Ben Laxon, Managing Director of Otter Vale Products, tells Taste Buds about his flourishing family business
Where are you based?
Two years ago, Otter Vale relocated to Granary Court in Cullompton, after three generations of the Laxon family producing food in Budleigh Salterton.
What is Otter Vale all about?
We are a third-generation, family-run business with roots in making preserves and condiments. Our story started with my grandfather, Seymour Laxon. He set up a business in 1972 and sold it to Graham Worrall in 1979, who then created the popular Devon Chutney. When retired in 1995, my mum Christine (a lecturer in food science) and dad Jon (a businessman) decided to give it a try for a year. Almost 20 years later, they handed me the reins.
We are a team of five, including my wife Andrea, who looks after the training and technical side, using her scientific credentials as a vet, alongside food-specific qualifications.
We create chutneys, savoury jellies, sauces, marmalade, mincemeat and mustards, using local produce and suppliers where possible. All our current products are gluten-free. Otter Vale has won numerous awards from Great Taste, Taste of the West and Food Drink Devon, including being named Food Drink Devon’s Best Brand and runner-up in Best Producer 2018–2019 category. Awards are very nice, but our best reward is when customers enjoy what we make.
Where can we find your products?
As well as having an online store, we supply independent farm shops, garden centres, cafés, delicatessens and community shops throughout Devon and beyond, along with hotels, restaurants and pubs. Our chutneys are found in Waitrose regionally.
What are your core values?
People. Provenance. Passion. Products. Integrity. High standards. Think local, think sustainably. And we love what we do!
What makes Devon so special in terms of food and drink?
Ultimately, quality speaks for itself. In Devon, we can grow it, raise it, forage and fish for it, cook it, eat it and drink it. At Otter Vale, our products are created to exacting standards to complement this quality.
What are your future plans?
We are celebrating 40 years of our original Devon Chutney this year – a Great Taste Silver award winner in 2006. To thank our suppliers and customers for their support, we will donate to Devon Air Ambulance Trust and Westcountry Rivers Trust. Each jar and catering tub of Devon Chutney sold in 2019 will count. We have more fun and games planned, so keep in touch!
Taste Buds is published by We Make Magazines, a family-owned Devon company. Taste Buds is produced using Devon-based writers, chefs, photographers and sales team. It is printed on environmentally friendly paper.
… just like the food we write about, Taste Buds is lovingly made using the finest local ingredients!
Taste Buds is your magazine. If you know of a business that you would like to share with other readers we would love to hear from you.
Jeff Cooper: 01626 871161
Jennie Cooper: 01626 871161
Julie Hutchins: 07843 621463
The MayJun issue of Taste Buds is out now