An award-winning Cornish chocolate maker is planning a major expansion thanks to an investment of more than £850,000.

Buttermilk started life as a traditional fudge shop in the heart of Padstow in 1964. Now, 60 years later, the business has pioneered a range of award-winning dairy-free chocolate bars that are stocked by major retailers and wholesalers across the UK and sold online.

With sales growth of 225% for its ‘plant-powered’ confectionery, including a growing export market, the brand is embarking on a major expansion thanks to £852,573 of funding from the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Good Growth programme.

The £930,000 project will see Buttermilk combine and expand two production units on to one site at its Bodmin base, in addition to creating 14 jobs in the future with the aim of doubling production.

Following the expansion the company intends to create new products such as low-calorie options, and also develop further its overseas market - having already had interest from mainland Europe, the US, Ireland and Australia. 

To support year-round employment, the business will also invest in developing a multi-skilled production team, who will all take part in training and development programmes in food safety, quality, and technology.

The 420 square metre factory extension will include solar panels on the roof and a heat recovery system, to reuse heat extracted from refrigeration for hot water and cleaning.

This, it is hoped, will significantly reduce the factory’s carbon footprint, in line with the Good Growth programme’s key principles.

Buttermilk was taken over by husband-and-wife team David and Tracy Goad in 2010, when it was a small seasonal fudge producer.

By 2016 they had transformed it into a sustainable year-round employer with listings in Waitrose, Sainsbury, Tesco and more.

After the success of a dairy free Easter egg in 2018, the company secured funding to develop a pilot production line of dairy free chocolate snack bars in 2021 and has never looked back.

Tracy, who studied international business and worked for Bloomberg, said: “We are deeply appreciative of the grant funding which is going into our kitchen expansion, to increase our capacity to meet the growing demand for our hugely successful and innovative plant-powered chocolate bars.

"This project is another stepping stone towards our vision of creating quality, stable year-round employment in Cornwall.

“We diversified our confectionery range in 2018 and took it to national and international markets, growing by 225% by reaching consumers beyond summer seasonal visitors in Cornwall.

"We are investing in the futures of our team, which is wonderful given the current economic climate and challenges of the last few years.

“We’re committed to meeting the Living Wage across the business and we’re delighted that the award provides funding for training for our team to increase their skills and pay.”

She said not only was the expansion great news for Cornwall but also its environment.

“By creating a circular energy usage, we will reduce our energy consumption and maximise every kilowatt we use. And the reduction of inter-site transfers will send fewer lorries down our local roads,” she added.

"We are grateful to the Cornwall Council team who have worked solidly with us to reach this moment. Now we knuckle down to the hard work of delivering the project with the support of this much-valued investment.”

Her husband David, who has a degree in mechanical engineering, is innovation lead in the business.

He explained: “Having a ringfenced ‘free-from’ production line with zero risk of cross-contamination has allowed us to develop delicious products that are suitable for everyone, regardless of lifestyle choice or dietary requirements.

“The expansion will allow us to meet growing demand and explore new products such as low-calorie options, and overseas markets where we already have interest from retailers in mainland Europe, the US, Ireland, and Australia. The investment will make a huge difference.”

The Good Growth programme is a £137 million local investment plan managed by Cornwall Council and paid for by the Government’s UK Shared Prosperity Fund. It aims to boost prosperity by investing in communities, supporting local businesses, people and skills.

The Fund is part of UK Government’s Levelling Up agenda, which is offering £2.6 billion of funding for local investment by March 2025.