Attracted by its good products and potential to scale, Steven Turner bought Who ate all the Pies? from its original owners and spent the following two years working on product development. Last year, the company won Highly Commended at the NZ Food Awards in the Artisan category. We sat with him to talk about his vision and the future of the business.
What is your company background, how did you start the business?
“I purchased Who ate all the Pies? After becoming acquainted with the pies at the Otago Farmers Market shortly after arriving in March 2008. The original owners put it up for sale after coming to a crossroads on where they went to next. At that time, I was looking for work, had a track record in SME development and was so happy with the pies that I bought the company! The company not only had a good product but it had the potential to scale, and that is what I bought it.
Initially, I stripped the business back, largely stopping wholesaling and spent two years product developing and refining what we did, what ingredients we were to use and the way we were to produce it. In addition, I added my own cultural background into the pie offerings from ingredients and styles that really gave us a point of difference. That different approach and flavour profile has served us well to date.”
What are the current product range and variants and how do these products stand out in the market?
“Our progress to date has been in the High End Family Pie space and we’ve become a must stock for many forward-thinking delis around the country. We have a major following and growing fan base. Our pastry is different from what is usual in NZ. We use pork lard, which makes a cleaner pastry than you’d expect, and we roll it thinner so people can concentrate on the filling not get bogged down in a stodgy dough texture. The fillings themselves are seared and slow-cooked over 12 hours and are thickened in a unique way within our industry. In the end, it is this slow cook and thickening process that helps our pies stand out amongst the crowd.”
Has there been any recent company news?
“1. We’ve just added 400 percent capacity in production and packaging, which puts us in good stead to talk to and service larger organisations.
2. We are about to relaunch our authentic Cornish pasties and pork pies. The new packaging will allow their sales as a grab-and-go product in high-end delis and those with an UK expat clientele, as well as the many Kiwis that love a good pork pie.
3. The sheer demand for our style of product at the high-end of the pie market has finally made us bite the bullet and very soon we will launch in new packaging a single pie range that has been heavily tested over the years in the local Dunedin market place. We hope it will bring us good new distribution on cold shelves and in hot hold deli cabinets nationwide.”
What are the plans for the business moving forward, is there any expansion on the horizon?
“We expect to rapidly develop over the next 12 months as larger organisations realise we can become a trusted supplier to them. Our unique products and methods mean there is always going to be a strong demand for our offerings in savvy delis and retail outlets. We have quietly put in the infrastructure to make that happen and are now ready to go over the next six months.”
Where are your products currently available to buy, and are you looking at or wanting to expand your availability? If so, where would you like to see the product situated?
“We currently supply 100+ supermarkets per week right across the country and have the capacity to service at least another 100 - 150 or so. We believe the products we offer can work as a direct-to-store model and the speciality items as a DC product. I expect our new single pie range will really benefit supermarkets who need a high-end branded pie offering in their hot hold cupboards. We look forward to impressing pie fans nationwide with this hot offering going forward.”