Pies going viral

Keen on establishing itself as a premium pork pie brand, Vale of Mowbray is looking to promote its treats across delis and farm shops, while actively using social media to engage with wider audiences

Many will argue that, in a globalised world, the distinct character of a regional locale has somewhat waned, giving place to a more uniformed, urbanised culture. In sharp contrast to this tendency, Vale of Mowbray has always proudly defended its origins. Staying true to its roots, the Leeming Bar pork pie producer recently came up with a tagline that emphatically epitomises Yorkshire and the values held by the people living there.

“Indeed, the slogan ‘Pies made right’ is in the spirit of what someone from this part of the world might say,” affirms Vale of Mowbray’s Operations Director, Mark Gatenby. “It gets straight to the point that what we do up here, is being done with the best of intention to make it right. By this we do not mean just the pork pies themselves, but our overall approach to the business. This includes the way we treat the people we are working with – be it colleagues, customers, and suppliers – as we base our professional relationships around respect and ethical behaviour.”

The new tagline is just one of the several marketing initiatives Vale of Mowbray has undertaken as part of its objective to raise awareness of the brand. Mark details: “First and foremost, it is our objective to create greater awareness that Vale of Mowbray is a premium brand and one that you can trust, and as part of that further development we are targeting outlets such as delis and farm shops. In the meantime, of course, we will continue holding talks with our major customers and various other outlets. In essence, we would like to generate strong interest mainly from other sectors and, hopefully, this will then bring all types of retailers to our door with requests to stock Vale products.”

To meet its objective, Vale of Mowbray intends on regularly adding to its range and growing its presence on social media. “The two are related to each other, more or less, because when we release a new flavour, this will then enable us to promote it actively on social media platforms, as well as on our own website,” Mark says. “We have definitely started paying a lot more attention to the opportunities provided by the digital world in the past 12 months, running competitions for our online community and sponsoring different events. We have even just engaged the services of a digital marketing expert whose role will be to enhance our brand on the web.

“Not long ago, we launched two new flavours – piccalilli pork and spicy piccalilli pork pies. Our customers want variety, they want to try new things and this is our response to their demands,” he moves onto the product side of the business. “There is no doubt that the traditional pork pie remains a best seller for us, but the range involving pickles, such as pork and pickle and cheese and pickle, have grown massively over the last year. We are very keen on developing rather exotic flavours, in order to attract younger customers to our brand. More than anyone, they want to have a choice and, having done our research, the new piccalilli pork flavour was singled out as one that would pique young people’s interest.”

In preparation for the increased demand for its pies around the festive period last year, Vale of Mowbray took to expanding its packaging capacity by 50 per cent, partnering with Whitely-based supplier KernPack. “We had previously invested in two flow wrappers from Italian manufacturer GSP (General System Pack) and we were incredibly pleased with the reliability of the machines. Recently, we went out to the market to source a UK supplier of a GSP 75 EVO, which can wrap at speeds up to 400 packs per minute, and we came to the conclusion that KernPack was the right choice,” Mark discusses.

With the bakery offering around 40 different products, the new flow wrapper had to be able to accommodate various types of tray and film. “The flexibility of the GSP machine was our main requirement when we were looking for new equipment. The ease and speed of changeover were crucial, as we wanted to reduce downtime as much as possible,” Mark continues. “KernPack did an excellent job for us and the whole process of getting the machine installed, commissioned, and up-and-running went without a hitch. The flow wrapper is delivering the results we expected it to deliver, but I also think that its fast integration was further facilitated by the fact that we had worked with such a machine before and knew how to make the most of its properties.”

Pursuing a ten per cent sales growth in 2019, Vale of Mowbray has already booked its place at a number of shows and festivals in Yorkshire where the pie producer will display its products and seek greater exposure to the public. “We will be at the Great Yorkshire Show, as well as at a beer festival in the region towards the end of May. I am quite positive about our prospects in the near future as I can see that a lot of the businesses we are working with, want to grow the brand with us, and we look forward to deepening our collaboration with them.

“Last but not least, new products will soon be added to our range and while I cannot tell you much about them, one should be out in September, followed by others at regular intervals. In the meantime, do not forget to stay tuned on social media for all the information of what we are up to,” Mark concludes with a clear call to action to Vale of Mowbray’s ever-growing fan base.