Charles praises ‘geniuses’ behind his organic food brand

The Prince of Wales has praised the “geniuses” behind the organic food brand he founded as it reached a landmark £1 billion of sales from the past decade.

Charles officially opened the new Waitrose & Partners’ Food Innovation Studio on Thursday where Duchy Organic products and recipes will be developed.

The organic food range was originally set up by the Prince of Wales in 1990, with Waitrose holding exclusive licensing rights since 2009.

During his tour at the retailer’s headquarters in Bracknell, Berkshire, Charles was told that the decade-long partnership had exceeded £1 billion in sales and raised over £23.5 million for The Prince of Wales’s Charitable Fund.

The Prince of Wales opens Waitrose & Partners’ Food Innovation Studio
The Prince of Wales saw where chefs trial new dishes and recipes (Stuart Wilson/PA)

After unveiling a commemorative plaque Charles praised the gathered Waitrose staff – known as partners – for their work to turn the brand into “such a success”.

“Well done everybody. You are geniuses,” he said.

The prince met chefs who are developing and trialling new dishes to add to the Duchy Organic range.

This includes the range’s first mincemeat product which will be hitting supermarket shelves for Christmas.

Executive chef for food innovation Jonathan Moore said: “He was really quite knowledgeable and also very interested in how we go about doing product development and innovation.”

Mr Moore added: “You can tell there’s a genuine warmth and interest in the Duchy brand, he really wants to engage.”

In the food studio kitchen Charles was shown ingredients that go into a new roasted gratin recipe, before meeting a panel of food testers who check on the quality of Duchy products in development.

The Prince of Wales opens Waitrose & Partners’ Food Innovation Studio
The Prince of Wales praised the Waitrose staff (Stuart Wilson/PA)

Tasting a “very good” mince pie containing the new mincemeat, Charles said: “Getting the pastry right is so crucial.”

He joked with the panel: “How do you ever come to a conclusion? It must be incredibly difficult.”

Charles also met Dr Cait Murray-Green, CEO of CuanTec, whose company is developing an experimental home compostable film made out of langoustine shells which otherwise would go to waste.

The aim is to create packaging that will extend products’ shelf life and reduce the use of plastic.

“At least that’s one less waste product, we’re trying to get rid of all these waste products,” Charles said.

He was also introduced to apple growers and cider makers whose products will be used in the new mincemeat recipe.

At the end of his tour he received a special hamper of Duchy Organic products from two long serving Waitrose partners.

Waitrose has invested more than £1.5 million in its Food Innovation Studio which has an innovation kitchen, a cookery theatre for training courses, a dedicated “ideas room” and five tasting rooms.

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