Tunnock’s growth vision is un-wafer-ing

Confectioner keeps investing in staff and factory

Family values still remain at the hear of the famous Tunnock's Uddingston site.
Family values still remain at the hear of the famous Tunnock’s Uddingston site.

“MADE in Scotland, loved worldwide” – that’s what one of the promotional slogans for Tunnock’s proclaims.

And the fact that the famous confectioner produces a staggering 14million products a week at its landmark Uddingston factory proves the truth of the claim.

Scottish Grocer was recently invited to the 250,000sq ft facility to see first-hand how the hugely popular Caramel Wafers and Tea Cakes are made alongside the Caramel Logs, Snowballs and Wafer Creams.

As well as 700 loyal staff who are dedicated to ensuring the treats are made to a consistently high standard, a huge amount of automated machinery has been built for the factory in recent years.

The Tunnock family have never been afraid to invest and, to keep up with demand as well as serve new markets across the globe, £65million has been spent on the business during the last eight years, said director Bill Gow.

But fellow director Fergus Loudon stressed that the ongoing automation didn’t come at the expense of staff – quite the opposite, in fact.

Colleagues, of whom more are needed and who really embrace the new technology, remain key to the production process and there are always roles for staff to fulfil, he said.

Importantly, every time that Tunnock’s upgrades or brings in new equipment, it works with the machine manufacturers to improve processes thanks to lessons learned from experience.

Tunnock's treats are enjoyed by consumers around the globe.
Tunnock’s treats are enjoyed by consumers around the globe.

And while the speed and scale of production is mesmerising to watch, the figures are just as impressive.

Operating 24 hours a day during the week and with some work at weekends, the firm creates 140 tonnes of chocolate and 120 tonnes of caramel a week. On top of that, 140,000 wafers are baked each day.

And the automation allows as many as 2,400 caramel wafers to be wrapped each minute.

For the teacakes, 1,000 biscuit bases can pass along the production line a minute and 5,000 bowls of mallow are created each week.

Gow explained that the fact the teacakes were individually wrapped was important not only for the freshness but also to enhance the customer anticipation and enjoyment.

And while Tunnock’s has a proud Scottish heritage, England is its biggest market and its global reach extends to 38 countries, including the likes of the USA, Canada, Australia and Japan, with the Middle East also important.

But despite the growth, family values such as nurturing staff and building good relations with suppliers remains at the heart of the business.

As does chairman Sir Boyd Tunnock, who Scottish Grocer met as he enthusiastically carried out his daily visit to the factory even as he approached his 91st birthday.

Loudon concluded: “Our success is down to the confidence consumers have in our products. But for that, we have to get them right.”