Fresh foods producer Willowbrook Foods has invested £700,000 in developing a state-of-the-art production facility in Newtownards, County Down, with the aim of doubling its production capacity of cooked, mashed and prepared vegetable products.
Willowbrook Foods has developed the site to enhance and increase its production capability, to facilitate new product development and support its ambitious growth plans across Ireland and Great Britain.
The site, owned by Willowbrook for several years, has been completely modernised to incorporate blast chillers, steam boilers, floored drainage systems and technology that will significantly boost efficiency and quality at production level.
Through the new plant, the company seeks to more than double the output of its range of 20+ cooked vegetable products from 120 tonnes to 250 tonnes weekly.
All production of Willowbrook’s cooked products has been moved to Newtownards from its existing Killinchy base, which remains the site of the company’s main offices, its Food Innovation Centre and production plant for salad and bagged continental lettuce products. Willowbrook is exploring plans to redevelop its Killinchy site for further product innovation in the near future.
Speaking about the development, Willowbrook Foods Managing Director John McCann, MBE, said: “The new production facility in Newtownards marks a new chapter for the company.
“It will allow us to focus on product innovation and maximising growth opportunities in the retail, foodservice and food manufacturing sectors across the UK and Ireland.
“Our prepared mashed vegetable products – potato, carrots, turnips, swede and parsnips, butternut squash and sweet potato – will be key during the year ahead, particularly within the foodservice and catering sectors.
“Willowbrook’s core priority is developing quality convenience projects which reflect trends in modern consumer eating habits. We have spent a lot of time fine-tuning a high-quality product which has been proving extremely popular with customers over the past 12 months and this continued growth has helped facilitate our recent reinvestment.
“By sourcing the very best technology from across the globe, we are now well placed to offer tailored solutions for our various customer bases – from retailers to ready meal companies.”
All production staff have moved from Willowbrook’s Killinchy base to the Newtownards site and a number of new employees are being recruited to bolster the production team.
Willowbrook, which supplies prepared vegetables, bagged salads, salad bowls and meal accompaniments, recently secured €2.5m additional business in the Republic of Ireland for 2018 and is rolling out a targeted growth strategy, including the appointment of dedicated sales staff for Scotland, England and Ireland.