15th August 2023

Get to know Reid’s of Caithness – The baking family bringing a taste of Caithness to an international market!

From delicious all-butter shortbread boarding first-class rail services and jetting off on Atlantic flights, to rainbow rows of their signature tartan tins displayed inside premium malls and delicatessens from Asia and to Australia; Reid’s of Caithness is delivering a taste of Caithness to a truly international market.

The family-run business was established by Donald and Joyce Reid in 1966, using recipes passed down through the generations. 57 years later, the business has grown in scale to employ over 50 people and produces hundreds of thousands of biscuits, cakes and oatcakes every year from their 20,000 sq. ft. state-of-the-art bakery, office and warehouse facility in Thurso.

Today, the bakery is managed by the second generation of the family, with Gary and his wife Tracy leading the way for this award-winning business, most recently recognised Scottish Wholesale Baker of the Year 2023. An accolade which demonstrates not only an exemplary product, but also praise for their business operation, level of customer service, ambition, and professionalism.

Reid’s are passionate about innovation, and although the bakery has significantly developed its production capacity and product line since its founding days, the focus on high-quality ingredients and producing well-made product remains at the heart of the business.

The business also remains committed to its investment in its people. In the last 10 years, Reid’s have put over 35 team members through apprenticeships in production & processing, bakery skills, food & drink operations, distribution, and food manufacturing excellence and take an active role in developing their skills, an attribute reflected in every aspect of their business.

Tracy and Gary Reid, outside the family owned bakery in Thurso.

What opportunities are ahead?  

“We’re continuing to invest in the business, our ambition is for larger oven capacity and faster wrapping stations and we’re looking at automating our biscuit-forming line.

“But it’s not about replacing people with machines, we’ll always need skilled staff, and eventually some of them may be engineers to work alongside robots, or ‘co-bots’ as they’re sometimes called.”

What are the biggest challenges facing your business?

“We use quality local ingredients and employ around 50 people locally. We are committed to their personal training and development and believe that we have a responsibility to make sure our team is well skilled.

However, because we can’t compare with the wages offered here by the nuclear industry or the distillers, we often struggle to attract people and hang onto our workforce. As a bakery, our people are crucial to our operations.

Current consumer behavior and attitudes are also making it increasingly hard to sustain a profit from our type of food production, and like all in the food manufacturing sector, inflation, volatile ingredients pricing and cost-of-living crisis are also having a huge impact on our business – but we believe the quality of our award-winning products shine through.”

What are your proudest moments?

“Winning Wholesale Baker of the Year for the third year was fantastic, and a great boost and credit to our whole team.

Of course, we are proud of all of our awards and achievements, but our ability to react during Covid and support the supply chain with our breads both locally and nationally, into major supermarkets is something we are especially proud of.

Our business is SALSA accredited, meaning we could be audited at any point. It’s extremely important to our business and means our customers and retailers know our products adhere to the strictest health and safety food regulations. If you are a consumer and see a Reid’s product on the shelves, you know it has that guarantee.”

Where is the furthest place away from Thurso that you can buy a Reid’s Biscuit?

“We are exporting our award-winning shortbread and biscuits to over 30 countries, including Costa Rica, South Africa, Iceland, Australia, Japan, South Korea and Saudi Arabia.

We love hearing from our customers and have a huge amount of support from our locals here in Caithness. We often get people sending us pictures of our products when they are travelling – we’ve even had images from as far away as New Zealand”


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E: info@caithnesschamber.com
T: 01847 890076