By Mark Williamson

Herald Business Correspondent

Name: Geoff Bruce.

Age: 47.

What is your business called?


Where is it based?

On our fourth generation working family farm in Perthshire. It runs alongside Bruce Farms other farming practices.

What does it produce?

Healthy, flavoured, freeze dried snacks made from our farm produce.

We produce Podberry in four flavours: sweet chilli, sea salt and balsamic vinegar, ham hock, and parmesan and truffle.

In the future, we hope to expand the range within Podberry using different flavours but also different products all produced on our farm.

To whom does it sell?

Podberry is currently stocked in two flavour variations, the Sweet Chilli and the Sea Salt and Balsamic Vinegar, in Morrisons across Scotland.

Our full range is also available in a number of independent stores and online although we would like to secure listings or stockist which means more people could see and purchase our products, both in Scotland and across the UK, as part of their weekly shop.

What is its turnover?

In line with expectations.

How many employees?

Podberry has four staff members but runs alongside the Bruce Farms much larger operation on our farm.

When was it formed?

March 2019.

Why did you take the plunge?

After many years of working on the farm and in food production as a family operation we wanted to explore ways we could diversify. We looked at what we already produced, and had developed a strong and trusted reputation around, and wanted to try and use the strengths we already had to build a new product or brand.

After some initial research and the realisation that the UK the options for freeze dried healthy snacks appeared to be non-existent, the idea for a products of this sort was born. We decided to invest in the freeze drying technology to allow us to take the produce we grow on our farm, extend its shelf life and create an ambient product without altering the taste and nutritional benefits of our fruit and vegetables.

On our initial test we discovered peas worked very well being freeze dried so they were a natural first step for the Podberry brand.

What were you doing before you took the plunge?

Podberry was created from our family farm which has been operating since 1898.

Bruce Farms supplies Birds Eye, Ribena, Albert Bartlett, Scotty Brand, among other British packers, retailers and food service companies with fruit and vegetables and continues to run alongside the Podberry business.

How did you raise the start-up funding?

We received a Food Processing, Marketing & Co-operation (FPMC) grant worth £87,000 and supplemented this with our own finance.

What was your biggest break?

Being listed in our first retailer, Morrisons, within six months of creating Podberry was a huge step for us. It allowed us to demonstrate we could provide Podberry on a larger scale to retailers across the country but also allowed more people to easily try Podberry and include the purchase of our brand as part of their normal weekly food shop.

What was your worst moment?

When we purchased our machine from New Zealand sterling plummeted between quote and purchase, which resulted in paying a third more.

What do you most enjoy about running the business?

I have found the opportunity to expand what we are doing on the farm incredibly exciting. Podberry is a product we really believe in and so far the reception we have had from the consumer would support this so we are excited to see how we can help it grow.

What do you least enjoy?

For us one of the more difficult challenges has been research around creating a wholly carbon neutral product in fully recyclable products. It is something we believe in, and know consumers demand, but has taken longer than we had hoped to achieve. We are still working hard on it though and hope in the not-too-distant future we can tick these vital boxes too.

What are your ambitions for the firm?

We would like in the future to expand the range of Podberry snacks through popular demand, with stockists across Scotland, the rest of the UK and overseas.

What are your five top priorities?

Consistency. Quality. Stability. Growth... and giving the customer what we believe is a healthy solution to their daily diet.

What single thing would most help?

A full national listing with a retailer for better exposure. Those who have tasted the product so far and the feedback we have had suggests that the product will do the rest. Without these listings, if people can’t easily get their hands on Podberry, growing positive opinion is much more difficult.

What could the Westminster Government do that would most help?

Get Brexit concluded immediately for all the obvious reasons – just like any normal business would do.

What was the most valuable lesson that you learned?

That we’re never too old to learn.

How do you relax?

Hill running – I’m no expert but it is healthy, rewarding and it’s free.