Vegetable producer William Gilpin, managing director of Gilfresh Produce, based in Loughgall, County Armagh, has seen a decision to develop an innovative range of prepared vegetables for convenience prove outstandingly successful with families and individual consumers here and in the Republic of Ireland.
The prepared vegetable range was a response to market research by the company, now among Ireland’s biggest growers and processors of a wide variety of locally grown vegetables, that found an increasing demand from consumers for such healthy foods.
The success of its focus on prepared vegetables has also led to Gilfresh being named as a finalist in the prestigious 2022 Irish Quality Food and Drink Awards, which will take place in Dublin soon.
The coveted awards seek to recognise and celebrate the best of retail, wholesale and foodservice food and drink products available in Ireland.
Gilfresh is named in the Fresh Produce – Vegetables category for its unique Fajita Kit, a mix which contains onions, peppers and a spicy seasoning sachet and offers a tasty, convenient and healthy meal solution for consumers wishing to cook Mexican dishes at home.
William explains: “This is an immensely versatile and very convenient product which, once cooked, can be enjoyed in a number of ways, including in a wrap for a healthy lunch, with rice for a filling and tasty dinner or equally on its own as a side to a main meal.
“The seasoning sachet allows consumers to add flavour to their meal according to their own desired taste, which means all the family can enjoy,” he adds.
After seeing the increasing demand for locally sourced, fresh food, Gilfresh invested substantially in the production facilities at its Loughgall site, which has enabled the company to expand capacity to develop and strengthen its range of prepared own brand products, especially for health conscious consumers.
As a result of this initiative and an extensive marketing drive by the company, Gilfresh Prepared Veg lines are now sold by leading retailers across the island of Ireland, including Asda, Aldi-Ireland, Dunnes Stores, Eurospar, Spar, Vivo Essentials, Vivo Extra, Mace, Centra and Supervalu. Tesco Ireland will be joining the list soon.
The healthy products are also influenced by the company’s passion for the preservation of the local environment and a long-standing commitment to sustainability.
William continues: “We are delighted that our new range of Gilfresh Prepared Veg has come to market. We work very hard here at Gilfresh to ensure sustainability is at the centre of everything that we do. This includes sourcing locally where we can and utilising waste from the factory to produce our own green energy on site.
“So, we are proud to be able to bring this fantastic new range to the market to allow consumers to enjoy a sustainable, convenient, healthy and tasty purchase from a local company.”
Gilfresh has grown into an influential producer of fresh vegetables on the island of Ireland from small beginnings, which saw founder Thomas Gilpin, William’s father, start his career growing vegetables on a four-acre field at his family home, supplying a small customer base.
Thomas’ first taste of supplying retailers came in the late 1980s when Gilfresh Produce started to supply Stewart’s Supermarkets, then the biggest food retailer in Northern Ireland.
Gilfresh has continued to grow since then, and to expand its customer base, meeting demand for fresh, quality, locally grown vegetables.
The progressive family business has now firmly established itself as one of the country’s leading vegetable providers, dedicated to the growing and sourcing of the highest quality produce to retail and food manufacturing customers throughout the whole island of Ireland.
William continues: “The launch of our new and improved range of Gilfresh prepared vegetables further strengthens our position and gives us a very strong base for further growth.
He leads a team of around 140 people based at the company’s Loughgall headquarters.
The current site boasts two state-of-the-art pack houses, cold storage and moisture facilities as well as a vegetable preparation facility which was first installed in 2013.
There is also an anaerobic digester plant and a wind turbine on site that enables the company to generate green energy to power the factory and other operations.
The new and improved Gilfresh range includes a mix of core vegetable mixes such as carrot and turnip, carrot batons, carrot, cauliflower and broccoli, sliced carrots, sliced leeks, soup vegetables and shredded cabbage, as well as brand new additions to the range with the vegetable stir-fry, oriental stir-fry, vegetable spice bag and vegetable fajita mix.
The company’s blend of innovation and tradition in products means the range is perfectly pitched to cater for a wide variety of consumers who are seeking convenient and healthy meal solutions, William explains.
“In addition, the new Gilfresh range of prepared veg also gives consumers the opportunity to purchase a locally produced product, something which is so important to today’s consumer.
“In fact, many of the vegetables which are supplied in the new range are grown locally on the company’s own farm, Gilpin Farms,” he continues.
Caroline Dalzell, head of sales and marketing, added: “We are really excited that after months of market research and product development our new range is now in production and on supermarket shelves.
“We do hope that customers will enjoy the new range and we look forward to expanding it further in the coming months.”
Gilpin Farms, which operates under the expert guidance of Richard Gilpin, head of farm operations and William’s cousin, grows around 500 acres of vegetables, including carrots, parsnips, swede, leeks, savoy cabbage, Brussel sprouts, sweetheart cabbage, spring onions, kale, broccoli, celery and even pumpkins.
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