Northern Ireland food producers feature in an initiative by Lidl to encourage more people here to enjoy a spot of al fresco dining this summer.
Available in all 41 stores across the region, Lidl Northern Ireland’s picnic basket fillers start at less than £1 with delicious new summer salads, cold pressed juices and plenty of other tasty must-try treats from enterprising food firms here.
Lidl is becoming a substantial customer for Northern Ireland food and drink products, including supplies from smaller firms.
Lidl bought more £300 million worth of goods from Northern Ireland suppliers in 2018.
Research by Oxford Economics found that the German supermarket chain has been growing at a rate of 7.5 per cent per year since 2008, four times the retail average here.
The study was commissioned to mark Lidl’s 20 years in Northern Ireland.
According to the study, Lidl is worth £179 million a year to the Northern Ireland economy, employing 880 people directly and 3,500 through the supply chain. It plans to grow to 50 stores in the near future.
The overwhelming majority of the £290 million of local produce was exported to stores outside the region, helping to expose local businesses to new markets and support growth within the important agri-food sector.
Approximately £200 million of local produce was exported to Great Britain, while an additional £48 million was exported to the Republic of Ireland.
Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon, along with Mid Ulster, Mid and East Antrim, and Fermanagh and Omagh enjoyed the bulk of Lidl’s procurement spend, reflecting their concentration of agri-food businesses.
Lidl Northern Ireland has also doubled its workforce over the past decade.
Its new range of delicious and wholesome salads is produced locally by Willowbrook Foods, a farm based business located near Killinchy on the shores of picturesque Strangford Lough.
Willowbrook is owned and run by farmer John McLean, who has created one of the biggest producers of bagged salads on the island of Ireland. Willowbrook’s salads feature in Lidl’s Meadow Fresh brand.
The Meadow Fresh range of salad bags includes a luxurious Caesar salad, a crisp iceberg salad, a filling bistro salad or a family salad bowl served alongside the Meadow Fresh potato salad or mini coleslaw/potato salad pot.
New for 2021 is the Meadow Fresh grain salad pots with miso or mint pomegranate dressing for a cooling snack to accompany any picnic.
Lidl Northern Ireland has an extensive selection of convenient ready-to-serve options that are perfect for outdoor dining, including lighter options such as the Deluxe rice and quinoa or wheatberry and chickpea nutri salads.
Pizza lovers can savour the distinctive taste of Italy at home with Fermanagh-based Crust and Crumb’s extensive range.
The family-owned manufacturer has 20 varieties of pizza listed by Lidl in rich flavours, including the Deluxe range sourdough pizza available in Spicy Italian Schiacciata Salami, Chargrilled Vegetable and Pesto and Spicy Chicken Arrabbiata.
In addition to its original plant at Derrylin in Fermanagh, Crust and Crumb has a recently established production facility at Derryconnell in County Cavan.
The company is now Ireland’s largest manufacturer of ambient, chilled and frozen commercial and gluten free dough-based products.
In addition, it suppliers 10 of the largest UK supermarkets, specialising in producing own-label pizza bases, topped pizza, flatbreads and tortillas.
For a picnic with a bit more bite, meat lovers can fire up the BBQ and get sizzling with Lidl Northern Ireland’s marinated pork belly strips, BBQ meaty pork ribs or BBQ pork rib rack, all produced by Karro Foods in Cookstown, County Tyrone.
A less meaty feast is provided by Lidl Northern Ireland’s new reduced meat Inisvale beef koftas with garlic and herb sauce from Linden Foods in Dungannon, County Tyrone, part of ABP, the perfect flexitarian solution for those looking to reduce their meat intake without missing out on any summer BBQ thrills.
Offering a fabulously flavoursome taste, these koftas are made with a blend of 60 per cent beef and 40 per cent non-beef ingredients.
With warmer weather on the horizon, you can enjoy some refreshing and fruity flavours with Lidl Northern Ireland’s range that includes the new and convenient Meadow Farm Fresh Tropical Fruit Mix of Melon Fruit Mix pots, produced locally in Northern Ireland.
One of the major ways in which Lidl Northern Ireland supports local food producers is through its Kick Start Supplier Development Programme.
Now in its fourth year, Lidl Northern Ireland’s ‘Kick Start’ Supplier Development helps small and medium-sized suppliers to grow their brand and build their supply network.
Since its inception, the programme has showcased almost 40 home-produced products which have gone on sale in 208 stores across the island of Ireland. These have included Wee ChoCo; Refuge Chocolate; Glenn’s Butchers; Tom & Ollie; The Little Meat Co; Copeland Gin, Erne Larder; Hillstown Brewery; Noisy Snacks; and Oh So Lean. Lidl Northern Ireland has more than 300,000 weekly customers across 41 stores throughout the region and successfully recruited more shoppers than any other supermarket retailer in 2020.
Over three quarters of the Northern Ireland population visited a Lidl store in 2020.