Coronavirus crisis: Abigail delivers flour power with Oakham milling business

  Posted: 22.05.20 at 15:42 by The Editor

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A flour making operation has launched in Oakham- and it’s all due to a flour shortage caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Abigail McCartney is the managing director of Livelab, which has operated for 13 years and is one of the largest grain and flour labs in the UK testing around 25000 samples of grain every summer, and around 5000 samples of flours and dough for customers nationally.

“When the lockdown started, the grain samples soon stopped arriving as buyers were not allowed out to take samples. After a week or so, we noticed that there was a shortage of flour in the shops and so with some milling wheat from a local farm we started making flour for a few local bakers and WI.

“Between ourselves and a few friends we thought that The Flour Lab was a promising brand name and that we had to make sure that not only could the business carry on, but that people’s jobs were going to be safe.”

Abigail says the lab is very familiar with the blends of wheat used to make flour and her flour mills can make many kinds of flour.

“The great thing is, that not only is it helping to keep the business going, it’s providing something that people really want at the moment, and it’s something that I really enjoy doing as there aren’t many more wholesome pastimes than milling.


“Because of the equipment that we have, it is not cost effective for us to make white flour at the moment, and so we’re offering a range of strong wholemeal breadmaking flours, granary and malty blends for bread, and also plain and self-raising flours.

“I know that we all love a bit of white though, and so we have ordered a dedicated mill to produce white in a much easier way than we can at the moment.”

As part of the marketing of her new venture, Abigail has launched a website where people can read more about the intricacies of wheat and flour and the types of tests that she does and the flours she makes.

The Flour Lab is also active on social media. Facebook: @FlourLab and Instagram: @the_flour_lab.

Abigail continued: “As a small business we’ve always been able to react quickly to market changes, but we genuinely can’t move fast enough at the moment, as we’ve had hundreds of orders in the first short period of offering flour for sale not just locally, but we have been shipping flour to Scotland, Northern Ireland and all over the UK.


“We have some great interest from local shops, markets, bakers and outlets in London too as well as maintaining a commitment to food banks with regular donations.

“We have really struggled to keep up with demand and so some products do come out of stock for a short time but do check back as we’re taking in batches of grain regularly and we never sell out for long because we’re absolutely killing ourselves here trying to make sure that jobs aren’t at risk and we can keep up with demand.”

She concluded: “Who knows, in a few months’ time maybe something positive will come from all this pain and disruption that Covid-19 has brought us all and there’ll be a brand new flour milling business in Oakham.”

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