Sublime: What inspired you to create Seed and Bean?
Steve Rudkin: I have worked in the organic industry for 25 years. It started when I came across pumpkin seeds covered in chocolate and began to sell them. But what I really wanted to do was to create a very good British-made organic chocolate. I was one of the original Green and Black protégés in the early days. I left when they sold out to Cadbury – now owned by Kraft Foods – and I focussed on building Seed and Bean.
S: What is your ethos and how does it compare to that of other chocolate brands on the market? What is unique in your business model?
SR: We know exactly where our cocoa comes from. Not just the region, we can visit the plantations, which for a small chocolate company is unique. We are close to the ingredients suppliers. We also make all our chocolate in small batches in England. Both of these things are very rare. Most others don’t know where their chocolate comes from and they don’t produce in the UK. Most large companies produce 25-50 thousand litres a batch and we produce 45 litres per batch. The difference is that we don’t use flavourings or hints of flavourings – we only use ‘real ingredients’.
S: What are the changes you would like to see in the chocolate industry?
SR: I would like to see greater sustainability efforts.
S: In what way does your brand benefit both the cocoa farmers and consumers?
SR: The consumers have a better flavour and taste, the cocoa farmers get a better price and higher yield.
S: According to your website, your chocolate bars have a home-compostable wrapper...
SR: That is correct. The packaging that our chocolate comes in is unique: home-compostable wrappers made in the UK.
S: Tell us about how do you craft these unique new chocolate recipes?
SR: We are inspired by the ingredients that we find. And combinations that are unique, yet not weird or quirky.
S: How did you become official chocolate partner with Glastonbury Festival?
SR: We were invited to put forward details of our ethos and brand values and we were vetted and after this we sent samples past the taste test with flying colours and then the relationship began. We are in our third year now and each year the experience gets better and better and our audience widens greatly.
S: What challenges did you face during the initial set-up and development of your company? What has been the biggest lesson learnt?
SR: Give the customers what they want and not what you think they want. Time was a problem in the earlier days, you can’t be invoicing and delivering at the same time which was a challenge a very small company.
S: What’s in the pipeline for Seed and Bean in the near future?
SR: New recipes and greater enhanced relationship with our suppliers. More partnerships, projects and a continued growth through international export sales. We are exporting to 15 countries at present.
S: What advice would you give to chocolate lovers?
SR: Be more adventurous and try brands you’ve never heard of ... and flavour combinations you didn’t think you’d like ...