Callestick Farm Ice Cream celebrates its thirtieth birthday
PUBLISHED: 11:47 02 July 2019 | UPDATED: 11:47 02 July 2019
Callestick celebrates its 30th birthday this year by taking their glorious Cornish ice cream to the world
These are exciting times for Callestick Farm Ice Cream. In their thirtieth anniversary year, the business is being taken to a new level with fresh ideas, prestigious contracts and international sales.
For the family who hit upon the idea of diversifying into ice cream production when milk quotas were first introduced in the mid-1980s, continuing and growing success is a source of understandable pride and celebration.
"It's wonderful to have two of our four sons building a future for themselves here," says Angela Parker, who grew up in Leicester and met her husband Sebastian at Seale-Hayne Agricultural College. "They live on the farm and their children are now growing up learning to help out, just as they did. Farming and manufacturing often mean long hours at work, especially during calving or school holidays, but we all muck in and support each other. My in-laws did the same thing for us and it's great that we're able to carry that on."
When Sebastian's parents, Simon and Judith Parker, first moved to Callestick Farm in 1953, they had 60 acres on which to rear cows, sheep, pigs and chickens, whilst also growing cereals. Milk quotas, however, brought in by the European Union to guarantee prices was the perfect excuse to diversify.
"Seb and I had three of our four children by then and were facing a possible 10 per cent drop in income, which simply wasn't sustainable," reveals Angela. "Ice cream production was exempt from the quota so we set about finding out as much as we could about the process."
By 1989, the outbuilding that is now the tea room had become the farm's first ice-creamery. "There was a bullpen one side and calves on the other, but it served its purpose well," laughs Sebastian. "We started making around 12 different flavours and now have 30, with another eight in our sorbet range."
The farm's size and herd have also increased dramatically.
"We've got 800 acres and 385 milking cows," he continues. "It's a grass-based system that means the herd can graze for longer. "We sell about one million litres of milk each year and currently use approximately 300,000 litres for our ice cream."
Such is the quality of the multi-award-winning Callestick product that it quickly became a firm favourite with retail outlets and wholesalers across Cornwall and beyond. Celebrity chefs John Torode and Jamie Oliver have both visited the farm and supermarkets including Tesco, Asda and Morrisons are all selling the brand. Recognising that there was still plenty of scope for much bigger developments, the Parkers recruited sales director David Jeffs in 2018 - the first non-family member to join the board. "There is so much potential here and I'm delighted to be part of the team," says David. "Callestick has earned an excellent reputation over the last three decades and my job is to build on all that has been achieved and significantly increase growth."
A major step in that direction was taken earlier this year. "We agreed a half million-pound contract with a Chinese distributor based in Shanghai," explains David. "The managing director happened to be staying in Newquay for the weekend and tried some of our ice-cream as dessert. He was so taken with it that he immediately got in touch by email to ask if we could meet. The first shipment left at the end of March. To say we were busy organising everything in the few weeks in between is an understatement, but we did it and there's so much buzz around the product that, within half an hour of the Chinese web page going live, there were 25,000 hits."
With the trend towards non-dairy options, the company is also moving with the times by offering dairy-free alternatives.
"We want to be able to cater for as many people as possible," says marketing manager Amy Breach. "We're always evolving our range and recipes to suit changing markets and that will become even more apparent in the months and years to come."
Situated in beautiful countryside between Truro and Newquay, Callestick Farm is open to the public during the summer months. The newly refurbished tea room is the perfect place to enjoy mouth-watering goodies, whilst a viewing platform allows visitors to watch the factory at work. There is also a children's playground and nearby animals to visit.
At the heart of everything, of course, is the ice cream and, with so many different flavours to choose from, deciding what to taste next can be difficult. Maybe I'll start with the bestsellers - strawberry, chocolate, honeycomb and rum and raisin - then move on to butterscotch pecan, toasted coconut, passionfruit ripple and perhaps sticky caramel crunch…