Smart and Hearty growth from Kestrel Foods

Kestrel Foods, a producer of a premium range of dried fruit and nut snacks under the successful Forest Feast and Acti-Snack brands, is in line to reach sales of £20 million by 2020 as part of an innovation-led development strategy.

The family-run business, which is based in Craigavon, County Armagh, exports to 35 countries and has just invested £2 million in a new factory and industry-leading coating machine, specifically designed for the coating of dried fruit and nuts, to facilitate new product development and anticipated increases in production levels.

Managing director Michael Hall said the success of the business, which marked its 21st anniversary this year, was down to the culture of innovation, creativity and speed to market underpinned by the quality of its ingredients achieved through strong relationships with suppliers and growers worldwide.

“This hands-on experience of the different characteristics of nuts, fruit and seeds from various, often vastly dissimilar, growing regions ensures that the final consumer product is always second to none.

“Combining these ingredients in our own innovative and creative way allows us to consistently excite with new on trend snack products that catch the interest of our consumers.”

This focus on innovation is indicated by the success of its Smart and Hearty range of naturally sweet and ready to eat snack-sized dried fruits such as mango, apricot, banana, pineapple, goji berries, cherries and dates.

The company has also invested in new marketing collateral, including a new website.

The announcement came as the business, founded by husband and wife Michael and Lorraine Hall 21 years ago, revealed sales had risen from £14.2 million to a record £16.6 million for the 12 months to April.

Employment levels during the same period grew from 72 to 89, including the creation of key roles of general manager and R&D manager.

Kestrel Foods’ financial controller Lorraine McAfee said the £2 million investment would help reinforce the development of the company’s Forest Feast and Acti-Snack brands locally, nationally and internationally, adding that the firm is well placed on its journey towards achieving £20 million sales by 2020.

The company experienced growth, particularly in Great Britain, during the year in foodservice.

Its award-winning portfolio comprises more than 160 unique flavour combinations and exports to countries including Hong Kong, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, America and the Middle East.

Kestrel Foods’ customer base includes retail, foodservice, e-commerce and travel retail as well as supplying retailer private label.

In recent years Kestrel Foods has won a number of high profile accolades including Ulster Grocer best new product launch, Viscount Awards best SME and Gold Standard Deloitte Best Managed Companies.

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