Country Products was a business founded on a unique sense of purpose and values that we still maintain today.
Explore The History Of Country Products
From our humble beginnings the company has grown into a nationally recognised brand, selling exceptional quality products to an ever increasing number of wholesalers and retailers across the country.
Our timeline below plots the history of our development.
Country Products began trading in 1983, Mark having returned to the UK, after travelling around the world for a year, in 1979, (“Well it was a great year & it lasted for nearly 4 years” says Mark) Realisation dawned, that at some stage it was time to settle down & earn a living, having always had a passion for food & a desire to ‘Be his own Boss’, lead to the inevitable involvement within the food industry. Initially with his girlfriend, Sue, they began making homemade preserves and selling these ‘door to door’ & on the steps of York’s Castle Museum, then progressing to Health Food Shops, Deli’s & Village Stores throughout the Yorkshire Dales. It was at this stage that Mark saw the opportunity to sell ‘packaged’ dried fruits, nuts & cereals, as most of the Independent stores sold these ‘loose’ from the box or sack in those days. Shortly afterwards marriage & three children followed. The early years saw hard times & very long hours, their first child, Jo was born whilst they were also running a small delicatessen in Haworth.
After several years of hard graft, the business became established as a supplier of quality fine foods & a reputation for excellent service to back up this commitment. A large presence on the local markets of Yorkshire followed & at their peak Country Products had stalls on 14 local markets. The wholesale side of the business boomed through this greater exposure, as the number of stockists grew so too did both the range of products stocked & the coverage within the UK. The business developed & moved premises on a few occasions as more additional space was required, and at one stage renting the former ticket office & waiting room at Cattal Railway Station, before eventually moving to Centre Park, Tockwith. Towards the end of the 1990’s saw the arrival of the first automatic packing machine, affectionately called ‘Rosie’, almost immediately the business expanded once again, on the back of being able to provide a more professional looking pack & at a vastly quicker speed. With the increased output, came more administration & paperwork, which necessitated the need to introduce the first member of dedicated office staff. Liz Aldridge joined Country Products in 1997 as Office Manager quickly introducing some overdue streamlining & efficiencies, this increased the staff numbers to six.
Sadly, the pressure of work took its toll on family life and Mark & Sue divorced. The business partnership dissolved, with Sue opting for a quieter life living in the Dales. Mark threw himself wholeheartedly into the business, working long hours whilst raising their 3 children. Two further moves into larger warehouses & offices took place before settling into their current location in 2006, now the largest warehouse on the business park. Further investment was made into more packing machinery, eventually numbering 5 automated & 1 semi-automated lines as well as hand packing facilities. Jo joined the business full time & worked in several different roles learning all aspects of the business. Staffing numbers grew & now numbered 16, and by this stage it was not unusual for orders to be going to Sweden, Finland, Ireland, France, Holland as well as to all corners of the UK. One of the most notable differences was how the demand had changed from larger to smaller pack sizes & in particular the call from the ‘healthy snacking’ sector. Other significant changes meant that Country Products became incorporated in 2003, some 20 years after they first began trading. The first venture into e-commerce began in December 2004. After some persuasion Mark was convinced that this was the way to proceed, it now seems so long ago in the days before Amazon purchased the US food giant Whole Foods Market in June 2017 & really entered the online food market turning food retailing on its head, as they have in so many other sectors.
By now firmly the business was firmly established in the UK as a Healthy Snack producer, as well as acting as a contract packer for some of the best know names on the High Street. The business continued to grow & employ more staff but at the same time remained involved within the local community, sponsoring local football teams, supporting local schools & interest groups, donating raffle prizes, and sponsoring an annual prize, at the local agricultural show, for the ‘Best Fruit Cake’. Mark also took part in a bread making demonstration at the Great Yorkshire Show, to help further publicise the company & its products. Country Products started to produce various pack styles for selected clients such as quad bags, bags in a box, plastic & biodegradable pots to mention but a few. In 2014, Liz who had provided invaluable support to Mark made the decision to retire after 16 years of dedicated service to the business. In 2015, the next generation was born & Mark became a proud grandfather, and to enable Jo to return to work Mark & Liz took on some childminding duties After some 35+ years of being heavily involved in all aspects of the business, Mark decided it was time to take the first tentative steps towards a staged handover of responsibilities. To enable this transitional stage to begin, Country Products was fortunate to employee John Taylor, a highly qualified operator with many years of relevant experience within the food industry, as the General Manager. This move led to a transformational period at Country Products with new procedures & processes leading to vastly improved efficiencies. John guided the team towards BRC accreditation, achieving an A grade at the first attempt.
Despite the best attempts of the global pandemic to stifle business growth, Country Products has found new areas of business to develop: –
- Developing new strategic partners
- A refreshed stock portfolio
- A rebrand into recyclable packaging
- A fresh approach to business direction
These vital commercial enhancements have once again resulted in Country Products being ahead of the curve. Mark has appointed John Taylor as the new Managing Director & elected Jo to the Board of Directors, to lead the team through to the next stage of expansion which is now on the horizon.
As Mark now feels that the company is in the very capable hands of John & Jo he has decided to step back further and assume the role of Executive Chairman.
The story continues…
Our Client Testimonials
Country Products has been supplying contract packing services to Suma Wholefoods for nearly two decades. With a friendly and professional approach, I can always rely on a service that meets with our agreed timescales. We are consistently impressed by the responsiveness of Mark and the team – no matter how tight a schedule, we know that they will do all they can to meet our requirements. We have also worked on a wide range of projects with Country Products and their commitment to quality and customer service is second to none. I would like to personally thank you for your outstanding business experience.
Jeff Walker, Suma Wholefoods
I just had to contact you, because I am so delighted, with my first order from you, the fruit is such wonderful quality, and never had anything delivered so fast. I make Christmas cakes for family and friends, no one likes peel, they are going to be really happy this year, as the fruits I bought this time, I haven't been able to buy before. Thank you for being a brilliant company.
Zaytoun has worked for years with Country Products who pack our grains and almonds for us. We have found the service to be to a high standard and the staff to be efficient and friendly. We have moved through several pack changes and improvements and have felt consistently well supported. A big thumbs up for the service we have experienced.