Dr Trouble

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Dr Trouble from Zimbabwe awarded twice at the 2021 Condiment and Sauce Awards


Dr Trouble from Zimbabwe entered the Condiment and Sauce Awards and walked away with two awards. We asked the farmer and managing director of Dr Trouble, Robert Fletcher, a few questions about his success. He farms in Northern Zimbabwe, in the foothills of the Zambezi Escarpment.

Please tell us when your company was founded and some of its history?

 My great-grandfather was a Scottish surveyor who charted the first maps of Zimbabwe between 1896 and 1905. He would spend months alone in the bush, with his horse and theodolite, surviving off the land with meagre provisions.

He kept a diary of his travels and experiences. 25-years ago, my late father and I were reading the diaries. In the back of one diary, we found a recipe for a lemon and chilli sauce. We decided for fun to make some and continued to do so for 15 years, each year using the lemons and chilli from our garden on the farm.

After my father passed, and with much encouragement from friends who tried the sauce, I decided to produce 100 bottles and sell them in the city at Christmas. A month after, I received a phone call from Los Angeles from an American who happened to taste the sauce while visiting Zimbabwe and wanted to import. We realised that we perhaps had something unique, and we began to invest in the idea.

What are some of the unique features of your company?

 The unique thing about our company is, perhaps, that we are so isolated and off the grid. We have built a state-of-the-art EU standard commercial kitchen in the middle of the bush. No neighbours, no pollution and noise. We are the most isolated EU standard facility in the world.

What do you think are some of the unique products you have? 

Our flagship recipe, Oak Smoked, and the hotter Lemon Chilli are unique products. It is the only pure lemon juice, zero vinegar sauces on the market. It takes 100 days to make a bottle as we sun-cure our infusion in glass flagons outdoors. It is an artisanal process, with a seasonal vintage depending on the climate and rainfall that year. We will only ever make a maximum of 250 000 bottles a year of these two flavours. If we want to increase production, we will lose the unique 125-year-old process.

Our first new product is our BBQ Royale. I took a classic Kansas City style BBQ sauce and added the spices most used in biltong. Biltong spices give an African take on the famous American BBQ. There are two versions, one is mild, and one is very hot, utilising different chillies for the recipes.

What are some of the unique features of your manufacturing process and your manufacturing philosophy?

 Our recipe is 125 years old, and it’s taken 15 years to grow the capacity without changing the age-old methods. Keeping true to the original recipe and keeping consistency in quality is daily and a never-ending art. Quality ingredients make us different. We harvest our lemons from the surrounding communal lands, where every village has a few lemon trees, which gives us a unique organic juice. We grow the chillies ourselves, right next to where we make our sauce. We test our spices rigorously. Every single chilli is inspected by hand and selected for quality. We’ve chosen to cap our production at 250 000 bottles a year. We’re not trying to be Nandos, and we’re quite happy with that.

What do you think is your distinct advantage or reason for your success?

 Flavour, consistency, and attention to detail - is the key to our success.

What is the consumer demographic of your products, and what feedback are you getting?

 We’ve had great feedback. Our first export market was the UK. Our first container of stock arrived, and within three months, we were the Number 1 bestseller on Amazon UK in our category. We’ve remained in the top 50 ever since. The fact that we are not trying to be the hottest sauce in the world is why we appeal to such a wide demographic. My philosophy is that a sauce should complement the food and not destroy the palate.

Where does your company fit on the global stage?

 We have made our niche, our product is so different from all others and our flavour is unique. We are a luxury product, and our price reflects that. We now export 55 percent of our production.

In which countries can your products be found?

 Our products are in the UK, Ireland, Germany, Austria, Spain, Holland, France, Sweden, Denmark, Singapore, South Africa, the UAE, and the USA.

Do you perhaps have some innovations in the pipeline?

We have plans at the moment for a perinaise (Troublenaise) as well as BBQ rubs.

Contact person: Robert Fletcher

Email address: troublesauce@gmail.com

Contact number: +263772245792

Website address: https://drtroublesauce.co.uk/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/troublesauce/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/drtroublesauce