Commended Factory in the South West sponsored by CIGNA Employee Benefits.
When it opened in 1960, Birds Eye Wall's Gloucester factory was the world's biggest single producer of ice cream - as well as, of course, the most modern. Occupying 74 acres, it is still a sizeable establishment, one of the largest to enter this year's competition. Its production statistics are on a suitably grand scale: 110,000 tonnes of ice cream per year, 200 million 'cones' (ie, frozen lollipops), 5,500 tonnes of frozen desserts such as Viennetta and Romantica. Just one Cornetto? Gloucester makes them at the rate of around 87 million a year.
The manufacturing challenge is equally large. Few businesses are more seasonal - or more unpredictable. Demand may shoot up 14-fold in a heat wave, and collapse just as spectacularly when the mercury falls again. Birds Eye Wall's strategy has been to stake out a position at the top of the market with strong brands, and to avoid price competition by other means wherever possible. Viennetta, for example, is manufactured by a patented process that was developed in Gloucester.