BBC goes behind the scenes at Eat Natural for Inside the Factory
© Simon Hanna 2019
British-based cereal and snack bar brand Eat Natural welcomed cameras into its ‘Makery’ production facility for the first time in its 22-year history as part of filming for the BBC television series Inside the Factory.
As the company, which exports to 37 countries around the world, revealed, during filming for the show, some of the company’s key methods were unveiled and demonstrated how it team keeps each product line different – with no two ever being the same and are made in much the same way you’d make them at home.
The Essex-headquartered company added that it has prided itself on its attention to detail, sourcing of ingredients (and the love and care each ingredient gets) – and the fact that much of the critical parts of the bar making is done by hand. Eat Natural is based in Halstead, Essex. The programme airs on Tuesday 5 May at 9pm on BBC2.
During the programme, presenter Gregg Wallace (pictured) goes through the process of making one batch of the company’s popular Cranberry, Macadamia and Dark Chocolate bar. He watches the small, sweet macadamia nuts arriving into the warehouse after their 8,500-mile journey from South Africa and the painstaking process Eat Natural’s employees go through to check each nut is exactly the right size and colour to be used.
Furthermore, he sees the nuts enter the ‘Spa’ – a room solely dedicated to checking each and every nut or piece of dried fruit for size, shape, colour. This is done by both machine and humans, as the machines are around 90% reliable. Then the nuts are roasted to give colour and a beautiful sweet taste.
He then watches the process of mixing the nuts with the other ingredients: coconut, honey mix, beautiful dried cranberries from Chile, sultanas and puffed rice, perfect for texture and binding. Harriet Gregory, who has worked at Eat Natural for nearly 15 years and who creates each recipe, explains the brand’s love of honey. “We have a mixture of two honeys: a dark honey and a light honey which is a little more acidic, slightly spicy maybe…I don’t know if people realise that you get different honey coming from different flowers and different pollen. It’s wherever the bees go.”
Gregg then watches open-mouthed as the Eat Natural team place each portion mix onto baking trays, just as you would have at home. Each one is then ‘pinned’ using a rolling pin to flatten each mixture into the tray before baking. He then moves onto the chocolate robing area, and watches melted 55% dark chocolate poured into a heated reservoir over which the bars pass to ensure a smooth layer of chocolate underneath the bar. The beans are from Ghana and the chocolate is made in Belgium, famed for its incredible chocolate. They’re then cooled, wrapped, and packed. The whole process takes just 3 hours and 45 minutes.
Leanne Taylor, Operations Manager at Eat Natural, which last year produced a total of 94.5 million bars said of the filming, “We’re so much more than just a fruit and nut bar; in my 16 years here I’ve worked across the whole business and it was amazing to have the cameras behind the scenes to show the world what we do every day.”
During his tour of the Makery, Gregg is shown just how much of the bar’s creation is made by hand. Leanne goes on to say, “[doing things by hand] allows us to check the ingredients are right at every stage”.
Lisa Conning, Eat Natural’s Technical Manager, added, “I really enjoyed showing people the way we produce our bars, as unlike other larger scale manufacturers we are still really hands on, which is not the norm in mainstream food production.”
Praveen Vijh, co-founder of Eat Natural, believes that the whole process “was one of the most exciting things to happen in the history of Eat Natural, how proud it made me feel, and how brilliant it was to watch Gregg and his team see how simple our bars are to make. It’s not rocket science! Simple ingredients, a few human beings, an oven – and a lot of love.”