Small Business Saturday Blog

Dorset's Ice Cream Appreciation Society

Tuesday, October 11, 2022 at 13:05

Baboo Gelato is a Dorset-based ice cream manufacturer that focuses obsessively on using the best possible ingredients, sourced as locally and seasonally as possible.

Annie and Sam Hanbury started the business because they wanted to use the incredible local ingredients available in their area of the West Country. Annie trained as a gelatierie (master ice cream maker) in Bologna, Italy, before opening Baboo in 2016 with one small kiosk in the seaside town of West Bay.
Sam told us, “From day one, people recognised that local seasonal ingredients in a well-made ice cream served by happy staff in an eccentrically decorated kiosk really can make one’s day!” Major awards quickly followed: Baboo Gelato was named Champion Ice Cream from Taste of the West in 2016 and 2020, and has placed in the top three finalists every other year. The business was Best British Speciality Food in the Great British Food Awards and has won many stars from Great Taste. Meanwhile, they’ve grown from one to six kiosks, and serve about 200 restaurants, pubs, farm shops and stately homes in their local area.
The overriding ethos of the business is buying local. Their milk is organic, from a farm just 10 miles away, and is delivered daily. Sam says, “Happy cows grazing on rich Somerset meadows is a great start, and Eastfield Farm has the best animal welfare standards we’ve ever seen.”
With their focus on buying locally and seasonally, they support many local farms, with tractors and vans filled with fruit turning up at their door all summer long. They told us that they love fruit that is ripe and misshapen, not bland and supermarket-ready. Ugly fruit is welcome, and local fruit suppliers use them when they have excess stock, all of which reduces food waste. They also forage in hedgerows for under-rated ingredients like elderflower. As Sam says, “The first step to sustainability is to stop sourcing stuff globally when you’ve got a fruit farm at the end of your lane.” With ice cream this good, very little is left unsold, but occasional excess stock is sold through ‘Too Good to Go’, so nothing is thrown out.
Their highly skilled manufacturing team makes all their ice cream by hand. Many teenagers in West Dorset will have their first summer job with Baboo, where they are trained well and treated with respect. Sam told us, “Our staff handbook is a legendary book of obsessive detail about the preparation, care and presentation of ice cream. Our staff come back to us year after year so we must be doing something right.”
They give back to their local and international community too. Their ‘all proceeds to’ days have this year included Ukraine, as well as local water polo and youth football teams. The team is looking forward to working with other #SmallBiz100 businesses too: Sam told us, “We’re also excited to be brought together with other energetic and successful small businesses from across the UK, as there are so many ideas to be shared.”
The stainless steel containers used in Baboo Gelato’s kiosks are endlessly reused: each one will be used over 100 times a year, for many years, saving over two tonnes of plastic per outlet. They use Vegware or other compostable packaging suppliers for their tubs and cups and allow no plastic water or soft drink bottles in their kiosks.
As to the future, they are currently building a new manufacturing site that will enable them to grow geographically; and are grateful to companies such as American Express that help them find new customers. Sam told us, “After two years of pandemic and now a cost of living crisis, it is so important that people support small, local businesses. We’re so grateful for American Express’ support of Small Business Saturday, and their Shop Small map as part of its annual campaign. We are quite well known in our local community, but tourists have no idea about us, so having American Express put us on the map really makes a difference.”
Visit Baboo Gelato online here and click here to find details of their kiosks in Lyme Regis, West Bay, Weymouth, Morcombelake and Swanage. Click here to find out more about the American Express Shop Small campaign.


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