When you imagine a factory, I wonder what you visualise. For me, it was conveyor belts, robots and noise. But when PPM was given the chance to meet Bucktons Brand Manager Kirk Rothwell at the bird care factory in Driffield, East Yorkshire and have a tour, we couldn’t resist.
Just a couple of months ago, Bucktons achieved the highest food safety standard accreditation from the British Retail Consortium – the AA Grade. Once inside the factory, we could see why. Everything has its place and traceability is key. We asked Kirk, why will this grading set them apart?
"We have held the highest accreditation from the BRC for the last seven years, across a stringent set of criteria, covering everything from processes, hygiene and safety, to full traceability of ingredients. To achieve the newly created AA grade from the BRC, sets us above the competition and this standard means both retailers and shoppers can trust our products to be the best quality in the UK.” The facility recently underwent a £1.5m investment to manufacture suet products and now produces 99 percent of its own food range in-house.
We were given the full factory tour starting with a lab area that resembles a sweet shop – albeit one containing nuts and fruit. Everything is catalogued and great emphasis is placed upon knowing the origins of all the ingredients used in the process, right down to the smallest grain.
This room is quiet but it’s one of the most important places in the building. Heading out of there, we went into the warehouse, which has a huge capacity able to service the needs of larger retailers such as Pets at Home to the smaller ones. Stacked high, you’ll find all of the company’s best loved products – most of which I wanted to take home! Priding themselves on quality suet products, I was able to pick up some of the suet balls as they popped out of the machine – it was amazing to see how well formed they were and feel the quality of them. Every process inside the factory is perfectly orchestrated – watching the packing whizz around to be filled with product and then sealed was mesmerising. Of course, machines and robots play a huge part in the manufacturing process but Bucktons doesn’t rely on machines, with humans keeping a close eye on quality control.
If something doesn’t look right, it won’t make it through. With a real finger on the pulse of technology, it’s amazing to think that the company began 200 years ago when George Buckton founded a general mechants company in Hull.
This was the man who was known for shipping produce and exotic ingredients from distant lands. The company was sold on to the Hutchinson family in the early 20th century, but it wasn’t until the 1960s, that it became a staple of the pet industry and developed into the business we know today.
Known primarily for its bird food, the company became part of Westland Horticulture in 2012.
Today, Bucktons’ range of aviary bird food is extremely popular. Its canary food and parrot food in particular include Spiralife – a sort of superfood for birds. Containing added vitamins A+D, anti-oxidants and calcium, it’s a far cry from the cuttlefish granny used to feed Polly!
Visiting the factory and meeting all the people that help create these premium products is a great reminder of just how important it is to fuse technology with people power, heritage with innovation and great packaging with an even greater product.
So next time a customer comes into your shop asking for birdfood for wild – or aviary birds, you’ll be able to tell them the story behind Bucktons and why this AA rating should matter to them. Traceability is a hot issue and one that every food business must embrace.
To find out more about the range or to stock Bucktons products, please visit: www.bucktons.co.uk.