Recognised Quality

Producing over 615,000,000 bowls of cereal per year, Bokomo Foods (UK) Ltd. manufactures many different types of cereals and packaging, which it sells to clients that include some of the UK’s leading supermarkets

Bokomo Foods (UK) Ltd. is owned by the South African based enterprise Pioneer Foods and first entered into the UK cereal market during September 2000, through a joint venture with the Australian company Sanitarium. The joint venture was known as Grain Health Foods (UK) Ltd. until 2004, when Pioneer Foods acquired the remaining shares in the organisation and renamed the business to Bokomo Foods. At this time the company only produced wheat biscuits, however during 2005 Belso Cereal was added to the business and Bokomo entered into the wider cereal market. “Strategically we knew that it was important for the company to widen its product portfolio beginning with the acquisition of Belso Cereal,” explains Bokomo Foods CEO, John Hiles. “More recently we acquired Streamfoods Holdings and its Fruit Bowl brand during August 2016, including the company’s production facility in Wisbech and have started selling ‘Harvest Cheweee’ cereal bars as of 1 August 2016. While research and product development are key to our future plans, so too are the staff and manufacturing needs. As a result, the plan will be to invest in training, development and manufacturing capabilities, all set to position Fruit Bowl as the UK’s leader in the fruit snacking industry.”

The deal to acquire Streamfoods Holdings was valued at around £7.5 million and was in line with Pioneer’s strategy of bolstering the company’s product range in the UK with further branded options. Stream Foods employs around 98 people at its factory in Wisbech, with its products reaching clients throughout Europe and China. The company’s Fruit Bowl range includes products such as dried fruit bars, fruit bars and yogurt covered fruit snacks. “This acquisition is in keeping with the stated strategic intent of acquiring and bolstering Pioneer Foods’ product portfolio in the UK with a branded proposition, namely Fruit Bowl,” comments Pioneer Foods CEO, Phil Roux. “The transaction will augment and leverage our UK private label portfolio and our recently upgraded manufacturing capabilities.”

Bokomo currently operates three manufacturing sites across the UK located in Peterborough, Wellingborough and Wisbech, which allow the company to make products ranging from muesli, granolas, crunch clustered cereal and different formats of oat porridges to flaked cereal products, wheat biscuits and snacking products. During July 2016 Bokomo officially opened its brand new state-of-the-art production facility in the commercial area of Orton Southgate, Peterborough. The new facility is intended to boost the manufacturer’s positive growth trajectory by supplying healthy, tasty and cost effective breakfast cereals to clients within the UK and around the world. “We are hugely excited to have opened our new, large scale site, which we have designed specifically to meet the requirements of a world class breakfast cereal business. The relocation from our old factory has involved careful planning to ensure there is no disruption for our existing customers,” John says. “We operate in such a competitive environment that critical to our future growth was the issue of efficiency and cost. The new factory will allow us to expand and we will improve efficiencies across all areas to enhance the overall offering for our customers.”

Room for expansion
The previous Bokomo plant offered 6000 square metres of space, comprised of a conglomeration of six separate industrial units. The development of the new site has tripled the amount of available space while housing the entire facility under one roof, meaning that operations have been streamlined and energy efficiency across the entire production cycle has been dramatically improved. The construction of the factory was completed in May 2016 following an investment of over £2 million by Pioneer Foods. Transition planning was undertaken over the course of six months and the site became fully operation in June 2016. As a result of the development of the facility, Bokomo has also invested in the acquisition of new machinery with a view to maintain its record for constantly meeting customer lead times. The company currently produces more than ten million bowls of cereal per week for all of the major supermarket chains and the new factory will enable Bokomo to more than double the production capacity of its previous facility. “The installation of a new oven means we’ve been able to increase our baking capacity and a high-speed machine has allowed for increases in packaging capacity, as well as more than 7000 pallet spaces, the business has plenty of room for expansion,” John says.

Throughout its history Bokomo Foods has continued to invest into its facilities and product portfolio with a focus of ensuring the highest levels of quality across all of its cereal products. This has resulted in the company receiving several accolades over the years, such as winning two awards at the Good Choice! Quality Food Awards and the Quality Food Awards at London’s Grosvenor House Hotel during November 2015. The company was recognised as the winner of the winner of the ‘Cereals’ category in the Good Choice! Quality Food Awards for its production of Asda’s Good & Balanced Pumpkin & Mango Granola product line. Bokomo Foods was also highly commended in the ‘Cereals’ category in the Quality Food Awards for its production of Tesco Finest Red Berry Granola. The awards are some of the most respected awards within the food and beverage industry and represent the best grocery products on the market throughout the UK. Each of these awards are highly competitive and are known for their rigorous judging and strict criteria. “This is a fantastic achievement for Bokomo and I am delighted that yet again we have demonstrated our expertise as the UK’s leading cereal manufacturer,” John exclaimed at the time. “Our team is the strength behind our success and we have great relationships with all the big supermarket chains and will continue to work together on producing high quality cereal for the UK market.”

Award wins
During 2016 Bokomo Foods has continued to build on its previous success by winning the Food & Drink Manufacturer of the year category at the Central & East of England Manufacturing Awards. “This really represents us striving for excellence. We all work hard and are proud in what we do,” John says. “The work environment is such that everybody can work to the full potential and through that we strive to delight the consumers that enjoys eating the products we make. This award is a recognition for all the effort and hard work.”

Quality reputation
Although the market in the cereals sector is relatively challenging, Bokomo Foods has a proven reputation for quality and a significant market presence that will help the business to achieve a strategic growth trajectory over the coming years. “The recent market has been fairly difficult because of the price pressures that have been brought on commodities as well as the selling price of cereals. As a result it is a very competitive market where the product quality, service and price differentiate you from your competitors and we are good at that. If you look at market data then the cereal market is flat both in value and volume, when combining Mintel data and our supply data to the trade discount,” John concludes. “The coming months will be challenging, especially with the additional pressure of the devaluation of the pound and its impact on commodity prices. However I am a firm believer in that if we stand together as a company and do what we do better, we will be able to maintain our strategic growth plan.”