Posted: 30.07.20 at 08:40 by Derek Davis
It was a year in the making and now a go-getting peninsula schoolgirl has brought a brand new chocolate bar to the market.
Nutty Stars has been designed, tasted, and made by a member of Anna Sterling's Year 5/6 class and is now on sale at five Co-ops in the region.
Youngsters at Shotley primary school successfully presented at a Dragon's Den style interview and all were praised for their creative ideas.
11-year-old Olivia Cresswell created Nutty Stars, made with hazelnut, white and dark chocolate and marshmallows and that proved a winner with the judges.
Four 'Dragons' comprising of senior executives from chocolate experts Hadleigh Maid and the East of England Co-op, were impressed enough with competition winner Olivia to help with the production process and stock it on shop shelves.
It is a huge step from originally selling a few sample bars at the school's fete last June and it has been a hugely beneficial learning experience for the youngsters.
"This was an absolutely fantastic experience for the children and never did I imagine that the Co-op and one of their suppliers would be so willing to run with the idea," Mrs Sterling told Nub News. "The feedback about the children was also amazing- the Dragons commented upon how prepared and articulate they were.
"The school and the children would like to thank everyone involved for providing the children with a real-life and unforgettable experience."
Other inventions put forward by pupils included a milk and white chocolate shortbread biscuit, and a milk chocolate covered chocolate brownie.
Gavin Bowie from Hadleigh Maid, an artisan chocolate producer, said: “It’s fabulous to get input from new talent and tastebuds and keeps us on our toes – thinking of ways to expand the range we already produce.
“The children were extremely enthusiastic, and we were bowled over by the unbelievable ideas they had. If we could have made all of them winners, we would have done.”
Nutty Stars journey began when the children tasted a range of chocolate (from white to 90% cocoa), then undertook market research on packaging and colours used.
A visit by Pump Street Chocolate in Woodbridge gave the nine to 11-year-olds an insight into the different flavours of bean from around the world and they taste tested some samples. Mrs Sterling visited the factory to learn how they make chocolate, and taught the children the process, plus the importance of fair trade for cocoa producers.
The Shotley children did their market research, learnt about Fair Trade, explored the power of packaging, calculated costs, sales and profit margins and visited Felixstowe Docks to find out about shipping and exports.
They then designed and budgeted for a chocolate to sell at the school fair, which they first trialled and then made, and presented in their own packaging.
It was such a success Mrs Sterling went to the Co-op and the children were then set the task of presenting to the 'Dragons' and with some tips from experienced sales man Graham Pink, Director of Comdronic in Ipswich, children created presentations, using Powerpoint to support them, gave their pitch last July.
The children presented their ideas, smartly dressed, with samples, packaging and ingredient lists, pricing of ingredients, selling price and profit, and their key selling points, to the panel.
Olivia, who worked on her own, won, and so a visit to Hadleigh Maid followed with Mrs Sterling, so she could share her idea with their chocolate maker. Olivia also worked with a member of their design team on ideas for packaging.
Shotley primary school headteacher Richard Dedicoat explained how using chocolate has helped children adapt to new subjects at the school.
Mr Dedicoat said: "Our curriculum, that has been rewritten to include three key drivers of the arts, the environment and global awareness enables our teachers to plan exciting and meaningful learning opportunities for our children.
"The theme of chocolate was used to enable the children to have a full understanding about the origins of chocolate, how the ingredients make it into the country (with a school trip to Felixstowe Docks to take this learning further) and then engaging with local businesses to make the learning for the children even more realistic. It also fits beautifully in with a number of ASSET Education trust values of excellence, empowerment and engagement.
"I'm looking forward to getting my hands on some Nutty Stars, although having tasted the proto types they're probably sold out by now."
Nutty Star's bars are available in Holbrook, Felixstowe, Manningtree, Rushmere and Ipswich. If it is successful, then the Co-op will consider keeping the product on their shelves.