Two small-scale businesses were given a life-changing contract after their products were chosen to launch in a budget supermarket from today (November 25) - a first for the TV reality show Aldi’s Next Big Thing, as judges couldn’t decide on just one winner for its treats week in the final episode of the series.
In what has been described as a “nerve-wracking and unexpected moment”, judge Julie Ashfield awarded Howard Kinder, 61 and his son, Harry, 26 from Malton Brewery, as well as Mona Shah and her husband Shaz from Harry Specters chocolate the contract of a lifetime to supply the retailer.
Howard and Harry’s Yorkshire Pudding Beer (500ml), which is sold at £1.49, was the first to be announced as the winner with their quirky take on a popular tipple after demonstrating their ability to scale up impressed Julie. However, Julie then announced: “It was so difficult to choose between both of you and in the spirit of treat week, we thought we’d treat our customers and have two winners.”
The decision means Harry Specters Chocolate Bars will also be on shelves nationwide from today for £2.49 (100g). The bars, which are available in three different flavours: Milk Sea Salt Caramel, Milk Peanut Butter and Dark Orange, are all made at Harry Specters headquarters in Ely Cambridgeshire by its workforce of autistic people.
Speaking about how the business began with a desire to do something for their son, Ash, Mona Shah of Harry Specters said: “We wanted to do something not just for him but others like him. We looked up some statistics and found 85% of autistic people are unemployed and 61% of them are desperate to work.”
This was just one of the stories featured last night in Aldi’s Next Big Thing, which is hosted by Anita Rani, of Countryfile and BBC Radio 4 and Chris Bavin of Britain’s Best Home Cook and Eat Well for Less. The show sees hopeful suppliers compete for a space on Aldi’s shelves, before Aldi’s Julie Ashfield decides on the winner.
Also competing in Thursday night’s (November 24) episode, which focused on the treats category, was a unique smoked rum, a quirky twist on Empire Biscuits, premium ice cream made on a Cheshire dairy farm and a chocolate bar stuffed with cheese and onion crisps.
Julie, who is also the Managing Director of Buying at Aldi UK, said: “Choosing between beer and chocolate was just too tough. The love and innovation that has gone into their products is just outstanding.
“They are both fantastic products and it just felt right to make both winners. Moments like this just really make me love my job. You could see how much it meant to both of them. And I’m confident our shoppers are going to enjoy these fantastic treats.”
Shaz Shah of Harry Specters said: “Social impact wise, it’s going to be massive. When we told our team of autistic workers that we were going to be supplying Aldi it just filled them with confidence. It was truly amazing.”
Howard Kinder of Malton Brewery said: “We were absolutely elated – and really happy that we got to share the victory with Harry Specters. For me, I’m not just happy that we’ve won, but that I get to continue working with my son.”
Both Malton Brewery’s Yorkshire Pudding Beer and Harry Specters chocolate bars are on shelves in Aldi stores nationwide now. The Greek Farmer’s British Charcuterie Platter (a winner from a previous episode) has also been made available.