took another trip to America and ordered all of the relevant equipment and located a factory space here in Devon, before finally beginning production in 2013,” explains Portlebay Popcorn Director and Co-Founder, Neil Adams. “We decided that we would make our product unique by cooking it in oil and raw cane sugar, which gives the product a real crunch that we felt was lacking in existing popcorn products. All of our initial popcorn lines also included a sweet and savoury element, which was unlike anything else on the market at the time.”
Cooked by hand
Unlike many competing companies within the snack popcorn sector, Portlebay Popcorn is able to fully manufacture all of its own products, rather than relying on third party brand label producers. This allows the company to employ cutting edge manufacturing equipment to completely control production and guarantee the highest levels of quality. “We initially purchased a brand new production line of six small hand popping kettles, which are manned by a single member of staff who hand feeds the corn product, sugar and oil and allows the corn to pop before sending the popcorn along the production line to be seasoned. These kettles were purchased from C. Cretors & Company in the US, which represents the popcorn industry’s leading manufacturer of production equipment,” Neil explains. “We also worked with a local Devon-based company to develop a bespoke piece of equipment that removes sugar lumps and un-popped corn kernels from the production line. While there is nothing wrong with these unpopped kernels, we wanted to make sure that the customer only receives premium popcorn in each bag. The new equipment has a huge success rate and eliminates 99.9 per cent of these unwanted elements from the production line.”
Presently Portlebay Popcorn sells its products to a broad demographic of customers who are looking to enjoy a familiar snack that delivers a unique flavour experience. The company’s Crispy Bacon and Maple Syrup line has been so successful that one of the UK’s leading supermarkets has recently introduced its own version of the product. However, for consumers looking for the original and the best product that is manufactured inhouse for the most satisfying results, Portlebay Popcorn is available from a growing base of retailers. “We currently sell to independent delis, farm shops and retailers, as well as directly to the customer through Amazon.co.uk. We have a huge network of wholesalers that filter out to our independent clients and have begun to supply larger multiple stores such as Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Booths in the north of England and Budgens throughout the UK,” Neil concludes. “Most of our feedback comes back through social media, which continues to help us deliver new products. We are keen to grow and in the future export will become more of a focus alongside increasing our presence in larger chains throughout the UK.”