Saturday, December 27, 2008

Supply-Side Memo: 'Look What We Found' Sounds Like an Odd Name For A Line of Premium, Prepared Foods; But Read On; It Makes Perfect Sense

British food industry entrepreneur Roger Mckechnie had combined a unique recipe of ingredients -- premium and gourmet, natural, gluten-free, locally-produced, wild-foraged and the use of game meats-- into the creation of his 'Look What We Found' brand of prepared foods, which include ready-meals, soups and sauces at present. Annual sales are £6-million and growing. [Photo Credit: Katie Lee/Sunday Times of London.]

What others are writing: From the Sunday Times of London

Roger Mckechnie had spent most of his career working for the storied British food company United Biscuits, working his way up from a marketing manager for the company to the chief executive of its popular Smith's Crisps' brand.

Born, raised and educated in Northumberland, England, Mckechinie was happy to be able to remain nearby in his job running the Smith's Crisps brand for United Biscuits. However, as often is the case, especially when one performs well, United Biscuits had bigger ideas for the northern England native, and told him they wanted him to move to the south for the company.

He wanted to stay put, despite the fact United Biscuits' told him if he didn't move he would be out of a job in six months, according to a profile of the food industry entrepreneur in tomorrow's Sunday Times of London.

Mckechnie stayed put and left the corporate world to start Derwent Valley Foods, which produced the popular Phileas Fogg tortilla chips in the United Kingdom. Ten years later the corporate food industry executive-turned-entrepreneur sold the company for £24-million (pounds) to none other than his former employer, United Biscuits.

"It was the right time to sell it," he says in the Sunday Times' profile piece. "Once it got to the point where I was employing huge numbers of people and there were politics and organisational issues, I started to lose interest. I'm more of a creative independent."

The "creative independent" bought an old country house, which he converted into an award-winning boutique hotel, after selling Derwent Valley Foods. 'Starting to feel this guy's Midas touch? like we are.'

But the food business remained in the entrepreneur's blood. So in 1999 he went back into the food industry in the UK as a consultant to Northumbria Larder, a group of 60 meat, cheese and game producers.

It's taken the entrepreneur a few years since then to figure out his next new big thing. However, Mckechnie, who went on to launch his current food company, Tanfield Foods in association with these UK meat, game and cheese producers, thinks he's now on to it with his Look What We Found brand of ready-meals (just heat and eat), which feature such interesting varieties as: Herdwick Mutton Stew with Pearl Barley and Root Vegetables; Gloucester Old Spot Pork Meatballs with Butter Beans in a Rich Tomato Sauce; Wild Rabbit in Leek & Elderflower Sauce with Camargue Red Rice; Mushroom Stroganoff with hand-picked Scottish Mushrooms, and a number of other varieties you can view here.

In addition to the line of Look What We Found brand premium ready-meals, the company also markets a line of gourmet soups under the brand name. Some of the varieties in the prepared soup product line are: Country Cured Ham in Delicious Pea Soup, Tweedside Honey in English Parsnip Soup, English Tomato Soup with Cheviot Cheese Pesto and others.

Lastly, the company produces a gourmet sauce line under the brand, which you can view here.
The soups and sauces all are gluten-free and are made using locally-produced (in the UK), premium ingredients.

Most of the upscale ready-meals also are gluten-free. They too feature locally-produced fresh meats and produce and other ingredients; items like locally-foraged wild mushrooms and local dairy products are used in them as well.

You can read the interesting profile by Rose Gamble in the London Times here.

You can view the Look What We Found Web site here.

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