Peter Duncan of Stapleton Farm stuck to his guns in his belief in traditional and additive-free production methods for yoghurt and ice cream - and Sainsbury worked its magic

Using traditional methods to produce additive-free yoghurt and ice cream from Jersey cows&' milk - as well as a range of home-made fruit conserves - has attracted a loyal and passionate customer base for the products from Stapleton Farm.
From the start in 1975 when he began the business on his father&'s dairy farm in Devon, founding partner Peter Duncan was determined not to compromise the product with artificial sweeteners, colourings, flavour enhancers and stabilisers.
After initial scepticism among local shopkeepers, who felt that his strawberry yoghurt did not look pink enough, he and his wife Carol have built a thriving business supplying schools with what they claim is healthier yoghurt than that provided by their competitors.
The small company&'s tentative growth was transformed in 1997 when a Sainsbury buyer spotted a tub of Stapleton Farm yoghurt in Sir Terence Conran&'s then flagship foodmarket the Bluebird Gastrodome on Chelsea&'s King&'s Road.
Sainsbury decided that it wanted Stapleton Farm to make its Handmade Farmhouse Yoghurt and launched what was then the most expensive pot yoghurt on the market and a significant forerunner of the now burgeoning premium yoghurt sector.
The same Sainsbury buyer also took them into ice cream, with the supply of a similar luxury product for its Taste the Difference label in 2000, for which it has won loads of accolades.
But in 2005 Stapleton Farm lost its Taste the Difference contract for yoghurt to a rival, and Duncan believes that price was the deciding issue.
"One of the big enemies of good produce these days is value engineering," says Duncan.
"If you try to cut corners on the cost of ingredients it can ruin a product for the sake of a fraction of a penny, and a fraction of a penny on the retail price is not what the purchaser cares about."
The company launched its own range of three 25% fruit, 0.5% fat premium yoghurts last year. They are stocked nationwide by Sainsbury and Waitrose and listed in the south west by Asda, Morrisons, Spar and The
Co-operative Group.
"For a small company such as us to make a profitable living, the only place for us to be is at the finer end of the market," says Duncan.