Crispy business for family firm

From left, John Fiddler, Robert Fiddler (Senior) and Robert Fiddler (Junior), of Lancashire Crisps in Rufford, near Chorley.
From left, John Fiddler, Robert Fiddler (Senior) and Robert Fiddler (Junior), of Lancashire Crisps in Rufford, near Chorley.
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It takes just 12 minutes to turn a freshly harvested spud into a tasty crisp on the Fiddlers’s farm.

The family has been producing their Lancashire Crisps for the last 18 months after noticing a gap in the market for a quality homegrown snack.

The Fiddlers very much keep it in the family, with farmer John Fiddler working alongside his dad Robert and brother Robert Jr to head up the small firm, based in Rufford, near Ormskirk.

From harvesting the potatoes in the fields to hand-frying them in the kitchen in sunflower oil and bagging them up in distinctive packaging, every task involves a family member rolling up their sleeves and getting involved.

With the work all being done on the farm, the Fiddlers know exactly where the ingredients are coming from and what goes into each bag.

The need to diversify their agricultural business was behind the decision to make crisps, as John Fiddler explains.

“My dad spoke about making crisps when I was a little boy,” recalls John.

“The way farming was going, we were struggling to make money and we were looking for a job for our children to do when they leave school.

“We have been making crisps for about 18 months now and it’s nice to have a family-run company.

“Hopefully when the children leave school in the next four to eight years, they will have a good job (waiting) for them.”

The Fiddlers have been farming at Brick Kiln Farm for three generations.

John says the soil around the Ormskirk area is ideal for growing a good spud and they now cultivate theirs with crisp production in mind.

They included Lancashire in the name branding to help celebrate the county’s food heritage and traditions.

Lancashire Crisps now produces about 20,000 packs of crisps a week, selling to suppliers not just across the North West but as far afield as Scotland and London.

John says: “It’s important to us to produce a good quality crisp. We’re not growing potatoes to sell in bulk; we want to concentrate on making good crisp potatoes.

“From a raw potato to a crisp in a bag takes about 10 to 12 minutes.”

The firm emphasises its Lancashire roots with its flavours, including Lancashire Cheese and lightly-spiced Lancashire Sauce, and they are looking at making some new additions to the range, with one of the best parts of the job being the taste test.

John smiles: “We’re coming up with a new flavour in March, sea salt and black pepper, and I can’t stop eating them.”