At this year’s Eat In DStv Food Network Awards*, Sweet Temptations was named as the best small producer in the confectionary category, as well as the winner of the Melissa’s award, the prize for which is a presence on shelves in Melissa’s stores.
Anita Labuschagne, the driving force behind Sweet Temptations soft toffees, says the award means a lot to her team. “Sweet Temptations started out as a small family business, and we have worked so hard to promote our brand and get our product known in South Africa. This reward is the cherry on the cake!”
Anita was certainly among the best of local produce on show at the Slowmarket on Saturday 24 March 2012, where the awards winners were announced – and that’s saying a lot. “More and more South Africans are moving away from commercial products and are enjoying produce directly from the farmers and small producers who still believe in using quality ingredients,” Anita enthuses.
But using top local ingredients doesn’t mean that the recipes are set in stone. Anita says that one of the most exciting jobs in her business is product development. The brand has removed some of the slow sellers from the range and created several new products, one of which is a Madeira toffee packed with almonds and pecan nuts, white chocolate, and the aromas of cardamom, star anise, cinnamon. “And a very exciting new flavour is still under wraps,” Anita tells me. (Keep an eye on their Facebook page to be the first to hear about it. We hear talk of a new pomegranate and white chocolate flavour…)
Her suppliers have supported Anita over the last few years, and have alwayscome to the party – even when she’s been extremely demanding, she confesses. “Nelia from Stuck On You Stickers is always ready to do the lovely Sweet Temptations T-shirts, and delivers on time even when I have the most unreasonable demands! The most reliable couriers in the world, MDS Collivery, always get our toffees on time to our valued customers, and Carl Wighard from Clifton Packaging is the supplier of our pretty packaging,” she says.
When I ask if these awards would bring any changes to Anita’s way of doing business, she replies that even though the business might need to expand, she will stick to her ethics. “We want to stay true to our hand-made product using quality ingredients, and focus on a happy, healthy environment for our staff, rather than an industrial environment with more machines and less people.”
You can find Sweet Temptations toffees in Poetry stores, several upmarket delis, and in Melissa’s stores. They also supply an energy bar to the Cape Union Mart Group, but Sweet Temptations will always have a home at the Stellenbosch Slowmarket. “It gives us the opportunity to stay in touch with what our customers want, and this is the place where you get honest feedback directly from them.”
Before ending our chat, I ask Anita if there’s anything she’d like to add. “Is this my Oscar moment?” she jokes, before adding, “Thanks to all our wonderful customers for getting hooked on our toffees. I want to thank Slowmarket for giving me the platform to introduce our product; my fantastic family who supported me and helped me to make this hobby a success; and our wonderful group of wrapping aunties (and Rob) for always being there when needed. To all my friends and family who I’ve neglected over the past two years: live with it! I’m having fun and loving it!”
Buy your copy of the 2012 Eat In magazine here.
*These awards will be known as the Eat Out Small Producer Awards from 2013 onwards.