The 2011 National Fruit Show saw its first ever Supreme Champion Juice winner. Hill Farm Juice from Hill Farm on the Hampshire Downs where owners Chris and Carol Mason believe the micro-climate they experience is brilliant for growing apples and pears.
The family-owned business has been making apple juice at the farm since the 1970s. They have also won Two Star Gold at the 2010 Taste Awards for their Hill Farm Cloudy Apple juice and have twice been Hampshire Life Drinks Producer of the Year.
Their juice is attractively packaged and a great deal of thought and professionalism has been considered with the branding and marketing of their products. The judges saw that the company had invested in innovative point of sale materials but more importantly had embraced digital media and online marketing.
Sofie Boddy of PamLloyd Fresh Produce Marketing & PR, one of the juice judging panel was looking for producers who were widening their market further than ever before, offering national mail order services, mini movies explaining the provenance of their product and websites linking to other relevant businesses and stockists these producers were given the highest marks. Sofie explained: “I wholeheartedly welcome the introduction of this category that looks at the marketing and packaging of the fruit juice. This is critical to the success of any product, whether a big brand or a small artisan product.
“I’m delighted that Hill Farm Juice performed so well across the board – their branding was contemporary and sophisticated, as well as being consistent across their range of products. Their website is easy to use and informative, with added value elements such as free recipes and information about daily life at the farm. However, there’s no room for complacency – as with many of the juices we saw there are plenty more marketing channels for Hill Farm Juice to explore such as social media and online video content, all of which help to engage customers with the brand and help create loyal brand advocates.”
The special anniversary competition was sponsored by ACT Publishing, publisher of industry titles Greenhouse Grower, Vegetable Farmer and The Fruit Grower, who were celebrating the company’s 25th year in business.
The 25th Anniversary competition also attracted additional sponsorship from Bellingham and Stanley a Kent-based company who exhibited for the first time. Hill Farm Juice won a Digital hand-held Refractometer used extensively throughout the food chain. All soft fruit, juices, sodas, cider, beer, jams, marmalades, honey and tomato-based sauces are all quality tested with a refractometer to ensure that the total sugar content is within the required range in order to meet stringent consumer and trading standards requirements.
Robert Oliver, Marden Fruit Show Society Vice Chair and Chief Juice Steward was delighted with the number of entries for the competition in classes 40, 41 and 42. “We had 60 entries this year and 11 new exhibitors which made for a wonderful competition.”
The winning juices were on display during the National Fruit Show and were transported to Harrogate for the post-Show public event at Countryside Live over the weekend. Class 40 – Blended Apple Juice: 1st RH & JC Elgie; 2nd RH & JC Elgie; 3rd Maynard House Orchards Class 41 – Single Variety: 1st Jus Juice; 2nd Hill Farm Juice; 3rd Wobblegates Class 42 – Blended Juices: 1st Hill Farm Juice; 2nd Maynard House Orchard; 3rd RH & JC Elgie.