A can of Baxters Scotch Broth Soup
|Founded||1898Fochabers, Moray, Scotlandin|
|Headquarters||Fochabers, Moray, Scotland|
Number of employees
|Parent||W.A. Baxter & Sons (Holdings) Limited|
Be Different, Be BetterBecause Taste Matters
Baxters Food Group Limited, also known as Baxters of Speyside or Baxters, is a Scottish food processing company, based in Fochabers, Moray, Scotland. Baxters is best known for canned soups, made to unique recipes, such as Royal Game. It also makes a range of jams, pickled vegetables and chutneys. The company holds the Royal Warrant for manufacturers of Scottish specialities from Her Majesty the Queen.
The company was known as W.A. Baxter & Sons Ltd. prior to 21 December 2006.
Baxters was founded in 1868 by 25 year old gardener George Baxter when he borrowed £100 from family members and established a grocery shop in Fochabers, Moray. George’s wife Margaret Baxter supported her husband by making jams and jellies using local fruits.
In 1916 George and Margaret’s son, William Baxter, purchased land from the Duke of Richmond and Gordon and with his wife, Ethel Baxter, built a factory adjacent to the River Spey, to the east of Fochabers. The Baxters shop became known for supplying pickles and preserves and began preparing their own beetroot, and selling it to other grocers. Ethel began producing a range of jams, whilst William promoted the business throughout Scotland.
A canning machine was hired by Ethel in 1923 in order to can local fruit in syrup, such as strawberries, raspberries and plums, with Baxters becoming one of the first companies in Scotland to do so. Ethel started creating a variety of soups using local produce in 1929, including the famous Royal Game using venison from Upper Speyside. The Baxter family were now supplying upmarket department stores in London such as Harrods and Fortnum & Mason.
During the Second World War, the company survived principally by producing jam for the armed forces.
Ena and Gordon Baxter joined the company in 1952. Ena, an artist and cook, helped expand the range of Scottish soups on offer to include traditional Scottish recipes such as Cock-a-leekie, Scotch Broth and Chicken Broth. In 1955 Baxters was granted royal warrants of appointment by HM Queen Elizabeth II, The Queen Mother and HM Gustav VI, King of Sweden for the manufacturer of Scottish food specialties.
In the 1960s Baxters was supplying goods worldwide and in 1962 it was the first company in the United Kingdom to introduce twist-top caps to 12oz jars for preserves. By the 1980s Baxters had become a leading premium soup brand and began promoting more exotic soup flavours. Despite the increasing size of the company, Baxters maintained an image as a "family business", with a series of advertisements showing the Baxter family heavily involved in the preparation of their products.
Gordon Baxter’s daughter Audrey Baxter became Managing Director in 1992 who along with her brother Andrew Baxter developed a range of new products. Gordon Baxter died in 2013 (aged 95), and Ena Baxter in 2015 (aged 90).
In November 2011 the company acquired the Fray Bentos range of pies and other canned meat products from Princes Ltd. Princes had been forced to sell the brand on competition grounds having acquiring it from Premier Foods as part of the purchase of Premier's canned food division. By January 2013 production-line equipment and the manufacturing of Fray Bentos products had been transferred from Long Sutton in Lincolshire to the Baxters facility in Fochabers. The production line is accommodated in a two storey extension to the factory and initial production levels were 67,000 tinned pies per week. Fray Bentos was named after the town of Fray Bentos in Uruguay, from which it originally imported meat into the UK. Fray Bentos was bought by Campbell’s in 1993 and sold onto Premier Foods as part of the sale of the US food group’s UK assets in 2006.
- Fochabers, Moray, Scotland - The company's main manufacturing site and corporate headquarters is where it produces canned soups, jars of beetroot, jams and preserves. Over 500 staff are employed there.
- Earls Colne, Colchester, Essex, England - Manufactures organic and non-organic condiments, mayonnaises, sauces, dressings, mustards and dips under the Simply Delicious brand.
- Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec, Canada - The original Canadian company was called Les Produits Freddy. In 2002 it became SoupExperts. It specialised in private label manufacturing. The plant now makes a range of Baxter's branded soups for the Canadian market.
- Wolsztyn, Poland - A 4,000 square metre purpose built factory constructed in 2007 to allow the onion pickling operation to transfer from Pershore, Worcestershire. Manufactures Garners range of pickled products.
Retail and Restaurant Premises
- Highland Village Visitor Centre, Fochabers, Moray, Scotland - Located adjacent to the Fochabers headquarters and manufacturing site the Highland Village in centred around George Baxter's original shop and includes an exhibition, restaurants, Mrs Baxters Cook Shop selling cooking and kitchen items, Coat and Swagger shop selling clothing and the Baxters Gift Shop. It receives over 200,000 visitors per annum.
- Home Farm, Kelty, Fife, Scotland - Shop and coffee shop opened in 2008.
- Pershore, Worcestershire, England - Acquired as part of the purchase of Garners Foods in 2001. The factory was closed with the loss of 23 jobs in 2006 when production was moved to Wolsztyn, Poland.
- Aberdeen International Airport - Shop opened in 2002 within landside part of the passenger terminal. Sold Baxters produce as well as Scottish themed gifts.
- Eaglesgate Retail Village, Blackford, Perth and Kinross, Scotland - Shop and 250 seat restaurant opened in 2005 and functioned as Baxter's retail headquarters and distribution warehouse. Closed in February 2014 after the landlord sold the retail village forcing the closure of the Baxters premises. A suitable alternative location to operate the distribution hub from could not be found.
- Dundsdale Haugh, Selkirk, Scottish Borders, Scotland - £1million was spent transforming the vacant Selkirk Glass factory into an 8,300 square foot shop and restaurant in May 2008. Closed in February 2014 with the loss of 23 full-time and part-time jobs as a consequence of the Blackford site closing.
- Ocean Terminal, Leith, Scotland - Lifestyle shop and 50 seat restaurant. Closed in early 2014 as a consequence of the Blackford site closing.
Health and Safety
A member of staff at Baxter's Fochabers manufacturing plant had to have his left foot amputated on-site after getting trapped in an vegetable auger during January 2014. The victim was trapped in the machine for an hour as emergency services, including two orthopaedic surgeons from Dr Gray’s Hospital in Elgin attempted to free him. He was later flown by air ambulance to Raigmore Hospital in Inverness. Following a HSE investigation, Elgin Sherriff Court heard in October 2015 that an improvised method of pushing remaining vegetables into an auger was regularly used. Baxters management were not aware that staff regularly used a ladder to climb on to the conveyor then used a squeegee to push vegetables towards the auger. The victim was injured when his left foot slipped from the belt into the collection hopper and was pulled into the auger. Baxters was fined £60,000 for being in breach of in breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 after it was found that risk assessments in place at the time of the incident were not suitable or sufficient.
Following an inspection in May 2015, Baxters was instructed by the UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to improve safety at its Fochabers manufacturing plant. HSE found that exposure to flour dust, which can lead to asthma, was not controlled satisfactorily. Measures to reduce the risk of injury to staff during the loading of meat mincers were also found to be inadequate. Baxters responded that it was working hard to rectify the matters raised.
Baxters was fined £6,000 at Elgin Sherriff Court in May 2015 after admitting breaches to health and safety legislation which led to a member of staff suffering a hand injury during an incident involving a conveyor belt. The incident at the Fochabers plant was investigated by HSE after it was reported by Baxters.
It was reported in October 2014 by local newspapers that staff working in the soup factory at Baxter's Fochabers plant staged a three-hour strike in a dispute with management about new working and pay conditions.
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