First company awarded REG grant

A Devon based food company called LittlePod is enjoying the sweet taste of success after securing a grant from the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership’s Rural Enterprise Grant Programme.

The money from the grant will allow LittlePod to expand other product lines as well as enlarge their offices and manufacturing space. This in turn will allow them to achieve SALSA (Safe and Approved Local Suppliers) accreditation which would be necessary in order to negotiate with larger clients.  Devon County Council’s economy team was able to offer guidance and support to LittlePod during the application process.

LittlePod which was founded by Janet Sawyer from Farringdon, East Devon and was officially launched in 2010. She became interested in natural vanilla paste and extracts through a friend from the United States, an expert in the vanilla industry.

Janet was interested in new ways of using vanilla in the kitchen and thought that vanilla paste packaged in easy to squeeze tubes would be a welcome addition for busy kitchens.

Since then, LittlePod have brought to market the paste and extract in handy squeezable tubes and bottles with drippers.

LittlePod has also launched coffee and chocolate extracts and even collaborated with Hunters Brewery to brew their very own special vanilla beer.

Their products can now be found across the UK, as well as in Austria, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Japan, Portugal, Qatar and Scotland.

They also aim to sustain and increase jobs for the local rural community, develop new products and new collaborations with local and UK business and want to be able to service an increased export market of 60% (currently 30%).

Managing Director, Janet Sawyer said: “One of the philosophies of LittlePod has been to offer internships to young, promising graduates who have made a great contribution to the company and use the opportunity as career platform.”

“Our relationships with suppliers are also of paramount importance, we currently use a supplier and developer of extracts and pastes with whom we have a very good, exclusive relationship and who can produce the highest quality products consistently and on a large scale. The communities which rely on vanilla cultivation for their livelihoods are vital to us and we hope we are playing our part in conserving the fragile ecosystems in which vanilla is grown”

Chris Garcia, Chief Executive of the HotSW LEP said: “We are really pleased that LittlePod will benefit from a Rural Enterprise Grant, which is designed to develop, expand and stimulate economic growth, innovation and employment opportunities, helping our rural communities remain active and vibrant places in which to live and work.”

Councillor Andrew Leadbetter, Cabinet Member, for Economy and Growth says; “Small and medium sized businesses are a vital part of the Devon economy and I am very pleased we were able to offer some support to LittlePod. This company is a very good example of the type of business which make Devon work and prosper and I wish them all the very best for their future.”

Tom Beeston, food critic for Eat England said; “LittlePod vanilla paste in a tube is a much needed evolution for the kitchen.”

Rural Enterprise Grants are offered to support rural micro-enterprises to develop, expand and stimulate economic growth, innovation and employment opportunities and thereby ensuring that rural communities remain active and vibrant places in which to live and work.

This project is supported by the Rural Development Programme for England, for which Defra is the Managing Authority, part financed by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development: Europe investing in rural areas. It has been grant funded through the REG Programme delivered by Devon County Council on behalf of the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership.