Big interview: Bad weather won't affect production
THE New Year has brought new customers and potential markets for Jeremy Benson and his family-run juice drinks and ice lollies enterprise.
Jeremy is managing director of Bensons Totally Fruity, based at Sandy Hill Farm near Northleach.
The company has started 2013 with a new deal with the National Trust, which will see joint labels with the logos of both added to its fruit drinks, which will then be sold on the Trust's 300 plus sites.
The company is also launching its flavoured water in sports cap bottles for youngsters in time for Easter.
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The flavoured spring water, which forms the company's Joosed! range, launched last May, will be released in 250ml bottles in two flavours; apple and blackcurrant and apple and orange. One of the product's key selling points is that it will contain less than three per cent sugar.
While Jeremy believes key growth will come in this market, the company's fruit juice drinks remain at its heart.
Last week The Business reported Bensons Totally Fruity had struck a deal with Hook Norton Brewery to sell its bespoke range of pure pressed English apple-based fruit juices to 40 pubs within the brewer's tied estate and a further 400 free trade accounts within a 50 mile radius of Hook Norton in Oxfordshire.
Jeremy said: "We are trying to get new customers but it is hard so we think let's look at our existing customers and see how we can increase sales to them."
The fruit juices, which come in a range of flavours, contain 100 per cent juice while the flavoured waters contain 70 per cent spring water and 30 per cent fruit juice.
The company's Chilly Billy ice lolly range is also performing well.
Nando's stock a recently launched smaller-sized version and the company is in the process of pitching two new flavours, strawberry and mango, to wholesalers, with a recommended sale price of 99p. They are also on the menu in Cafe Rouge and Bella Italia.
The company remains in talks with major airlines, including British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, to stock them on flights.
One of the company's key partnerships is with SOHO Coffee Co.
Jeremy has met with co-owner Penny Manuel to discuss ideas and trial products within the chain, which includes stores in the county and in airports.
Bensons Totally Fruity production takes place on the farm, where the fruit is pressed and bottled in barns.
But tubes for the ice lollies are filled in Sunderland.
Jeremy said the company's aim was to grow and two people, one local and one from outside the business could join soon to meet that objective.
Jeremy said: "We want to grow it fairly quickly. We don't have an end goal. We are in the process of bringing in other shareholders to drive the business."
Bensons Totally Fruity employs 14 staff, including Jeremy.
Seven work on production and six in the office, which is also located on the farm. Jeremy has always been hands-on on the production side, but since taking on a staff member from London to oversee it, he has more time to spare to spend on the sales side and to meet potential and existing customers.
His typical day involves waking up at 5.30am for a 6am or 6.30am start. Each day varies but he tries to end his day around 7pm.
Jeremy spent more than 20 years farming and set up his business 12 years ago after tasting his father's hand-pressed apple juice and deciding to make his own.
He said both jobs meant working very long hours but both had their positives.
Last year's poor harvest means Jeremy and his team now face a "hard slog" until March to press all their apples before supply runs out.
He said the recent bad spell was not a great start to the year but that it should soon be over and was nothing too out of the ordinary and should not impact on the business.
Outside of work Jeremy is keen on hockey and plays on Mondays and Saturdays.
He spends his weekends with his four children who share his interest in rugby, cricket and football.