Mackie’s of Scotland – a fair wind for family firm’s fortunes

Mackie’s of Scotland Crisps

Mackie’s of Scotland owes its success to its 1600-acre location, where the wind, land and cows help produce fresh milk and power for the ice cream dairy.

“We call this process a design chain” says Karin, Marketing Director for Mackie’s “which begins with the wind and weather, the wind provides power from our three wind turbines, offering a renewable energy supply and the benefit of reducing our carbon footprint for the farm. The sun and rain help grow the crops to feed the cows to produce the milk and cream to make Mackie’s ice cream – simple!”

The Mackie family has been farming at Westertown Farm since the turn of the century. Formerly a milk retail company, due to increased demand for semi-skimmed milk Mackie’s was left with surplus cream and the perfect solution was to manufacture ice cream.

“We have 500 cows and the dairy now makes over 10 million litres of luxury ice cream a year“ says Karin.” We have a selection of popular flavours like Honeycomb and Chocolate and different ranges, but our best seller remains our first – Mackie’s classic Traditional flavour, it is a natural, creamy flavour – and that is still my favourite!”

The Mackie sisters have senior management roles at the farm, Kirstin is Development Director and both have been in the business for over 15 years. 

Working for the family business was not an automatic decision, as children they were encouraged by their father, Maitland, Chairman of Mackie’s to follow their skills and interest in any field or business. It is with some surprise that they find all three siblings are now working together at the business, where brother Mac is Managing Director.

“It is fortunate that we are quite different and suited to the different roles we now have – and that we all get on!” comments Kirstin. “After attending Aberdeen University I worked in the NHS for three years in business management until I was offered the chance to come and work on a project making chocolate for Mackie’s – how could I refuse that!

We had a fantastic childhood growing up on the farm. I have very happy memories of growing up on the farm, playing in the different seasons and having holiday jobs helping out in the dairy or picking potatoes. It was always busy on the farm, different products and changes being made, but many of the same people have been working with us for years. It is fun to be involved in a business like this.”

Following their ice cream success, Mackie’s turned their hand to snacks and launched a new range of potato crisps in June 2009; in partnership with the Taylors, another Scottish farming family business, whose expertise lies in the Scottish tattie!

Kirstin led the diversification into crisps, and has just spent almost 3 years as Managing Director of the new joint venture business – taking it from launch to a turnover of £2.6 million and global export success.

With an investment of over 1.5m of equipment Mackie’s Machinery is a unique, gentle cooking process for making thick cut premium crisps.  The cooking process can be the making or breaking of a tasty crisp as it can affect the taste, aroma and texture. Mackie’s use high oleic sunflower oil, which is gently heated by thermal oil (not direct gas burners) which helps keeps the oil in good condition with the perfect end result – the crisps have the right crunch, a fresh potato taste and a unique dry texture.

“It has been a steep learning curve,” says Kirstin. “We’re making a natural product and the potatoes can be different every hour of every day – we grow special varieties which are best suited for making crisps and they all require different regimes of care – but they can still vary across one field depending on the soil conditions. The Taylor family have many years of expertise in both growing, storing and processing potatoes which has enabled us to bring the product to market.”

Mackie’s crisps come in traditional flavours and a range of special limited Scottish flavours and is proving popular around the world. They are now on sale in over 20 countries and Kirstin is excited about the opportunity to grow sales in the biggest consumer market in the world. “We launched with some particularly Scottish flavours like Haggis and Black Pepper” said Karin  “which we thought might help provide interest at the outset. To our slight surprise, the Haggis flavour has been a great success and is a permanent part of the range. The interest it causes was described by one of our customers in the USA as ‘The Haggis Halo effect’!” Mackie’s now makes eight flavours and latest being a crispy bacon flavour.

Mackie’s vision is to be a global brand from the greenest company in Britain created by people having fun. It seems that with a fair wind they are well on their way.

For more information visit www.mackies.co.uk 

Poppy Watt 

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Mackie’s of Scotland would like to offer you the chance to win a year of indulgence - a chequebook of 52 vouchers that enables you to enjoy a year supply of ice cream.

To enter just answer the following question:

Why are Mackie’s crisps magic? 

The answer can be found on the back of a packet of Mackie’s crisps or go to www.mackiescrisps.co.uk for assistance.

Send your answer to competitions@womentalking.co.uk ensuring you place the word Mackie’s in the subject header and also include your Women Talking username with the submission.

Please note this competition has now closed and the winner will be announced shortly.