It all began in 1986 when Ray Boakes was happily selling fruit and veg in London.
One day he had a light bulb idea. He thought about this idea long and hard until he decided it was such a good one he needed to turn it into reality, and the idea was this.
There was very little iceberg lettuce being grown in the UK to speak of at the time as Webbs Wonder was so popular. McDonalds however wanted to source iceberg specially for their hamburgers. So Ray, who had been to the States and recognised the potential of iceberg approached them and not only offered them the product they wanted but also to shred it for them. Vacuum cooling technology was available and being used by growers by then and this all enabled the development of iceberg varieties with good shelf life.
One thing led to another as we know it often does and in no time Southern Salads were shredding lettuce by hand supplying all the McDonalds branches on the South coast.
Soon this was turning into a proper family business. Ray's wife Val was running the office and daughter Lisa was working in sales as well as sons Paul and Andrew who had joined in production and technical. To this day many of the family are the cogs and wheels of the business. Ray remains CEO while Val is Head of Finance and Admin and Andrew is MD. Even granddaughter Sam has crept in as Purchase Ledger Controller. You're more than likely to come across them if you come down and visit.
In no time at all Southern Salads had grown to capacity and in 1997 the current Tonbridge site opened to a bit of a fanfare with lots of lovely swish equipment; multi head weighers, salad and vegetable processing lines and Edward Scissorhands precision slicing machinery.
Customers by now included Burger King, soon to be joined by KFC, all of whom are still loyally supplied today. In the late nineties these were joined by restaurants such as Whitbread, Food to Go, Foodservice and many sandwich manufacturers and retailers. Many of the sandwiches and salads on the high street are lovingly made with our delicious leafy combinations.
We have now integrated our business with veg and fruit prepping company ventures in the UK and Europe to further enhance our product portfolio. Innovation remains at the forefront of everything we do whether it's buying state of the art creepy crawly debugging washing systems or dynamic product development which includes everything from our famous single micro veg packs for the pub groups, apple fries and fresh to cook soup ranges.
So why don't you pop down and see us. We'll show you around and see what we can do just for you.