A bite of biscuit history
DOCUMENTARY LIFTS THE LID ON THE PLADIS MCVITIE FACTORY
A BBC programme aired last week revealed how the chocolate digestive and some of the UK’s other favourite treats are made.
The documentary explored Europe’s largest biscuit factory, based in west London, which churns out 80 million biscuits every day, chief among which is the universally adored chocolate digestive.
Greg Wallace received a tour of the Pladis McVitie’s factory in Waxlow Road from Laurence Kothari, who has worked at the factory for nearly 38 years to see how the biscuits are made.
Production starts with the arrival of 28 tonnes of flour, rolled and turned into the biscuit with a layer of chocolate applied to the bottom.
The factory, which opened in 1902, employs around 580 people and produces 2,500 tonnes of biscuits every single week.
The Harlesden factory makes 22 different varieties in total including Hobnobs, Rich Tea bisuits and savoury snacks like Mini Cheddars.
Chocolate digestives have been baked at the site since 1925 with 13 million of the biscuit made every day. Mr Kothari said: “I was only meant to be here for six months but it was such a special place to work that here I am 38 years later. I think that’s down to the great people who I work with.
“There is no such thing as an average day, because every day is different. I never know what I’m going to get, which is what makes the job challenging, exciting and fun.
“The most interesting part being able to bring people’s ideas to life. If someone has an idea for a improving our production, we’ll find an engineering solution and make it happen.”
The show was aired on BBC Two on Tuesday August 1 and is still available to watch on iPlayer.
When asked about the debate over whether the humble digestive really needs chocolate adornment, Mr Kothari said: “There’s something special about a plain McVitie’s Digestive, but adding chocolate is never a bad idea.”
McVitie’s is owned by Pladis, an international company which is headquartered in Uxbridge. Previously on the show, Greg Wal- lace and co-presenter Cherry Healey have previously delved into the fac- tories that make cornflakes, baked beans and bread.
Greg Wallace and Cherry Healey at the Pladis McVitie’s factory