Cornish Clotted Cream – the food of the Gods (former Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone, 1809-1898)
In the UK, according to the 1935 Goodheart, Sigler and Hoffman song “everything stops for tea” but not only that – on the last Friday in June each year it celebrates National Cream Tea Day. The day is organised by The Cream Tea Society, which was founded in 2015 by Rodda’s Cornish Clotted Cream and the jam makers Wilkin and Son, Tiptree. Apart from increasing the sale of cream teas, the Society wants to encourage the British public to donate to charity. In the last 5 years, it has raised over £500,000 for UK charities and each year Rodda’s and Tiptree have donated 50,000 portions of their clotted cream and jam to help raise money.
In October 2021, Rodda’s, a 132-year-old family business, acquired B- corporation status with a score of 93 (minimum 80). The firm was founded in 1890 when Eliza Jane Rodda started making clotted cream in her farmhouse kitchen in Cornwall, using a recipe believed to have been brought to Cornwall by the Phoenicians some 2000 years earlier. Now in its 5th generation, Rodda’s is the largest, and reputedly best loved, producer of clotted cream and claims to have contributed £100 million to the Cornish economy between 2017 and 2022, alone. In total, it supports 40 local farms, each within a 30 mile radius of the Scorrier-based creamery and each is required to pass Rodda’s bespoke farm assurance, covering animal welfare.
As the firm’s managing director, Nicholas Rodda, acknowledges, “None of this would be possible without our wonderful team. Our people are the most important part of our business, it’s the dedication of our staff that is the real magic ingredient, and why it’s so important to invest in them”. Apart from the staff being encouraged to learn new skills and to experience different areas of the business, there is a wildflower “Sensory Garden” intended to both enhance the personal well-being of the staff and encourage pollinators. The firm believes that it is important to ensure the staff are healthy and happy in the workplace and to this end, it offers them free fruit and allows them to take home their creamy Cornish milk up to three times a week.
However, it is not only the staff that the firm cares about, but the environment. To this end, it has developed its own “Rodda’s Environmental Policy” and is constantly looking to ways it can use its natural resources more efficiently. All of its electricity comes from renewable sources, including its own solar panels, and it reuses its water to help clean the site. While they have to use plastic containers for their cream, their pots are recyclable and they are exploring, with their suppliers, opportunities to replace the plastic with alternative materials that will ensure the freshness and safety of the cream. Between 2019 and 2021 they removed 2.5 tonnes of plastic from the business and their Milk Refill Stations are not only encouraging customers to purchase local Cornish farm milk but are helping reduce the use of plastic milk bottles as customers can either purchase a glass bottle or bring their own containers to be refilled.
Additionally, in 2021, the firm’s senior management team donated 100 hours of its time to voluntary work in the community, mainly on gardening and DIY projects, but also on arranging charity events, sponsored bicycle rides and donating clotted cream to care homes at Christmas. Also, the firm has donated 38 traditional milk churns to the community. These have been painted by Cornish artists and will be used to create a Cornish trail and eventually auctioned to raise money for Cornwall Hospice Care.
Apart from such activities, in 1998 the firm successfully spearheaded a campaign so that, like Champagne, Stilton Cheese and Parma Ham, Cornish Clotted Cream gained Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status. This means that the cream has to be made in Cornwall, with Cornish milk and in the traditional way.
According to Mr Rodda, the journey to becoming a B Corp has been a challenging but fun process, and the “Rodda’s family will continually strive to do better for its team, the planet and the people within it, as they further embed into the B-Corp community…”
In terms of the UN’s SDGs Rodda’s addresses SDGs 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth), 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities), 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production) and 15 (Life on Land). However, with a reported 2020 turnover of £38 million and an operating profit of £1.88 million the venture does not only care for its people and the environment but is profitable. Profit, planet and people are in harmony and the firm is “making as much money as possible while conforming to the basic rules of society both those embodied in law and those embodied in ethical custom” (Friedman, 1970).
Friedman, M. (1970), The Social and Ethical Responsibility of Business to Increase its profits. New York Times. September 13, 122-126
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