Posted 22nd Sep 2015
This year, world-famous Cornish clotted cream producer Rodda's celebrates 125 rewarding years as a family business and, in honour of British Food Fortnight (20th September to 5th October 2015), we learn the secret to their success
It is believed that in the year 500, Phoenician traders came to Cornwall in search of tin, bringing with them their sumptuous recipe for clotted cream, marking the start of its history as a traditional Cornish delicacy.
Since 1890, five generations of the Rodda family have overseen Rodda’s production from a farmhouse kitchen in Cornwall to a clotted cream producer known the world over. Following 125 years of success, Rodda’s clotted cream is now enjoyed internationally in luxurious hotels and the finest restaurants.
However, it all started when Eliza Jane and Thomas Rodda first produced Cornish clotted cream in their family farmhouse kitchen in Scorrier, near Redruth in Cornwall. Frances Rodda, their daughter, later designed a specialist technique for preserving clotted cream in glass jars in 1920, meaning for the first time Rodda’s clotted cream could be transported to London, opening doors to expansion into markets outside of Cornwall. Soon prestigious department stores such as Fortnum and Mason and Harrods were placing big orders for the growing Cornish delicacy.
Having gained the Royal seal of approval from Charles and Diana, Duke and Duchess of Cornwall, after the couple enjoyed Rodda’s clotted cream as part of their Royal wedding breakfast in 1981, the delicious cream was also put on the menu for the last ever meal on the Concorde flight from London in 2003, cementing its place in the nation's refrigerators.
With productivity at the helm, and going above and beyond the efforts of any of their competitors, standards improved for Rodda’s and in 1969 they introduced higher hygiene standards to ensure their clotted cream stayed fresher for longer. In 1998, Rodda’s was awarded the Protected Designation of Origin (PDO), a guarantee of quality and authority by the European Commission that protects traditional, regional foods from imitation.
The only break in production of Rodda’s clotted cream was during the Second World War due to rationing and war effort. When rationing ended in 1953, Rodda’s resumed production and with that became the first company to use insulated packaging to send their produce by post. This enabled customers to enjoy their favourite Cornish cream fresh in their own homes by 1971.
Today, Rodda's is run by great great grandson Nicholas Rodda. After leaving college, where he studied business, Nicholas spent 20 years working in each specialist department of Rodda’s to gain an overall and rich understanding of how it functions. Following in the family footsteps, Nicholas' son, William, a sixth generation Rodda, joined the business in 2014, keeping the Rodda's Cornish clotted cream business a true family affair.
Cornwall has remained an important part of Rodda’s because of its heritage and humble beginnings. Rodda’s continues to support farmers within a 30 mile radius of their creamery in Cornwall, ensuring their farmers have high welfare standards and that they allow cows to graze freely for up to 10 months. All the farms supported by Rodda’s are certified by the Red Tractor Farm Assurance Dairy, so each tub of their tasty clotted cream is homegrown, staying true to its Cornish roots.
The cream giant and household name continues to maintain the same high standards first set out by Eliza and Thomas Rodda, and the clotted cream is still crafted in the same traditional way; baking the rich Cornish cream until it is thick and creamy – the perfect accompaniment to a scone.
To find out more about Rodda's visit www.roddas.co.uk.
By Lily Waddell