Former Wigan Warriors prop ventures into food business

Former Warriors prop Ben Flower has taken a bite into the food industry - by setting up a Wigan business producing his favourite meat snack.

Cotton and Coal produces biltong, a snack of dried, cured meat – usually beef – which originates from Southern Africa.

Flower, who left Wigan two years ago as a three-time Grand Final winner, founded the company with butcher Charlie Edwards and it’s already proving to be a success among current Super League players.

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The 35-year-old, who now lives back in native Wales, said: “I used to buy biltong years ago for myself as a protein snack but the company I bought it from closed, so I decided to make it myself at home.

Ben Flower during his trophy-laden Wigan career

“I then met Charlie who was a local butcher and we just got to know each other as he is a big Wigan fan himself.

“Just before lockdown we were talking about setting up a biltong place, but covid then hit and put it on the back-burner for two and a half years until we found an opportunity to get running.”

Their first shop opened up on Chapel Lane towards the end of last year and among the customers are current players of the Warriors - a club Cotton and Coal aim to partner with.

Flower said: “We’ve spoken to Wigan already and we've got something in the pipeline about us attending match days and being there in the fan zone before the game.

Some of the food on offer at Ben Flower's new venture

“Hopefully I can get behind my stall and see the people that used to cheer me on when I played.”

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As for the inspiration behind the company name, Flower revealed: “Wigan is a big cotton place and Wales is a big coal place so we kind of brought it together.

“Even though it doesn't relate to biltong it was a nice name for both of our backgrounds especially because we use local produce as well.”

Cotton and Coal produces a range of varieties and even party flavours, such as barbeque infused with Jack Daniels whiskey.

Some of the food on offer at Ben Flower's new venture
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Flower said that his favourite flavour is the Dragon Fire, which nods to the former Welsh international’s homeland.

Co-founder Edwards said: “The Dragon Fire is our bestseller.

"We wanted a flavour to represent Ben with his Welsh background and so that’s where the dragon comes into it.

“Its flavour is a hot chilli reaper cut very thinly and especially with this winter weather, it warms you up.

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Some of the food on offer at Ben Flower's new venture

“We’re now creating a dragon fire acid which you can sprinkle onto other foods like pizza and pasta.”

The company can be found online at cottoncoal.co.uk, via Instagram @cottonandcoalltd and at 152 Chapel Lane, Wigan.

Some of the food on offer at Ben Flower's new venture