Farm-based food venture adds innovative meal kits for home cooks

Interview 4-3-21 SM Farm

Moo to You, the innovative fresh food delivery service established at the start of the first coronavirus lockdown by Chris Wilson when his hugely successful Streamvale Open Farm was shuttered by lockdown rules, has now introduced new home cookery kits with locally sourced ingredients and an easy step-by-step recipe guide.

Chris is the open farm’s manager.

He’s just launched ‘Meals by Moo’ – quality meal kits created after extensive customer research showed local people were increasingly keen on convenient recipe ideas to cook at home since lockdown restrictions have shut many restaurants, cafes and hotels across Northern Ireland.

The initiative is similar to Hello Fresh which, along with other UK home delivery companies, currently supplies more than 5,000 meal kits to households in Northern Ireland.

Moo to You is hoping to tap into this market by offering a local delivery service, using local produce from local suppliers.

Chris, along with business development manager Stephen Lynn, a former Flybe pilot who lost his job before the first lockdown, are confident in the success of the new service after he saw the success of Moo to You over the past 12 months.

He said: “Our Moo to You delivery service has gone from strength to strength and, based on our customer feedback and requests for a local version of convenient meal kits, we felt it was time to introduce Meals by Moo.

“What makes them so popular, we believe, is our dependence on fresh ingredients that are locally sourced from quality Northern Irish producers.

“This uses minimal packaging and reduces food miles as our deliveries are made by our team of drivers and not couriered by air from Great Britain.

“Not only is this much better for the environment but it also means we can deliver at a very competitive price,” Chris says.

“Meals by Moo also offers convenience and flexibility. We do not employ a subscription service like other home food delivery companies, meaning customers can order what they want, when they want and it will be delivered to their doorstep.

“Our hope is that the simple to follow meal kit instructions will help retain and enhance and expand our loyal customer base,” he adds.

Examples of Meals by Moo meal kits include Thai Green Curry and Garlic and Herb Chicken.

Moo to You employs 10 staff and operates from its hub at Streamvale Farm in Dundonald. Its fleet of vans deliver to households across Northern Ireland.

Moo to You, a spin out of Streamvale Open Farm at Ballyhanwood, Newtownards, in County Down, also delivers fresh fruit and vegetable boxes to thousands of homes across Northern Ireland.

The unique Moo to You service was developed shortly after the first coronavirus pandemic lockdown in April last year. The open farm is part of a much larger dairy farm.

Chris and wife Helen came up with the farm-to-door delivery service as a response to the pandemic threat to the business and its employees.

The lockdown led Chris initially to furlough 10 employees. The success of the initiative enabled him to reinstate many posts and create jobs.

The recruits include three pilots laid off because of the collapse of air travel and the grounding of hundreds of passenger jets in the UK and Ireland.

The funky Moo to You branded venture, which began delivering dairy products, subsequently expanded its fresh product home delivery service to include more than 100 locally sourced items such as artisan breads and baked treats, vegetables and fruit, eggs, beef and bacon, fish and fresh Streamvale ice cream from the farm to homes throughout Northern Ireland.

It’s the only home delivered service covering the entire Province.

Chris continues: “I had seen a Sky News report about a shortage of milkmen during the pandemic.

“I then spoke to Dale Farm and they were very keen to support us and to supply additional products such as butter, cheese and yoghurt for our delivery service.

“We were completely surprised by the flood of calls from people who were either self-isolating or fearful about having to go out to shop because of the virus and the likelihood of long queues at supermarkets.

“Many people were also worried about food shortages in supermarkets because of panic buying,” he explains.

The Open Farm had vast experience in providing fresh food from local suppliers from its successful café on the farm, which had also been shuttered due to the lockdown.

Customers can also order the Moo Cool Box, which can be left out on delivery day for restocking by the driver.

The entrepreneurial business started with one van and now has five refrigerated vehicles on the road delivering through a network of routes to hundreds of homes throughout Northern Ireland.

Seven new jobs have also been created. Customers now order from a new online site for speedy delivery.

Chris aims to continue the delivery service beyond the pandemic.

“We’ve built up an immensely loyal customer base who are able to select food and drink from our range of upwards of 110 products,” he continues.

“They are now able to order prepared meals for cooking at home,” he adds.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here