Freddie Hammond is a young man on a mission to make a name in the agri-food business.
Earlier in the year, Freddie teamed up with Purity Brewery to take their bi-product for use as feed for his goslings to create a brand new agri-food business, Brewers Goose. Farmers Guardian are following his journey and here, half way through his venture, he explains the ups and downs so far of creating a brand from scratch.
How are the geese doing? Happy, healthy and always hungry. Seeing them run off into the field and knowing that all the birds are full of beans and ready to spend another day roaming across the pasture is great.
Are you where you planned to be at this point in the year? I think so. I had no real expectations of where we would be at this stage with it being my first year. The more I evaluate and talk to smaller businesses the more I allow myself to be increasingly happy with where we find ourselves. The farming side hasn’t presented any real issues yet - the birds are putting on weight and Christmas orders are dropping into my inbox every day.
Has there been any unexpected obstacles? Stopping the Purity Brewers’ Grains from going mouldy is an obstacle we continually must overcome although not unexpected. The grains are fresh, meaning they’re wet and hovering around 70-80 degrees celsius. This combination of wet and warmth is the ideal environment for mould to flourish over the week. We’ve learnt to cool the grains as much as possible, whilst trying not to lose the moisture and subsequent palatability, but even with these measures it’s a bit of a losing battle. If we get a few humid days, the grains will only last about four days. If it’s cooler they’ll last up to six or seven. As we expand I think more regular collections will be the answer - fresh is always best.
What has been the biggest achievement so far? I try to keep level headed about recognising achievements. I think it’s great that we’re up and running and people are clearly interested in what our product, message and ethics are however I’m very much of the opinion that this is just the first few steps of the marathon. We’ve already sold a fifth of our stock, and we’re not even at the end of September yet. It’s still our first year though and these are all baby steps. Maybe further down the line I will learn to value these small advancements a bit more.
Biggest learning curve to date? Managing time, trying to keep ahead of the game and not letting the Brewer’s Goose snowball lose momentum. The farming side takes around twenty hours per week and the ‘office’ side another five. I refer to these hours as the ‘bread and butter’ - if this was all I did then the business wouldn’t move forward and progress. I try to get them done as quickly as possible, so I can spend the rest of my time doing things to get Brewer’s Goose off the ground. Food Festivals, online marketing, the Brewer’s Goose Scholarship; these are all exciting aspects which are already proving to be driving the business forward. Juggling this whilst trying to maintain a weekly wage to earn my keep plus a part-time job is a challenge but I love it. You don’t get anywhere without an ounce of hardship and hard-work.
What has been the reaction to your product so far? Intrigue, excitement, skepticism, surprise. Overall, it’s been hugely positive, and people are excited about the quality of farming and originality of the product. This alongside our ethos of sustainability and the Scholarship initiative are resulting in happy customers and Christmas orders.
How have you marketed the business? With a combination of traditional and new initiatives. My living room is still crowded with piles of unused leaflets and flyers, and my mum’s garage is the new home for all our food market stall props. Certain traditional methods of marketing I think are worthwhile. We make huge efforts to create a unique presence at many of the food festivals and farmers markets and when possible, always try and serve freshly roasted goose at these events to combat the inevitable: ‘I’ve never tasted Goose meat!’ I think the real value however is new and innovative marketing initiatives. We try to work with our partners Harper Adams, Purity Brewing and Farmers Guardian to create different and exciting ways of reaching audiences and telling our unique story.
What is the plan for the festive run-up? We want everyone who buys a Brewer’s Goose bird to be a part of the Brewer’s Goose run-up to Christmas. This is not just a journey for ourselves, we want our customers to be part of it every step of the way too. We’ll be holding Collection Events near the big day for people to come and spend time together whilst picking up their Christmas dinner and really get a feel of what Brewer’s Goose is about. We plan to serve food, serve drinks from our partnered brewers, Purity, and really make the collection of the Christmas Dinner a festive event which lasts in the memory. Our customers are buying a special product and should therefore be made to feel special in return.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given? ‘Nobody cares, work harder’. It’s rather blunt and maybe a bit harsh, but it’s a quote that really resonates with me. I’m not sure of its origin, but after stumbling across it on social media it tends to be a line which stays in the back of my head. I find it pushes me to make those pipe dreams a reality. I’m the kind of character that if I was to score a hundred in cricket, I would be disappointed it wasn’t a hundred and fifty. I like to put pressure on myself – it isn’t a stress free approach but I like to think it works for me. I suppose we’ll find out...