How much do we really know about the foods we eat? This was something that troubled Carol-Anne Doyle, owner and co-founder of Cochrane Cottage, an artisan producer of flavoured balsamic dressings and fat free vinegars. This train of thought prompted her and her husband to establish Cochrane Cottage in November 2009. Since then, their commitment to using locally sourced produce in their range of delicious condiments has resulted in a business that has gone from strength to strength. I had a chat with Carol-Anne about Cochrane Cottage and how they have developed over the years.
How did you become involved in the Crail Food Festival?
My husband Kevin met one of the organisers of the festival at another food event. They got chatting about the festival and its aims, and we were really excited to hear that someone was being proactive in their approach to promoting local produce. We knew that this was something that we wanted to become involved in, so we got in touch with the organisers and asked if we could be part of the festival.
Cochrane Cottage has gone from strength to strength since it launched in 2009. What do you attribute to the success of your business?
Our customers are definitely attracted to the fact that they recognise all of the ingredients on our labels. People want to know what they are eating and feeding their families, and with our products, they have the guarantee that they are produced locally using quality ingredients. Furthermore, we grasp every opportunity that comes our way. We try not to say no to even the smallest event, as everything should be considered a development opportunity. At the moment, our growth has far outweighed our initial expectations. We always had faith in the quality of our products, but to have the business grow to a point where we now have our own outlet shop in the Silverburn shopping centre in Glasgow is truly amazing.
What promotional tools did you use to raise awareness of the Cochrane Cottage venture?
We made good use of modern technology, ensuring that we had a media profile to offset our aims. We also participated in a number of tasting sessions, took our products to sell at events, and as I said before, we rarely missed a networking opportunity.
In your opinion, what more can be done to help support local businesses?
Good feedback is invaluable. Providing a quality product itself is not enough. You need to get people talking about it and recommending it to extend your customer base. This approach encourages people to buy local, which is what we are really striving for.
What makes Fife produce so special?
Nothing is better than local produce. It’s fresh, doesn’t taste mass produced and you know where it comes from. This alone gives local produce the edge over anything you could buy in the supermarket.