Tyrrells Chips - a triumph for independent producers
Last updated 2/15/2008 12:20:36 AM
Back in 1992, William Chase's dreams of the rural life in Herefordshire seemed to be in tatters, when he was forced to declare Tyrrells Court Farm bankrupt. By 2005, he had turned the farm around, turning over more than £1 million from the sale of his Tyrrells Potato Chips.
There was a lot at stake. Tyrrells Court Farm had been in the family for many years. William had bought the farm from his father with a hefty bank loan in the 80s, but found himself heavily in debt when potato prices were squeezed by large supermarket chains.
"Tesco finished us as a potato farmer, so we got into the specialty crisp trade," says William. Not surprisingly William chose to supply only independent retailers with his new product. Inspiration came from independent chip makers in the Amish community of Pennsylvania, as well as the familiar Kettle Chips. Tyrrells does not shy away from experimenting with flavours. Asparagus with Black Pepper, Duck with Orange and Ginger, and for Valentine's Day, Strawberry, Sweet Chilli and White Wine, for which 10% of the sales generated will be donated to Breast Cancer Haven.
When Tesco sourced the chips from a wholesaler and started stocking the brand on its shelves, Tyrrells politely requested that they be withdrawn. William said he was prepared to deal with Waitrose, the major supermarket chain operated by the John Lewis Partnership, because of its fair dealings with local producers.
Tyrrells is also producing an organic vodka using the potatoes that are too small to be made into chips. William Chase is hoping for another win for independent retailers and producers.