Former Avana Bakeries and Memory Lane Cakes MD Mike Woods has set up a new firm making nut-free celebration cakes.
The Just Love Food Company, which began production at a 12,500sq ft factory near Black-wood in Wales this month, has already struck a 12-week exclusive deal with Sainsbury’s, which will see cakes in 200 Sainsbury’s stores UK-wide. The branded 7-inch hand-decorated cakes feature a monster or a princess design and will retail in the ambient cake aisle.
After the exclusive period Just Love Food will be able to supply other retailers. It also plans to target foodservice markets, such as coffee shops and the health service, with individually wrapped nut-free products, such as cupcakes and brownies.
Woods set up the company after struggling to find products on the market suitable for his two children with nut allergies. "One in 55 children has a nut allergy and the larger players find it hard to do nut-free, because their factories handle nuts. My wife and I found it particularly difficult when it came to sourcing birthday cakes, as all supermarket birthday cakes carry warnings that make the products ’not suitable for nut allergy sufferers’," he said.
The business was set up with the help of £150,000 funding from the Enterprise Finance Guarantee Scheme, secured by Natwest. It also secured £250,000 from Finance Wales, which provides commercial funding for Welsh businesses.
Woods said he looked at 32 different bakery sites before settling on the unit near Blackwood. "One of our key requirements was securing a site that had never handled nuts. We looked at some factories that were kitted out for our requirements, but we couldn’t guarantee they had never handled nuts, so we went for a unit that was only five years old and was previously used for storage of non-food items."