Unicorn Ingredients has achieved a lot in its first decade, becoming a £30m turnover company operating in 35 countries around the world. And the future promises more of the same. Ten years ago, Frank Horan and Nikki Divers had a vision of the way an ingredients wholesaler should be run. Of setting up a hands-on company which always put the customer first. Both had been working with seeds and pulses for 20 years. They knew the industry inside out, they were passionate about what they did. The timing was as right as it ever would be. So, the two started to look for suitable premises, opening the Unicorn Ingredients office in Epsom, Surrey in 2008. They have not looked back since.
A happy workplace is a productive workplace and Unicorn Ingredients’ head office in Epsom, Surrey is both those things. Unicorn Ingredients is not a company which just pays lip service to good employee relations. The compan has seen so little staff turnover in its first ten years that the joint founders, Nicola Divers and Frank Horan, can only think of a handful of people who have left. Most have stayed for the whole ten years. The whole ethos of the company is geared towards making it the sort of business that everyone enjoys working in, and that customers enjoy working with.
Unicorn Ingredients has had a strong relationship with Eastern Europe since the company’s conception 10 years ago. The region is a primary source to a few of its lead products, including brown and golden linseed, sunflower and millet, to name a few. Primarily, the countries sourced from are Ukraine, Poland and Bulgaria, as they offer a reliable and good quality supply base with a strong focus on continually improving consistency. The region is important to Unicorn Ingredients for a variety of reasons, one of these being that it provides the company with a strong non-GMO supply chain, as well as a highly competitive supply base.
Linseed is the seed from the flax plant (Linum usitatissimum), a member of the Linaceae family. The thin yellow or brown seed is one of the oldest cultivated crops and originates from the Mediterranean and Western Asia. The seeds are mainly grown in regions with lower winter temperatures and processed for their nutritional value and high content of fibre and oil. Today Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Poland and Argentina are some of the largest global producers of linseed.
The poppy seed is an oilseed obtained from the pods of the poppy plant (Papaver somniferum). The pods contain a large amount of white, grey or bluish seeds. Poppy seeds have been cultivated for over 3,000 years and grow best at cool temperatures between 10 to 15 degrees centigrade. Today, poppy seeds are produced mainly in Central European and Asian countries …
It is full steam ahead for Unicorn Ingredients’ satellite office in central Gujarat, India, which is planning to start importing seeds to India as well as exporting from the sub-continent.
Unicorn Ingredients will be returning this year to Europe’s biggest bakery trade show, IBA, taking place in Munich from 15 to 20 September 2018. UK-based Unicorn will be displaying a broad range of seeds and grains, including sesame and pumpkin seeds as well as poppy seeds at the international trade show. Also at show will be pre-mixes for bread and biscuits and specialist ingredients for eco and organic bakery products …
Australia is an important country to Unicorn due to its large scale production of its native seed, Poppy. It is also an area of opportunity with the prospect of developing specialist honey, amongst other products, and we are exploring different avenues as to how we can make this work in the long term …
Unicorn Ingredients manages the complicated logistical demands of its business by keeping focused on three key supply chain priorities. As a business that operates in 34 countries globally and sources a complex range of seasonal products, Unicorn Ingredients must maintain a highly-sophisticated supply chain. And it is a supply chain that must be robust enough to be tested by harvest failures and natural disasters such as the recent devastating volcano in Guatemala.
Unicorn Ingredients’ base in China allows it to build close relationships with suppliers of key products and embrace local opportunities and expertise. As the Chinese market started to take off in 2011, Unicorn Ingredients registered its first overseas office in the country, as part of its global expansion objective. A Chinese office provides a vital communications conduit for UK-based Unicorn, in dealing with its many Chinese suppliers and Chinese customers.