Owners of farm shops and deli outlets in Great Britain, a fast growing food sector, will have an opportunity to experience some of the best produce from Northern Ireland suppliers at a major trade show in Birmingham next month.
Six local enterprises, mostly artisan and smaller food producers, will be bidding for business at the big Farm Shop and Deli and other associated events in the National Exhibition Centre (NEC).
Upwards of 25,000 buyers and other trade professionals are projected to attend the three-day event, the most important in the sector, which also attracts visitors from the Republic of Ireland and other parts of Europe.
The group of local companies is taking part on a stand arranged by Invest NI and will be among over 1,000 participants showing a diverse range of existing and new food and soft drinks in a market reported as being worth around £3 billion last year to Northern Ireland.
It’s a measure of the importance of the market in Great Britain when set with the total annual sales of local food and drink of over £5 billion. This means that over half of our food and drink sales are to Britain.
On show from Northern Ireland will be extruded snacks, including popcorn, multi-award-winning Greek-style, natural and fruit yoghurts, low sugar chocolate, balsamic vinegars, potato crisps and free-range cured meats which have won national awards for quality and taste.
Bangor’s multi-award-winning Clandeboye Estate Yoghurt is bidding to secure a business breakthrough in the hugely significant food market in Britain. Britain is the biggest purchaser of Northern Ireland food and drink.
The County Down food business, based on the historic Clandeboye Estate and the only substantial producer of yoghurt here, is seeking to build on approaches in Britain for its natural and fruit flavoured yoghurts and to harness the substantially increased processing capacity from a recent £2 million investment in a new creamery.
The state-of-the-art plant, according to general manager Bryan Boggs, is set to double yoghurt output in the short-term.
It’s also the only processor on the island of Ireland straining Greek-style yoghurt by hand through cheese cloth.
It sources fresh milk from a 100-strong pedigree dairy herd on the estate’s successful farm.
“We already supply yoghurt to all the leading retailers in Northern Ireland, many in the Republic, especially Aldi, and to hundreds of farm shops, delis and convenience stores such as SuperValu.
“We’ve had approaches from Britain over the years and now have the capacity to develop this interest for the benefit of our farm business as the wider Northern Ireland economy,” he adds.
The Northern Ireland representation at Farm Shop and Deli also includes Burren Balsamics from Richhill; Limavady’s Corndale Farm Charcuterie; Free-ist sugar-free confectionery from Belfast; Glens of Antrim, a producer of potato crisps in Cushendall; Golden Popcorn of Antrim, Northern Ireland’s leading producer of cinema-style popcorn and other snacks such as the award-winning Gourmet Crunch.
Corndale Charcuterie will be launching a spicy Nduja ketchup developed with Craic Foods in Craigavon among its cured meats such as chorizo and fennel salami.
Alastair Crown, Corndale’s founding managing director, says: “The new ketchup is geared to farm shops and delis, making the show an ideal platform to reach these retail outlets across Britain, a key market for which in which we’ve some business for our cured meats.”
Golden Popcorn’s managing director Sean McClinton describes Gourmet Crunch as “an innovative low calorie snack range that’s proving extremely successful on the island of Ireland”.
Based at Antrim, Golden Popcorn has introduced two Gourmet Crunch snacks – Thai Sweet Chill and Cheese and Onion – in 18g bags in multi-packs as part of a strategic focus on developing low calorie snacks.
Each Gourmet Crunch snack bag has just 75 calories.
Sean says Gourmet Crunch is “the outcome of extensive market research for novel snacks perceived as being healthier and in line with the growing trend among consumers towards low sugar snacks, especially for children.”
The company, which employs more than 20 people, was originally established in 1996 to produce bulk popcorn for cinemas and subsequently expanded into retail in 2011. It uses only “the best quality ingredients with high standards of food safety and hygiene”.
Belfast-headquartered Free’ist will be launching a revamped range of no added sugar, vegan-friendly chocolates, according to founding managing director Gerard McAdorey.
The brand, established in 2013, is committed to ethical sourcing that uses only the finest quality ingredients and has been upgraded by the company’s skilled chocolatiers since its initial launch.
The ‘free from’ snack category is projected to grow by 41 per cent over the next five years – driven by dairy alternatives – so Free’ist has introduced a new selection of no-added-sugar, vegan-friendly plant-based bars, made from the finest oat milk to create a creamy, indulgent snack that melts in the mouth.
The companies are among 2,000 exhibitors from across the UK and Ireland.
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