Meet the producer: The Proper Marmalade Company
Victoria Cranfield is the founder and managing director of The Proper Marmalade Company – a small artisan producer specialising in traditional and non traditional marmalade which has picked up a raft of Great Taste awards over the years.
What were you doing before you launched The Proper Marmalade Company?
I’ve had a winding career path, from antique dealer to lawyer to cook. Immediately prior to The Proper Marmalade Company, I had a small preserve business called Cranfields Foods, the Proper Marmalade Company morphed out of that.
Why did you decide to launch the brand?
The nutritional labelling requirement was coming into law and all the labels needed re-thinking. My daughter had long been a critic of my branding and as marmalade was our growth area it was a good time to experiment and see if she could come up with better. We came up with the concept; she ran with it and designed the brand. Sales went up four-fold almost overnight. Everything else dropped by the wayside so we could keep up with demand.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned since starting the business?
Other than the fact that daughters can be more perceptive than mothers, you need to listen to your customers. Some of my best ideas for flavours have come from them.
What makes your preserves stand out from others on the market?
We only buy fresh fruit and make the marmalades properly. We prep the fruit and then we make the marmalade just as I used to at home. In saucepans you can be making 22 jars a time, only now we have six saucepans on the go in rotation.
You have an expansive range with some interesting combinations – what inspires these creations?
I have always been a curious cook with a good taste memory. I’m fascinated by taste combinations. We make marmalades for other brands (provided the Proper Marmalade Company gets an attribution on the label), they will ask for specific flavours – that sends me down a rabbit hole of experimentation, which I love.
Why is it important to you to use traditional methods in the production of your preserves?
I want the marmalades to be as close to the fruit as possible, recognised and enjoyed by people who have made their own. The fruit has a greater liveliness when cooked from fresh; I can taste the difference and want to be proud of what we produce.
What is the best thing about being a small business?
You can manage your time, make decisions without committee, and move quickly.
…and the worst?
Paperwork and logistics when you have to rely on others, and having no-one to blame other than yourself when things go wrong.
What’s next for The Proper Marmalade Company?
I’m not sure, the pandemic has changed my thinking but I haven’t crystallised a plan as yet. Thankfully we have a busy cooking period up to Christmas. I’m sure a plan will have formed by then.