A Cumbrian firm is challenging the big boys in the baby formula business – and its founder says its unique product is a winner.
Today, Kendal Nutricare, which makes Kendamil, has revealed it is creating 15 jobs to help it cope with demand.
Sales have increased by 850 per cent in the UK and it is now stocked in Tesco – rubbing shoulders with the likes of ‘big boys’ Cow & Gate and SMA.
Ross McMahon, founder and chief executive, says the business is going from strength to strength.
Still celebrating its 2020 Queen’s Award for Enterprise – due to COVID-19 the presentation at Windsor Castle takes place next month – Ross also reveals that a £5 million investment is imminent at the plant.
What makes Kendamil so special is its ingredients, Ross says.
He says the major brands use non-dairy ingredients, vegetable and fish oils and cereals.
But Kendamil is produced using locally sourced full-fat dairy and other ingredients within an hour of the Kendal factory.
While the science behind creating formula is complex – “It’s not as simple as putting the dairy straight in the formula,” says Ross – the natural ingredients are proving a hit with Generation Z.
Its formula was used by the Royal Family – the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge chose the brand to feed Prince Louis.
Kendal Nutricare keeping it in the family
Kendal Nutricare took on the former Heinz factory in Kendal and created baby food for the multi-national brand.
In 2018, Kendal Nutricare took the decision to stop working with Heinz, which resulted in the loss of 18 jobs.
Ross says: “They were related to the Heinz contract. When we took the decision to stop, we no longer needed a night shift to pack products.
“We decided to concentrate on our brand instead and now we are in a position to expand. and we hope to keep expanding.”
The firm has also become a family business with Ross’ sons Will and Dylan joining the team.
Will joined in 2019. He was working in finance at the time in the USA and his dad asked him to go to an exhibition in Los Angeles for the firm.
Ross says: “He said afterwards ‘Dad, you’ve got a really good product here. They haven’t got anything like this in America’. I said ‘I’ve been telling you this for years!’
“Then Dylan, who was working for a software firm in America joined last year.
“They’ve brought a new element to the business with their backgrounds. We have creative teams here, extra finance has been brought in. It’s great.”
Innovation is key
Kendamil is now on shelves of 3,000 shops – up from 1,000 – and is continuing to innovate.
As well as a goats’ milk version, it also produces versions of formula that are organic, kosher, vegetarian and halal.
Ross is also excited about the launch tomorrow of a new liquid version in a 70ml bottle, which he predicts will be a gamechanger.
“I think this will turbocharge the market and help people make a decision when they chose what formula to use.
“We realised the bigger brands were doing it – and mothers were taking them to hospital as a starter pack. We needed to launch our own version.”