Dedicated cook Melanie Auld came up with the idea for her Spice Pots, a range of dry spice blends designed to make cooking curry easier, while cooking up her treats for family and friends.
And she will see her entrepreneurial idea hit the shelves of 1,050 Aldi stores across the UK and Ireland from Sunday – in time for National Curry Week.
The Spice Pots collection going on sale at Aldi features four curry powder blends: Korma (mild), Bhuna (medium), Tandoori (medium) and Goan (hot). Each blend of spices, which come in 40g (RRP £1.49) pots providing eight servings, is 100 per cent natural and vegan-friendly.
The nationwide Aldi listing is the latest step in a journey which began with a trip to India in the 90s and came to life a decade later in the kitchen of an isolated house on the West Coast of Scotland.
Founder and managing director Melanie Auld, a mother-of-three, first fell in love with spices and curry in 1993 while working and travelling in India. Back in the UK, making authentic Indian curries from scratch - by roasting whole spices, grinding them and then adding other whole spices to create perfectly balanced dishes - became a passion.
Fast forward to the late 2000s and she was living off the beaten track in Arrochar, Argyll, where she had three sons in three years. Without time to shop for and cook all the different spices from scratch, Melanie began to make her own spice blends which she started sharing with friends.
In 2014, the former events manager took the plunge and turned her DIY spice blends into a business, initially blending, packaging and distributing her Spice Pots from home, while selling at farmers markets and small local outlets.
After moving to Gullane in East Lothian she outsourced production and gradually grew the business to the point where Spice Pots is on sale in over 400 stockists across Scotland and England and Ireland. In 2017, she secured her first international listings in Germany and is also a best-selling product on Amazon marketplace.
In January, Aldi stocked Spice Pots in their 92 Scottish stores for the first time, with sales so successful that the curry powders will now be available across Aldi’s UK network of stores.
Melanie said: “This is a huge milestone moment for me and for Spice Pots. When I started blending spices in my kitchen, it was just a shortcut for me to be able to cook tasty and healthy curries for my family, while I was so busy with my three young sons.
“I didn’t start with a grand plan, but it gradually grew from word of mouth among friends and me spending lots of days selling at farmers markets and getting listings with small stockists around the country.
“As it’s become more popular, I could see its potential, so my ambition has grown and I set my sights on selling in larger volumes and this listing with Aldi is a dream turned into a reality.”
Lucy Husband, Market Development and Business Engagement Director at Scotland Food & Drink, added: “Spice Pots is a fantastic business with the Goan Blend picking up a Scotland Food & Drink Excellence Award in 2018, so we’re delighted to see Aldi bringing this award-winning product to more consumers.
“Scotland Food & Drink work closely with our retail and foodservice partners to cultivate opportunities for Scottish suppliers so it’s really exciting to see Spice Pots secure this new partnership with Aldi after first being introduced at our Meet the Buyer event at the Royal Highland Show in 2018.
“We’re seeing a growing appetite to support local producers, so it’s the perfect time for Scottish suppliers to take advantage and we’ll keep putting support in place to make it happen."