Posted 7th Nov 2014
We spoke with Fiona Pink to uncover the incredible story behind the famous PINK'S Foods, that all started with one man's determination to bring good ingredients to tables across Britain over 100 years ago
'E & T Pink's Jam and Pickle Factory was founded by my great great grandfather, Sir Thomas Pink (pictured left), in the late 1880s in Bermondsey, London,' Fiona explains. 'It was a time before environmental health and food regulations, when flour was contaminated with chalk and the list of chemicals and poisonous additives that could be found in everyday food items made grim reading.
'My great great grandfather wanted to give people good food made with pure ingredients. He started off importing fine food from Italy, selling pickles, jams, candied peel and spices,' Fiona adds.
The company grew quickly and soon built up to become a household name, concentrating on preserves. PINK’S was said to be the largest manufacturer in the world. In 1897 the firm produced 3,400 tonnes of marmalade, requiring an incredible 1,950 tons of oranges and 1,800 tonnes of sugar. During World War One PINK’S had a contract to supply their Plum Jam to the troops and Thomas Pink was knighted.
'The company was sold long before I was born but I grew up with the history of the business, spending my childhood days playing in my father's dock in Tooley Street where PINK’S once docked the huge amount of ingredients required to make their products. It was growing up with this history that gave me the idea to form PINK’S again,' Fiona explains.
PINK'S, now based on the Isle of Wight, was revived and relaunched in 2011, and started initially with a small selection of chilli jellies and a Smoked Tomato Tapenade, but in September 2013 Fiona launched two chutneys and a range of eight pestos to go with them – all gluten-free and all including a parmesan-style hard cheese made with a vegetarian rennet.
'My wish was to create a company with the same ethos as my grandfather: to offer customers good quality products, made with good ingredients, so that our customers would know that if a product was branded PINK’S, it was of the highest quality,' says Fiona. 'I also felt that many people are nervous about cooking and entertaining, and I wanted to offer products that could be eaten straight from the jar and could be made into really simple dishes in a matter of minutes, so all of our products are sold with serving suggestions and recipe cards.'
PINK'S delicious range of products, including the Great Taste Award-winning Green Chilli Jelly with lime and lemongrass, perfect with blue cheese, their Empire Chutney infused with star anise, tomato and coriander, and Beetroot and Horseradish Pesto made with cashew nuts and chickpeas, to name just a few, are stocked with the likes of River Cottage, RHS Wisley, Burford Garden Company and Cotswold Fayre, as well as on their online shop, www.pinksfoods.co.uk.
By Natalie Crofts