Sarah Ford meets Somerset based Ice Cream business, Mendip Moments

PUBLISHED: 20:03 17 January 2010 | UPDATED: 15:18 20 February 2013

Photo: © Gareth Hannam

Photo: © Gareth Hannam

On a sunny day in August dairy farmer Rob Lunnon emerges from the freezer room dressed like an alpine skier and cradling pots of ice cream and sorbet. The flavours in his gloved hands each have temptingly indulgent names like chocoholic chunk, ste...

Sarah Ford meets Somerset based Ice Cream business, Mendip Moments

On the day of my visit Rob, his wife Jayne and their team have recently returned from a successful stint selling their produce at the Royal Bath and West Show and are gearing up for their first trip to the Glastonbury Festival. This summer they have also just started taking a pitch at the Wednesday market in Wells, and their list of forthcoming festivals includes the Taste of Somerset on 27 August in Hutton near Weston-super-Mare.

Taking the ice cream out direct to the customers in this way has proved to be the best form of market research. Trials of their new brown-bread flavour ice cream at the Royal Bath and West, for example, produced an enthusiastic response amongst show-goers.

"We want to add value to our milk and make the best-quality ice cream we possibly can"

"We were asking people to taste our trial samples and tell us how they thought they could be improved," says Jayne. "People were talking with great fondness about how their mother used to make it and some e-mailed us later with their suggestions. We had a real brown-bread ice cream appreciation society going!"

The farmhouse windows at Haydon Drove reveal a panoramic view across the Somerset Levels and on the kitchen table is Mendip Moments' most recent award: a trophy for best ice cream from the Royal Bath and West Show. Last year their chocoholic chunk scooped Gold in the Taste of the West awards in the chilled and frozen foods category, together with two silvers for Somerset strawberries and clotted cream and their mango and lime sorbet. They also won a bronze for their bestselling clotted cream and honeycomb.

"We were thrilled to have won a Gold in Taste of the West as it covers entries from Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, and Somerset and the standards are very high," says Jayne.

Mendip Moments has enjoyed much success since its launch in 2006 as a result of diversification on the dairy farm.

"Rob is a third-generation farmer and the family have lived in the area for a long time. In fact, his great-grandfather was a paper-maker and helped set up the paper mill at Wookey Hole. Three-and-a-half years ago the dairy industry was on its knees, milk prices were on the floor and lots of farmers were having real difficulties. We were thinking about how to take things forward and looked at diversification. I was working for Nutricia and studying for an MBA and was looking around for ideas for a new business. It was Rob's idea to do ice cream - he is an ice cream fanatic!" explains Jayne.

"The point was not to be an ice cream billionaire but to have a sustainable income and keep the cows in the field," says her husband. "We want to add value to our milk and make the best-quality ice cream we possibly can."

With funding from the Milk Development Council the couple were able to research the market and knew they wanted to produce a premium-end ice cream.

"Consumers told us that they wanted an indulgent ice cream underpinned with provenance, so that's what we've set out to produce," says Jayne. "We use milk and cream from our cows and, where we can, we try to source locally. The clotted cream comes from the Mendips, the strawberries from Bridgwater and the brown bread from Chewton Mendip. However, vanilla is not grown in Somerset and comes from Madagascar! Our aim is to source the best ingredients."

There are now 12 ice creams and four sorbets in the range (with more in development), plus the seasonal flavours. Their mascarpone, fig and honey variety is their unique signature flavour. The products do not contain any artificial flavours or colours and are sold through farm shops and delicatessens in the South-west.

"We are appealing to foodies - people who enjoy the taste of good, quality food and are interested in what they are eating and where it comes from. There is a certain kudos attached to premium ice cream: we've heard anecdotal evidence that people will take Mendip Moments to dinner parties and barbeques as desserts or instead of wine. So there is a degree of appreciation of the brand and quality of our ice cream and that is really encouraging."

Mendip Moments employs three part-time members of staff and, thanks to funding from Defra, Jayne and Rob were able to build the ice-cream kitchen in the farmhouse where their ice-cream-making machinery is based. But during the winter, efforts at Haydon Farm are concentrated on another seasonal business.

"We are essentially a dairy farm but we also grow Christmas trees and produce 1,200 turkeys, so the place is a hive of activity. We have three children who have very active social lives and I rely heavily on our parents, who help us a lot, so it's very much a family effort." BY SARAH FORD

For more details about Mendip Moments visit or call 01749 679400.

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