The Dempsters deliver
Outland Hurders Creamery diversifiesWednesday, December 29, 2021
Gordon Dempster and Kristina Dempster, owners of Outland Hurders Farmstead Creamery, have expanded from their original focus on the hotel trade in 2020 to the broader Jamaican retail market, a strategy which has helped the small business to thrive and survive.
The couple runs the three-year-old company, which is located in Williamsfield, Manchester, and are its sole employees but are planning to expand and employ qualified persons in the coming year. Together, since April 2018, they have been delighting the palate of the discerning with Jamaican made cheese.
They explain the change in their business model thus: “We began expanding into more retailers such as SuperValu Fresh Foods and Progressive Foods when COVID-19 first began affecting the island, moving from a business model that was heavily geared towards hotels, to one that now includes retail outlets as a primary revenue stream. It was the best choice, as we had seen where hotel occupancies fell significantly and soon after, so did product orders.”
Now the duo are thinking of exporting.
The Dempsters sell a product which features, “aged cow's milk cheese that embodies Jamaican ingredients”.
It includes, alternatively, Scotch bonnet peppers, pimentos, coffee, jerk rub, sorrel, chocolate and even banana leaves to craft authentic, locally made cheese.
Hurders is their first and only business. The couple shared, “We were young college students who knew we wanted to make a positive impact on our local economy through food so when the idea of cheese making came up we just ran with it. It was all very spontaneous but at that moment we knew it was the perfect business idea for us.”
At the University of Technology, Jamaica in St Andrew, Gordon studied finance and economics, while Kristina studied the culinary arts. The new project has benefitted from their joint skilling.
They built a manufacturing facility on family property and sourced milk from local dairy farmers. Asked about start-up costs, they replied, “We aren't too comfortable talking about start-up capital at this point in our business.”
They started, they said, “quite small, using just what we had and grew incrementally, so capital wise, we did not have many challenges. As we grew, we began applying for grants and that allowed us to accomplish goals in a shorter period.”
They have travelled abroad repeatedly for training to increase knowledge of cheese making and have even launched a Farm Tour offering a visit to the dairy that supplies them with the milk.
The company continues to grow in response to demand. Consumers' taste changes periodically and so the Dempsters are always offering something new. As to products which are most in demand, they say, “Sometimes it's our Jamaican Jack (Jack cheese with Scotch bonnet peppers, pimentos and jerk rub), other times it's our Red Maroon (sorrel and Red Label Wine).
“Each product really stands on its own with its own 'personalities', for Jamaican Jack, people are picking up flavours that they are extremely familiar with as jerk is such a big part of our culture and with Red Maroon, it has those classic Jamaican Christmas flavours that will draw customers in.”
Current targets for sales and distribution are the hotels, supermarkets, restaurants, boutique food stores, everyday consumers and cheese enthusiasts.
They started by using courier services to distribute products at first, but as they grew, they moved into more scheduled deliveries with retailers, a strategy which has improved over time.
Their growth strategy is embedded in making high quality cheeses, “using the best ingredients possible and presenting those to our customers. We only put out what we ourselves would want as cheese lovers.”
As for 2022, the Dempsters said, “We will be expanding our reach to the regional and international markets as well with the same/similar target groups in mind. The international cheese market is valued at US$72 billion as of 2020 and we currently operate within less than one per cent of that.
“We are targeting the region, the US and Canada to begin with. We already have existing relationships with some overseas retailers but for behind the scenes strategies, we will be working with the JMEA (Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters Association) to complete our entire export project.”
Since start-up the couple say that they have been able to grow and have made back their initial investments. Their products are now present in 18 retail chains including Loshusan, SuperValu Fresh Foods, General Foods, The Butcher Block, CPJ Market, Eleni's Bakery, Progressive Foods, Jamaica Food and Drink Kitchen, LFA Country Store, and L&M Meats Limited.
They distribute to five parishes — Kingston and St Andrew, St James, St Ann and St Mary — and intend toexpand.