Creating a buzz about city’s food producers

food hero - Jez Daughtry
food hero - Jez Daughtry

A NEW brand of local produce, which had its roots in the first Sheffield Food Festival, is to be officially launched at this year’s event.

The Sheffield Food Group includes familiar home-grown names such as PJ Taste, Mosborough Meats, Tea Box, Fancie and Our Cow Molly.

The producers got together at last year’s inaugural event and now meet regularly, sharing expertise and promoting Sheffield as a quality brand.

“I hadn’t got much experience in the food trade, but the whole thing inspired me,” says Jez Daughtry, who founded the Sheffield Honey Company a year ago.

“I met a few of the other food producers at the festival and I’ve learned a lot from them. The idea of the group is to support people with new enterprises as they go through the learning curve.”

Jez had built a successful career in IT, but gave up the high-tech life to pursue his love of bees.

“I always had a personal interest in beekeeping going back to when I was a child, and when I was made redundant in 2009 I found myself reviewing my life.

“I considered the idea of making my hobby a commercial operation and the Sheffield Honey Company was born.”

The company is the UK’s only full-time urban-based commercial honey-producing operation and over the last few months it has gone from strength to strength.

Jez now runs a successful artisan business, producing local soft set, blossom and heather honeys and a range of beeswax products including candles, potions and lotions.

The company’s distinctive hexagonal logo can be found in shops, delis and farmers’ markets across the area.

And so successful is it proving that Jez’s wife Alison has also joined him, creating a new market for wedding favours and corporate gifts – miniature jars of honey with bespoke labels suitable specially made for each occasion.

They are also about to launch a new range of beeswax candles.

Jez has always maintained that his aim was to set the standard in his field and he is passionate about passing on the skills he has learned.

To this end, he is involved with a community project which is bringing new domestic bee hives to the city’s allotments and rooftops.

He also runs a range of beekeeping courses and does his bit for education by taking bees into schools.

During next month’s Food Festival (July 4-10) he hopes to take some of his bees into the city centre as one of the attractions on offer at the main event hub.

“I think the Food Festival is fantastic. I’m a huge supporter,” he says.

“The Sheffield Food Group is working on creating a showcase at the top of Fargate where we can show off the best of Sheffield food and spread the word about what we do.”