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Over 45 years at the heart of the Northern Ireland food industry



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Over 45 years at the heart of the Northern Ireland food industry



go-ahead for the first export assignment of pork from Northern Ireland to China has been welcomed by industry, with uncertainty around Brexit highlighting the importance of securing new global markets. China is already the UK’s biggest customer for pigmeat outside the EU. While approval was granted by Chinese authorities for exports to begin back in August, with the news estimated to be worth a potential £10m to local pork producers, the final go-ahead was granted by China’s certification agency, CNCA, last month. CNCA has approved Karro Food Group in Cookstown and Cranswick Country Foods in Ballymena for export. “This is an exciting and important development for the pig farming industry in Northern Ireland as the potential for growth in this market is vast and it contributes significantly to achieving carcase balance,” said Deirdre McIvor, chief executive of NI Pork & Bacon Forum.




“The local pig farming industry makes a significant contribution to the agri-sector in Northern Ireland sustaining 400 farming families Deirdre McIvor and 2,000 local jobs. “This Chinese approval is the culmination of years of collective support and work from stakeholders throughout the sector. In particular, I would acknowledge Perpetua McNamee, deputy chief veterinary officer, and her team in DAERA. “Our industry looks forward to developing this new relationship with China, which has the potential to not only secure jobs and employment across Northern Ireland, but also to enhance opportunities across the sector.” Norman Robson, chairman of Ulster




Farmers’ Union Pork and Bacon Committee, said: “We are delighted to have secured this latest market for Northern Ireland pork. This is a significant step Norman Robson and stands to have a large positive impact on the whole of the pork supply chain. “It is a fantastic opportunity for the industry to be able to tap into one of the world’s largest markets. This news bears testament to the high production standards and reputation of Northern Ireland’s pork production. “The Chinese market has the potential to offer significant long-term demands for pork products and should boost returns for processors. Farmers will now look forward to seeing this added value distributed fairly along the supply chain.”









COMMENT Volume 52, Number 11 December 2017 Editor: Alyson Magee E: Tel: 028 9026 4175 Contributors: Michele Shirlow, Brian O’Connor, John Mulgrew, Jason Winstanley Sales Manager: Mark Glover E: Tel: 028 9026 4267 Art Editor: Helen Wright Production Manager: Irene Fitzsimmons Ulster Grocer c/o Independent News & Media Ltd, Belfast Telegraph House 33 Clarendon Road Clarendon Dock Belfast BT1 3BG @ulstergrocer Subscriptions: £27.50 per annum £37.50 per annum (outside UK) Designed & Produced by: Independent News & Media Ltd Tel: 028 9026 4000 Printed by: W&G Baird, Antrim Tel: 028 9446 3911

ABC CIRCULATION: 4,420 YEAR TO JUNE 2017 (6,100-PLUS SINCE JUNE 2017) Independent News & Media Ltd ©2017. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or stransmitted in any form, or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise without the prior permission of Independent News & Media Ltd.




rexit continues to dominate the news channels, alongside Trump’s latest gaffe, and there is little - if anything - positive to emerge from the evolving situation. By the time this edition of the magazine reaches its readers, the UK will no doubt have lurched into its next stand-off situation with the European Commission. The additional £3bn allocated by Chancellor Philip Hammond for Brexit preparations in his Autumn Budget again highlighted the rocketing costs associated with the UK’s withdrawal from the union, and many in favour of the exit must surely be questioning whether we will actually be better off after the divorce. Even more alarmingly, however, the Irish border situation has reached critical mass with the DUP moving beyond its usual stalemate with Sinn Fein to engage in a war of words with the Irish government over the issue. There is no easy solution to the issue; is there ever with Northern Ireland…? Our agri-food industry relies on unfettered two-way trade with the Republic of Ireland and Great Britain, and any barriers in either direction would have a significant impact. It’s not a good situation to be in, and one which is causing considerable anxiety and concern for the entire agri-food chain from farmers and processors to retailers and suppliers of ancillary services. How can companies plan ahead when they don’t know what to plan for? Many companies are setting up offices in the Republic of Ireland as a proactive measure, but have no idea what the implications will be of moving any goods across the border to and from Northern Ireland. Only time will tell. Moving swiftly on to a more positive festive message, with Christmas being all about giving, what better time to applaud the efforts of our local grocery sector in giving back to the community. Every month, we carry the latest news of local charitable efforts and this edition is no different, featuring ViVO’s new partnership raising funds for Age NI to support efforts aimed at making Northern Ireland a more age-friendly place to live.

Some time back, I saw research into the treatment of the elderly by society in which an old man made the comment that he always went to John Lewis (not present in NI) because it was the only store in which he didn’t feel invisible as the staff acknowledged his presence and treated him with respect. Our independent local stores generally excel in the customer service department, knowing and supporting their customers of all ages and demographics but, in bigger stores, the experience can sometimes be an impersonal and lonely one. Retailers should ensure staff are trained in helping and supporting their older shoppers and, don’t forget, they’re often the ones with the higher disposable income these days… Other charitable activity covered in these pages, meanwhile, include the Henderson Group’s Tearfund Change for Life campaign aiding families in the Central African Republic, its dailyDeli range benefitting Marie Curie and Cancer Fund for Children, the Asda Foundation’s Contribution to the Family Caring Centre and M&S Northern Ireland’s award for its cardiac safety and defibrillator campaign launched after the untimely death of a colleague. Ulster Farmers’ Union is aiming to raise £100,000 for Air Ambulance NI through sales of its Centenary Charity Calendar, while over ps10-11, the latest GroceryAid initiatives are covered. Ulster Grocer boasts a long, proud association with GroceryAid, as a charity offering support to the very industry the magazine covers, and would draw your attention to the piece on p11 highlighting a call for more local recipients of its services. Do you know anyone in need of financial help or medical - including mental health – support? In the spirit of Christmas giving, let GroceryAid know. Best wishes to all our readers and advertisers this Christmas and New Year. May your baskets be full.


CO-OP TO TAKE OVER COSTCUTTER SUPPLY AFTER P&H ENTERS ADMINISTRATION T he Co-op is to become the exclusive wholesale supplier to 150 Costcutter and Supershop stores in Northern Ireland, where retailers will be offered the opportunity to become Co-op franchisees, after former Costcutter supplier Palmer & Harvey (P&H) entered administration last month. Agreement reached between The Coop and Costcutter Supermarkets Group will see The Co-op exclusively supply 2,200 UK stores including Costcutter and Supershop and, in GB, Mace, Simply Fresh and kwiksave convenience stores from Spring 2018. All will be offered the opportunity to adopt The Co-op fascia. “With P&H no longer able to supply our stores, we have activated our contingency plans that will see our retailers supported by the Co-op and other suppliers in the run up to our deal with the Co-op,” said Darcy WillsonRymer, CEO of Costcutter Supermarkets Group. Jo Whitfield, chief executive of Co-op Food, said: “We recently reported our 14th consecutive quarter of like-for-like sales growth and this agreement will further strengthen our ability to offer customers great products at great prices. “Whilst our deal with Costcutter will

start formally in Spring 2018, we are looking at practical ways we can support independent retailers during this busy trading period, in light of the news concerning P&H. “It is essential that we maintain a strong independent retail sector and the Co-op is committed to playing its part, along with others in the industry, in ensuring this occurs.” P&H, the UK’s largest delivered wholesaler to the UK convenience market with around 90,000 customers served by 14 regional distribution centres, said it had been hit by challenging trading conditions in recent months with efforts to restructure the business unsuccessful. The P&H Group employed around 3,400 employees, with 2,500 immediate redundancies identified within its head office and branch network including around 30 jobs at its Mallusk depot.



he Henderson Group is expanding its business once again amid plans to buy over five major retail stores from McColl’s. Earlier this year, McColl’s took on the five stores here from Co-op, as part of a deal for 300 across the UK. Two stores in Newtownabbey and one each in Ballymena, Bangor and Tandragee will all be converted to SPAR stores, once the deal is completed. It’s understood all 72 staff across the five stores will transfer to the Henderson Group. It brings Henderson’s store estate to almost 430. “We are delighted to have reached agreement to acquire the five stores and look forward to investing further to drive retail sales and provide a valuable

service to the local community,” said Ron Whitten, chief financial officer, Henderson Group. McColl’s took a financial hit from the Co-op takeover, with profits almost cut in half. The latest expansion from Henderson comes as Nisa Retail members have given the green light to Co-op Group’s £137.5m takeover offer, with over 75% voting in favour of the deal. Nisa has more than 100 shops across Northern Ireland. It helps pave the way for Co-op’s plans to acquire 100% of the convenience store operator, which has around 1,200 shopkeeper members running over 3,200 stores, assuming the deal is cleared by UK authorities.

GROWTH FOR LIDL Northern Ireland’s grocery market has expanded by nearly 2%, with German discounter Lidl enjoying the strongest growth of the supermarkets, latest figures show. The figures show that Tesco, which has around 50 stores here, has the biggest market share at 35.1%. But sales at Sainsbury’s and Asda were also on the up, with the rivals neck-and-neck with a market share of 17.3%. They have 13 and 17 stores respectively. Lidl’s market share was 5.4%, and the company’s sales in Northern Ireland had the strongest growth of all the supermarkets at 6%. It has 38 stores here.

DUNBIA COMPLETES DAWN MEATS DEAL Dawn Meats has agreed a strategic partnership with Dungannon firm Dunbia to establish a majority owned joint venture in the UK comprising the UK operations of both organisations. The partnership and acquisition agreement announced in May 2017, and has been completed, with all relevant regulatory clearances approved. The UK businesses now trade as Dunbia and are managed by former Dunbia Chief Executive Jim Dobson, with Dawn Meats Chief Executive Niall Browne as executive chairman. The partnership also includes a reband and a new logo.

GROCERY COSTS RISE PRE-CHRISTMAS The price of a basket of groceries is creeping up ahead of Christmas with seasonal broccoli and carrots leaping in price compared with this time last year. A basket of 35 popular items cost £85.22 in October, up from £84.90 in the previous month, according to the mySupermarket monthly groceries tracker. Shoppers are now paying 2% more for their groceries than a year ago, with the total basket now £1.94 more expensive than it was in October last year. Onions saw the biggest monthly price increase, up 19% to £1.32 per kilogram. Butter, which has seen a steady price increase of 9% over the year, rose 5% between September and October. 5


RETAIL AND FARMING SECTORS RESPOND TO AUTUMN BUDGET A possible City Deal for Belfast and fuel duty freeze are among measures welcomed in Chancellor Philip Hammond’s Autumn 2017 Budget, unveiled last month, although disappointment has been expressed over its failure to recognise Brexit-related challenges around farming and food. “Retail NI has long championed the need for City Deals for Belfast and Derry and we welcome the Chancellor’s green light of negotiations for a Belfast Deal,” said Glyn Roberts, chief executive of Retail NI. “However, we are disappointed and surprised that a City Deal for Derry was not included and will be raising this with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. “While we welcome the extra £650m extra for the Northern Ireland Executive, it remains extremely frustrating that we have no Government in place to spend these additional funds.

“The decision to once again freeze fuel duty will be helpful to our members with their own transport, and the income tax free allowance increase to £11,850 will hopefully have a small boost on spending. “The Chancellor had a great deal to say on reforming Business Rates; however; many of proposals will simply not apply to Northern Ireland as rating policy is devolved.” Barclay Bell, president of UFU, said: “The farming industry across the UK need to see a real focus on making Brexit a success. Measures to help agriculture invest to take on that challenge must be introduced. The Budget failed to deliver any such incentives.” Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry has, meanwhile, stressed the necessity of restoring the NI Executive to implement a reduced rate for Corporation Tax and a local strategy for Brexit.


BUSINESS RATES REVALUATION ANNOUNCED The Northern Ireland Retail Consortium (NIRC) has reacted positively to the Department for Finance announcement that the next commercial property rates revaluation will take effect in 2020. NIRC has campaigned for more frequent revaluations but says more needs to be done to fix the inherent inequity of the current rates system. Retail NI has also urged lessons should be learned from the previous Revaluation in 2015. “71% of our members saw an increase in their rates bills following the last revaluation in 2015,” said Glyn Roberts, chief executive of Retail NI. “Business rates need radical reform and is the number issue facing our members.”

FOOTFALL DECLINE CONTINUES IN NI Footfall declined further by 6.5% in Northern Ireland in October compared to a 4.3% decline in September, the highest for the UK. This is significantly above the three-month average decrease of 4.3% and 12-month negative rate of 1.3%. High Street, shopping centres and retail parks all saw a sharp decline of 6.5%, while the vacancy rate was 15.2% above the (weighted) national average of 9.3%. “This a somewhat dreary set of results,” said Aodhán Connolly, director of the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium. “The rise in shop vacancies is a cause of growing concern.”

INDUSTRIAL STRATEGY RECOGNISES FOOD PRODUCTION Pictured are, from left, Bronagh Luke, head of Corporate Marketing, Henderson Group; Nadine Campbell, head of Fundraising , Age NI; Kevin O’Hare, ViVO Essentials retailer; and Donal Bryce, regional sales manager, ViVO & ViVO Essentials.


iVO stores have launched a new charity partnership with the leading charity for older people in Northern Ireland, Age NI. Through the partnership, ViVO stores across Northern Ireland hope to raise £20,000 for Age NI in the next year, which will be used to fund vital services and activities aimed at improving the lives of older people and making Northern Ireland a more age-friendly place to live. In addition to the fundraising campaign, the partnership will also see 6

the appointment of a ViVO Ambassador in every store, who will act as a fundraising champion. ViVO currently has 80 stores in Northern Ireland operating under the ViVO and ViVO Essentials brands and employs a dedicated workforce that is passionate about supporting local communities. This new charity partnership will allow retailers and customers alike to make a difference to their older neighbours and friends who are experiencing isolation, poverty or even loneliness.

The Ulster Farmers’ Union says it is encouraged by the inclusion of food production in the UK government’s Industrial Strategy White Paper, which sets out a long-term plan to boost the productivity and earning power of people throughout the UK. “Food and farming in the UK already contributes £112bn to the economy and employs 3.8 million people,” said Ivor Ferguson, deputy president of UFU. “It is an important industry and the White Paper outlines some positive prospects for developing it further. “Going forward, we want to see an industry focused on sustainable productivity, profitability, and innovation.”



nvest NI’s Director of Food and Drink John Hood congratulated Northern Ireland food and drink companies recognised this year for the quality of their produce, at a recent reception in Belfast during BBC Good Food Show. Eighty producers secured 244 Great Taste gold stars for 180 products including Hannan Meats which won the Golden Fork for Northern Ireland, nine businesses secured wins at Irish Quality Food Awards and, in the Blas Na hÉireann, Irish Food Awards 35 companies collected 42 awards, including Best Artisan, Best New Product and Best in Ulster.

Co Armagh: Ernestas Motiejunas, Lindens Bakery T/A Raigedo Duona; Peter McKeever, Long Meadow Cider; Gerard Lennon, Nourish Foods; John Hood, Invest NI; Peter Hannan, Hannan Meats; Barney Desmazery, BBC Good Food Show editor; Susie Hamilton Stubber, Burren Balsamic; and Kelly Adams, White’s Speedicook.

Co Down: Joe Quail, Quails Fine Foods; Will Taylor, Glastry Farm Ice-Cream; Alfie Murray, Alfie Murray Family Butchers; John Hood, Invest NI; Barney Desmazery, BBC Good Food Show Editor; Tracy Hamilton, Mash Direct; Jarlath Watson, The Echlinville Distillery; Fiona Boyd-Armstrong, Rademon Estate Distillery; and Laura Adair, Papas Mineral Company.

Co Londonderry: Vincent Grant, William Grant & Sons; Barney Desmazery, BBC Good Food Show editor; John Hood, Invest NI; and Donna Harkin, William Grant & Sons.

Co Antrim: Steve Lawson, Lacada Brewery; Cathy Chauhan, Lough Neagh Fishermen’s Co-operative Society; Niall Delargy, Glenballyeamon Eggs; Oscar Woolley, Suki Teahouse; John Hood, Invest NI; Barney Desmazery, BBC Good Food Show editor; Jamie Thompson, Thompson Teas; Linda McGibbon, SeaSugar Handmade Confectionery; Sean McClinton, Golden Popcorn; and Alice McIlhagger, Brambleberry Jams.

Co Down: Martin and Eileen Johnston, East Coast Seafoods; Jonny Cuddy, Ispini Charcuterie; Gary McDowell, Deli Lites; William Abernethy, Abernethy Butter; John Hood, Invest NI; Barney Desmazery, BBC Good Food Show Editor; Jolene O’Hare, Mourne Mountains Brewery Ltd; Andrew Rooney, Rooney Fish; Michael Harnett, Duvillaun Fine Foods; and Barry Fitzpatrick, Sauceworks.

Co Fermanagh: Jayne Paget, Erin Grove Preserves; John Hood, Invest NI; Barney Desmazery, BBC Good Food Show editor; and Eileen Hall, Cavanagh Free Range Eggs.

Co Tyrone: Barney Desmazery, BBC Good Food Show editor; Marian Meehan, Kennedy Bacon; and John Hood, Invest NI.





Paul Duffy, general manager


hile boasting a population of over 1,000, Aughnacloy is actually the gateway from the west of the Province into Co Monaghan and to the Irish capital itself – only an hour and half drive away. This single element more than any other drives trade at Daly’s SuperValu, where from weekday opening time, at 6.30am, customers are plentiful. Every time there is a sports match or concert in Dublin, thousands of people from as far away as Donegal flood through Aughnacloy – with coachloads stopping on route for breakfast, coffee, fuel or to use the scrupulously clean onsite toilets. But will the imminent departure of the UK from the EU harm this lucrative trade? “The busiest period is from opening to 8am when the many people who now travel to both Monaghan and to Dublin for their work mingle with the ‘white van men’ – delivery drivers and contractors on route to jobs – all of whom enjoy our hot food offering,” says Paul Duffy, general manager. “Coffee is a major driver too with a dedicated dual dispense just inside the main door as well as a carefully located convenience section with cold drinks and ready-made snacks and sandwiches to ‘grab and go’. “A very extensive range of newspapers and magazines and twin dedicated ‘fast service’ checkouts are located 8

adjacent; all to allow customers the vital convenience and speed so vital to this trade. “Of course, it doesn’t stop then, rather just pause, as the hot food is in demand all day. “Unusually we keep it open all day and well into the evening, which catches the workers’ return trip. “Obviously the fuel islands with three quads and one single pump are a draw too, as we are in fact the last fuel stop before the border less than a mile away,” says Paul, adding that the ATM also brings in a lot of passing trade as does

the in-store post office. “The ATM is available 24/7 of course but, these days, the full range of post office services is on offer as long as the store is open, to 10pm every day. That has to be a plus in such an isolated, rural location.” As for the border and the Brexit discussions, Paul is optimistic. “No matter what happens to the actual border – be it a hard, soft, or somewhere in-between conclusion – people still need to fuel their vehicles, to enjoy hot breakfasts and the convenience of a supermarket ‘symbol group’ store

STORE FOCUS “There’s a large range of pharmacy and healthcare and even the former forecourt basics of car accessories and also some electrical goods, such as kettles. “Much of that is thanks to our wholesalers at Musgrave, with a daily chilled delivery and two ambient weekly but we also buy local produce and so help provide even more employment in this otherwise rural border area.

nearby,” he says. “The whole thing is a mystery, so it will be very interesting to see how it plays out internationally – but we are confident that being the ‘last post’ at the extreme edge of the country on the only land border with Europe won’t halt our continued progress.” Patrick Rafferty, the long serving office manager with more than a quarter century at Daly’s – is equally optimistic. “We have seen the Irish punt and sterling and later the euro/sterling vary dramatically in value and still kept busy so I think that, while we are living in interesting times, the business community will adapt to whatever regulations are the result,” he says. “We did it before and we can do it again.” LONG-ESTABLISHED The large 8,000-square-foot facility at Daly’s has been a part of village life for many years, having originally started out in 1991 as a twin-pump forecourt and small SPAR in the centre of Auchnacloy. In those days Leo Daly, the proprietor, had a small complement of just three staff. Leo had moved into retail from wine and spirits sales. In 2003, and still with Henderson’s SPAR fascia, Leo purchased the current site and looked around for the best deal for a wholesaler, eventually signing up with Musgrave and trading as SuperValu ever since. Today, the store is supermarket sized and employs well over 100 staff, mostly full time, making it a major employer in the area, and certainly dwarfing any other retailer in the area. This year saw a major revamp of the premises with extensive plans for more in

the next financial year, with the pumps in particular set for further upgrade. Fridays and Saturdays see a large number of trolley shoppers, estimated to be around a third of all trade and the average basket shop is a healthy £11.50, with value for money paramount. “Thanks to the power of the wholesaler, we are able to offer many bargain prices, at least on a par with the multiples on many items and sometimes better,” says Paul. “Even the extensive range of alcohol on offer in the integral off-sales facility is cost conscious with, for example, weekly

CHRISTMAS LOOMS Christmas is of course the busiest time of year, with Daly’s supplying the full range of turkey with all the trimmings. Even the much-in-demand take-away Sunday dinners that retail for less than £5 are themed for the festive season. Charity is not forgotten either as Musgrave supports Action Cancer in general, which Daly’s contributes to and also more locally, funds strips for several local teams across the whole community as well as backing events for good causes with either money or goods. Training is very important too as Daly’s ethos is for well trained, knowledgeable staff for everything including Wine & Spirt Education Trust qualifications and the essential food hygiene regulations. Staff are numerous and knowledgeable in many ways, generally knowing their customers by name; an essential point of difference between this supermarket and multiples’ ‘production line’ selling. Everyone is encouraged to feel part of

offers on quality wines that work out at around £6 a bottle. Chiller cabinets for wines and beers add to the attraction too. “The range of goods is enormous,” he says. “One whole wall is given over to chilled with a 16-bay refrigeration unit to complement the nine frozen cabinets. “There are six check outs – including those intended for fast convenience shoppers such as workers coming through – and we have, unusually, our own butchery counter with two staff on duty at all times.

the team and that seems to work, with many staff having more than 10 years’ service. Some have far more, such as Elaine McCrudden with 30 years’ service and Office Manager Patrick Rafferty who boasts 26 years. “We know our customers and they know us,” says Patrick. “That makes a big difference and, because of that, I am absolutely confident that whatever Brexit throws up, Daly’s will continue to prosper along a border that has now become, even more than before, the focus of international attention.” 9


DINING, DANCING AND A FEW LAUGHS AT THE JOHN BARRETT GROCERYAID LUNCH R eaching its fundraising target of £2,000, the John Barrett GroceryAid Lunch returned for another year to Deanes at Queen’s on November 19. A popular event on the annual calendar for the Northern Ireland branch of GroceryAid, the lunch is named in honour of the late John Barrett in recognition of his long-term contribution to the charity benefitting those working or having worked in the wider grocery sector. Compered by Trevor Magill from Musgrave and Gillian Hendrick from Sainsbury’s, the afternoon featured a four-course meal and entertainment from band The Ian Hannah Experience and local comedian Nuala McKeever. GroceryAid committee member Mark Gowdy of White’s Oats deserves special mention, meanwhile, for throwing some impressive dance moves. Main sponsors of the lunch were Sainsbury’s, Musgrave, CCHBC and PRM Group, while a number of other companies including Ulster Grocerowner Independent News & Media also supplied raffle prizes.

Pamela and David McWilliams, David and Linda Bradshaw, Adrian and Vivienne Moore, with Courtney & Nelson.

Nuala McKeever with Sainsburys’ Gillian Hendrick, Angus O’Neill and Damien Corcorran.

Neil and Bronagh Luke and Mark and Lorraine McCammond, with Henderson’s.

Samantha and Alan McKeown of Doherty & Gray with Gillian Hendrick of Sainsbury’s.

Jim McAlea and Mark Hewitt, Kerry Foods; Bryan Sterling, Holywood Partnership; aand Alan Borman, Savage & Whitten.

Yvonne Neill and Siobhan McAlea, Kerry Foods, Bryan Magee and Ulster Grocer Editor Alyson Magee, and Arlene Hewitt, Kerry Foods.

Joe and Pat Sloan and Wilma and Des McCullough, with SHS.





roceryAid is ditching its traditional London ball for a more modern festival which, if successful, could potentially be rolled out to other regional branches of the charity including Northern Ireland. Barcode Festival will be held at Hawker House in London, a contemporary events space offering indoor and outdoor opportunities for event sponsors and exhibitors to create innovative marketing opportunities, on June 28, 2018. “We reached out to our supporters about what we should be doing, or not doing, and what needed to be done differently,” says Steve Barnes, CEO of GroceryAid. “We found that we needed an event appealing to the leaders of tomorrow.” Showcasing the best of the food

and drink industry, Barcode Festival will aim to offer excellent networking opportunities alongside a diverse range of entertainment from big-name DJs and bands to games, competitions, demos, street food, bars and cocktails. “It’s a great space,” says Barnes, “and not weather dependent. The initial reception has been very good. This is an opportunity for brand owners to bring their brands to life, as all sorts of things can be done in the space available and we will be flexible about what that can mean, whether it’s shipping containers, trucks or double decker buses. “If we can prove the concept works, it could be rolled out to other geographies. It’s a bold call for a charity that’s done things the same way for many years. We need to move with the times.” Standard tickets are available from just £250 and a range of sponsorship packages are available. To find out more, contact or follow the journey via @BarcodeFestival.

ecently GroceryAid received a letter from Professor Anne McArdle, head of Department of Musculoskeletal Biology at the University of Professor Anne McArdle Liverpool. Anne was writing to say ‘thank you (which doesn’t seem enough)’ after support from the charity allowed her to continue her education when her father (a supermarket manager) died when she was just 17. Professor McArdle is now a leading light in the field of bio gerontology (the study of aging) and her advanced international research is of great importance. GroceryAid was able to step in at an inflection point in Anne’s life and make a positive difference at a moment of great distress. “Professor McArdle’s story shows how we were there for a grocery family in their hour of need,” said Steve Barnes, chief executive of GroceryAid. “We made a lifechanging impact and we are humbled by what Anne has gone on to achieve. None of us ever know what is round the corner and that is why GroceryAid is there for colleagues in times of crisis. I could not be prouder that we are a part of Anne’s story.” Anne’s film is available at https:// our-stories/my-mum-never-forgotyour-kindness/.



o you know anyone who is working in, or has worked in, the wider grocery sector in Northern Ireland and is suffering from financial hardship, medical problems or mental health issues? Despite its strong record of raising funds for GroceryAid, Northern Ireland is under-presented in terms of recipients of the charity. Potential recipients are often

too proud to come forward themselves, when they could greatly benefit from its wide-reaching assistance. GroceryAid, the trading name of the National Grocers’ Benevolent Fund, is a charity for the grocery industry. From the largest factory, to the supply chain, and through to the smallest of stores, GroceryAid helps grocery people all over the UK who have worked, or are

working, and who need some extra support to get by. GroceryAid raises money through fundraising events, donations and corporate sponsorship. If you or someone you know have five or more years of service in the grocery industry and have fallen upon times of hardship, contact welfare@groceryaid., call 01252 975925 or visit 11




Cushendall family business, which can trace its roots back to the late 1700s, was set to close its doors for the final time on December 1. McAlister’s Supermarket, which traded under the Mace group, is one of the oldest family-run businesses in Northern Ireland, and has been based in Shore Street in the village since the 1790s. A business with a rich history in the grocery trade, the business survived the 1798 rebellion, the famine and two World Wars, providing a vital service to a

community cut off from other parts of the country before the construction of the Coast Road in the 1840s. Over the centuries, the business was a general merchant’s in the truest sense of the word, trading in everything from drapery to ammunition and from groceries to animal meal, hardware and even tickets for the White Star Line, sister ship to the Titanic. However, with the closure of the business, owner Andrew McAlister has said that more must be done to support small businesses in rural communities to prevent them becoming “dormitories for urban areas”. “McAlister’s shop has been part of the fabric of the Glens, playing a vital role in the area over the past 200 years, and is one of the oldest family

business in the north,” he said. Whilst our trade latterly was in grocery, the shop, as most small businesses in rural villages are, is also a place for people to meet and chat, particularly for older people. “However, as so many services have become centralised and online, and with big supermarket chains able to offer prices that smaller businesses simply can’t compete with, rural communities are essentially being hollowed out. With so many small businesses falling victim to this, it is not only the businesses that stand to suffer, but so too will the very essence of community spirit. “We hear much of the importance of city deals, but it is also essential that rural communities are supported with incentives and measures to regenerate our rural settlements. Failure to act on this will only bring more inequality and disconnection of the values that communities like Cushendall champion so well, and that’s not something we can afford to lose.”



etail NI and Hospitality Ulster have urged MPs and peers to support the creation of an enabling taxation and regulatory environment to stimulate growth in the Northern Ireland economy. The two organisations hosted a Northern Ireland Economy-themed reception at Westminster last month, addressed by Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Owen Smith, and attended by over 50 MPs, Lords and business leaders from Northern Ireland. In a joint statement, Retail NI Chief Executive Glyn Roberts and Hospitality Ulster Chief Executive Colin Neill said: ‘This reception is all about selling and promoting Northern Ireland plc and, despite the political situation, the fantastic potential of our economy. ‘Both our organisations represent two of Northern Ireland’s largest sectors and we have a shared aim of making Northern Ireland the very best place in these islands to locate and start a business and to shop and socialise. 12

Pictured at the event are, from left, Glyn Roberts, chief executive of Retail NI; Owen Smith MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland; Nigel Dodds MP; and Colin Neill, chief executive of Hospitality Ulster.

“We want to see radical changes to hospitality/tourism VAT and business rates, investment in our infrastructure, particularly in our rural towns, and world class skills and training to secure the future of our economy. ‘Our preference will always be for local devolved ministers to take these key decisions and we repeat our call for the

local political parties to secure agreement and restore the Executive. ‘We also need to change the conversation on Brexit - instead of focusing on the problems, let’s focus on the solutions that will stimulate economic growth in Northern Ireland. A hard border on the island of Ireland, or one across the Irish Sea needs to be avoided.’



Launching this year’s SPAR, EUROSPAR, ViVO and ViVOXTRA’s seasonal fundraising campaign for Tearfund are, from left, Q Radio DJ Cate Conway, Ruth Koch, Tearfund’s Northern Ireland director and Bronagh Luke, head of Corporate Marketing at the Henderson Group.


PAR, EUROSPAR, ViVO and ViVOXtra brands in Northern Ireland have launched a seasonal fundraising

campaign to support Tearfund in 2017. Tearfund’s Change for Life campaign, which launched recently in association with the Department for International Development, aims to empower people in countries like the Central African Republic affected by conflict to overcome poverty for good. For every £1 donated to the campaign, the UK government will donate £1, and in turn, SPAR, EUROSPAR, ViVO or ViVOXtra will also donate £1, meaning every £1 donated is automatically tripled, becoming £3. The campaign is running until the end of January 2018, and is aiming to raise money to help change the lives of

SPAR & EUROSPAR AIM FOR FESTIVE CHARITY FEAT S PAR and EUROSPAR stores in Northern Ireland are donating 10p from the sale of all products in the Christmas dailyDeli range to respective charity partners Marie Curie and Cancer Fund for Children. The products were first showcased at the Henderson Group Christmas conference, held in the Armagh City Hotel on October 18-19, and were produced for the Henderson Group brands by Newry-based Around Noon, a family-run business renowned for supplying high quality food-to-go products across the UK and Ireland. The range, which caters to a variety of tastes and preferences features a Christmas Feast with traditional Christmas fillings, pulled turkey, rich cranberry sauce, sage & onion stuffing, ham and baby spinach; a Festive Smoked Salmon with smoked peppered salmon, roast garlic aioli, sliced cucumber and crispy lettuce; and a Veggie Feast with roasted sweet potato, sweet cranberry, sunflower seeds, hummus, tomato relish and spinach, all served on fresh malted bread. A Turkey Pesto pasta completes the range, with nut-free pesto, pulled turkey, roasted sweet potato, sage and onion stuffing and dried cranberries on a bed of spiralled pasta. “An innovative product offering that is also seasonal really helps differentiate the SPAR and EUROSPAR brands from competitors,” said Neal Kelly, fresh foods director at the Henderson Group.

families in the Central African Republic, and around the world, who have suffered unimaginably due to conflict and poverty. “Each year, our shoppers prove just how generous they are by purchasing products associated with a Tearfund Campaign, and this year, it just couldn’t be simpler to give,” said Bronagh Luke, head of Corporate Marketing at Henderson Group. “Shoppers can simply make a donation at the till or online.” EUROSPAR, SPAR, ViVO and ViVOXTRA have been supporting Tearfund in Northern Ireland since 2012, raising over £700,000 to date.



arista Bar, owned by Henderson Foodservice and sold exclusively across the SPAR, EUROSPAR and ViVo store network in Northern Ireland, has become the region’s leading retail coffee brand with 330 sites. The brand launched in 2015 and opened 300 its retail coffee sites in just two and a half years, with a further 30 sites launching before the end of 2017. To date, Henderson Foodservice has invested over £3m in the Barista Bar brand, which is delivered in partnership with United Coffee Company (UCC), and is expected to invest further in new technology and equipment. On average, nine new Barista Bar stations have opened every month, offering consumers a complete, in-store coffee experience with full POS merchandising, treat bars and bespoke concepts, such as the new Christmas campaign. “The success of the Barista Bar brand is based on three key factors: quality, taste and convenience,” said Mark Stewart-Maunder, business development director, Henderson Foodservice. “It offers great tasting coffee that is consistent across every one of our sites with conveniently-placed, easy-to-use machines and fantastic value. “We are thrilled to be on course to reach 10 million cup sales and to have a Barista Bar in 330 sites across Northern Ireland by the end of 2017.” 13


ANOTHER BOOST FOR THE NI ‘ENERGY’ MARKET TITANIC QUARTER RETAILER INVESTS £680,000 IN EXPANSION Pictured are James Eyre, commercial director, Titanic Quarter and Andy Davis, co-owner of SPAR Titanic Quarter.

S Pictured are, from left, Gareth Hardy from Boost, retailers Suzanne and Billy Bassett, and Simon Gray and Al Gunn from Boost.


aving launched a major initiative in September to drive sales of its 500ml Original PET SKU, Boost has since had thousands of entries and awarded its first winners. The promotion has a £25,000 prize fund for consumers with an additional £12,000 for retailers. The 500ml on pack promotion is being supported by out-of-home, abovethe-line advertising, digital advertising, social media and PR, reaching millions of consumers. Recent support has included two university events and involvement in Victoria Square’s Student Night, where over 75,000 attended. “This activity has received a fantastic reception from consumers and we have already seen a NI trade winner in the first few weeks with Today’s Express, (Savage & Whitten) taking away £1,000 - but I’d love to see more,” said Gareth Hardy, managing director of Boost Drinks’ Northern Irish distributor, Hardy Sales & Marketing. The winning Today’s Express store gets through 25 cases of Boost a week, with Red Berry a top-seller. Suzanne Bassett, who runs the shop in Belfast, said: “We never enter competitions, so it was a great surprise to have found out we won. The prize will be a nice boost towards our family holiday to Tenerife this Christmas.” To enter, retailers should ‘tear & share’ the promotional token from the shrink wrap on cases of Boost 500ml, and return it to Boost by post or by emailing a picture with the final draw to be held on December 15. 14

PAR Titanic Quarter has completed a £680,000 investment in larger premises, catering for the rising number of residents, businesses and tourists in the area. The store, owned by Andy Davis and Graham Johnston, will remain in the Arc Retail units below the Arc Apartment Homes in the heart of the Titanic Quarter. “Prior to joining the Henderson Group and rebranding as a SPAR store, we had been providing an essential service for residents, workers and tourists in the area for four years, so we were

COSTCUTTER LAUNCHES INNOVATIVE BUSINESS SERVICES PROGRAMME Costcutter Supermarkets Group has launched a new Business Services programme for its independent store owners. By offering preferred suppliers for a selection of essential business services, Costcutter Supermarkets Group will help retailers reduce their monthly costs from these everyday services. As well as providing a leading CPoS rental package, Costcutter Supermarkets Group has partnered with leading national service providers across HR, banking, e-Learning, telecommunications, Insurance, WetStock, utilities, and financing. This means Costcutter Supermarkets Group is now able to offer its independent retailers access to discounted offers and rates negotiated by the group, helping store owners minimise the costs of running their business.

confident that our new services, such as Barista Bar coffee and a sandwich lunch offering would prove popular,” said Andy. “We have experienced a huge amount of growth in the past year and the bigger unit will allow us to provide more lunch options, with a new burger, salad and pizza bar and we’ll also have an off license on site. “Our fresh food offering will also grow considerably, allowing shoppers to choose between a wide range of local food suppliers and brands for their dinner on the way home from work.”

HENDERSON GROUP USES NEW FEEDBACK SYSTEM Tell Us First, an online customer satisfaction tool, has been allowing 420 Henderson Group stores to quickly gauge customer satisfaction, but also engage with their shoppers to ensure additional feedback and immediate resolution of any possible issues. The incentive scheme, in which participating shoppers enter into a monthly competition to win £100 by completing a survey, has become an essential tool for retailers to track customer service and feedback, with almost 13,000 survey questions completed by 2,350 shoppers since April 2017. This has given Henderson Group stores a NPS (Net Promoter Score) of 78.81, well above the industry average of NPS 30 for grocery stores.



“Nisa are world class when it comes to delivery. We’ve always enjoyed over 95% of deliveries arriving on time and in-full, so have never had issues with availability or stock. But when Nisa suggested that we switch to the new Nisa store of the future format we couldn’t have predicted what an impact it would have, it really has taken our business to the next level. The Nisa team remodelled the whole store to take advantage of extra space made possible by a reduction in size to our stock room. It was a big jump, but the move was made possible due to the reliability and frequency of Nisa’s deliveries, meaning we could easily work around the smaller stock room and maximise our selling space.

Nisa carefully worked out the range by identifying the main missions first, then location and category space. Only then was range selected. The promotions that Nisa provide are perfect for our customers and mean we can offer real value on the products our customers want to buy every day. The results have been a hit with the locals. The customers love what we’ve done here and they tell us that they feel the store is larger and more open than before, so we want to adopt the same format across our portfolio.”

Nisa’s phenomenal delivery service is unrivalled and better than we could ever have expected. Anish Keshwara, Nisa Local, Whittlesey

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SPENDING POWER OF NI FAMILIES DECREASES The latest figures from Asda’s Income Tracker indicate family spending power in Northern Ireland has decreased by 1.8% YoY in the third quarter, standing at £100 per week. Households across the UK as a whole had £197 per week of discretionary income in September 2017, down by £0.94 a week on the same month last year, marking the fifth month out of the last six in which the income tracker showed a decline on a national level. Positively, Northern Ireland and London experienced the strongest income growth across the nation in the third quarter at 2.2% and 2.3% respectively.

ASDA SUPPORTS FAMILY CARING CENTRE Following a donation from the Asda Foundation of £28,820, Rathenrawbased charity Family Caring Centre has taken delivery of a new state-ofthe art minibus. Aimed at supporting work within the local community, the upgraded vehicle will allow the charity to continue to help those whose lives are affected by illness, disadvantage and poverty. It will be used for practical support ranging from transport for service users to the centre, and group outings, to assisting other local charities and community groups, with over 250 families already benefitting from its assistance.

M&S LISTS BOATYARD GIN Boatyard Distillery has won business with Marks and Spencer for its award-winning gin. The company, which has converted a former boathouse overlooking the picturesque Lough Erne into a stateof-the-art craft distillery, is supplying the popular craft gin to 18 M&S stores in Northern Ireland with the potential to extend to the retailer’s network in Great Britain. The listing is Boatyard’s first with M&S. Boatyard Gin is the first of a series of spirits that the distillery plans to produce. It has already started producing small batches of whiskey and vodka. 16


ortadown-based Irwin’s bakery has been awarded a major contract to supply its iconic ‘batch bread’ to over 300 Asda stores across the UK. The deal, which is worth £500,000 a year for Irwin’s, is for three new lines of batch bread and one speciality fruit and oat muffin; all available under Asda’s premium own label range Extra Special. Pictured are Michael McCallion, Asda NI buying Batch (or plain) is a manager and Michael Murphy, traditional, slow-baked CEO of Irwin’s Bakery. Northern Irish bread with a distinctive shape, flavour and texture. Baked as part of an overall ‘batch’ of loaves on the sole of the oven, rather than in individual tins, it is famous for its nutty crust. The Extra Special Batch lines destined for Asda’s GB stores include Sourdough, Multiseed and Corn flavours. “We have a very strong partnership with Asda and have worked with its customer insight teams to develop innovative ranges which meet growing consumer demand for new tastes and flavours,” said Michael Murphy, CEO of Irwin’s Bakery. “It’s great that one of our best loved local breads has been given a 21st century twist and, with exposure on the shelves of Asda across the UK, has the potential to grow at a national level.”

M&S NI WINS NATIONAL AWARD FOR CARDIAC SAFETY CAMPAIGN M &S Northern Ireland has picked up an award at the 18th annual Pride of M&S Awards in London for their ongoing cardiac safety and defibrillator campaign. The award was presented to M&S Head of Region for Northern Ireland Ryan Lemon, along with project coordinators Killian Connolly and Lauren McCaughtry. The initiative, which was launched after the tragic death of M&S Newtownbreda Foodhall Manager Matthew Thompson, 39, from an undiagnosed heart condition while jogging, has seen defibrillators installed in all 20 M&S Northern Ireland stores, with over 200 members of staff trained in how to use them. Over 200 M&S colleagues in Matthew’s age category have subsequently undertaken heart screening, while M&S has also completed staff training in lifesaving CPR techniques using training kits purchased from the British Heart Foundation. The Call Push Rescue training kits are available for free to eligible

Pictured are, from left, Alex Williams and Mr Sheerin from Lisnagarvey High School; Steve Rowe, Marks & Spencer CEO; James Cant, director, British Heart Foundation; Lauren McCaughtry, M&S commercial manager; Ryan Lemon, M&S head of region for Northern Ireland; Andrew McRoberts, Lisnagarvey High School; Sacha Berendji, M&S retail director; and Killian Connolly, M&S commercial operations manager.

secondary schools from the British Heart Foundation, and the first packs were presented to M&S Lisburn store’s partner school, Lisnagarvey High School, by M&S Chief Executive Steve Rowe. “Ryan, Killian and Lauren have definitely gone above and beyond,” said Steve Rowe, M&S chief executive. “They are a credit to M&S and I’m proud to call them colleagues.”

My Life in the Grocery Trade CAROLINE McCUSKER, EVENT MANAGER FOR IFEX WITH FRESH MONTGOMERY (and hard work) to see the event go from strength to strength despite the changing environment. The longevity of IFEX reinforces the important role that value of face-to-face marketing still plays in helping to grow business and make new contacts.

WHAT IS YOUR CURRENT ROLE? I am the events manager for IFEX and ScotHot, which is owned by Fresh Montgomery. At Fresh Montgomery, we specialise in trade shows for the food, drink and hospitality industries in Belfast and across the UK as well as Asia and South Africa. Our portfolio includes IFE, Hotelympia as well as the Speciality Fine Food Fair. IFEX is Northern Ireland’s biggest trade event, which takes place every two years. We’re currently working on IFEX 2018, which is taking place from the 20th–22nd March. BRIEFLY OUTLINE YOUR EMPLOYMENT HISTORY TO DATE I have worked in the events industry for over 15 years. My experience spans a number of business-to-business sectors; however, my specialism is in the food, drink, foodservice and hospitality industries. I have worked on eight editions of IFEX, and it’s been a pleasure

WHAT DOES YOUR ROLE INVOLVE? Each day is very different and varies depending upon the show that I am working on. Next year, IFEX is introducing a sister show – Meat@IFEX - this innovative new event will be focused on showcasing the meat sector and it will also house over 250 butchers from around the globe, who will be taking part at the World Butchers’ Challenge – a first for Northern Ireland. This is keeping me busy, liaising with exhibitors and show partners ahead of the show to ensure we deliver a seamless event for over 7,000 industry professionals. WHAT ARE THE BEST/WORST PARTS OF YOUR JOB? With a background in sales, I really enjoy the process of identifying potential customers, liaising with them and securing a deal. I’m a people person so never shy away from face-to-face meets or phone calls as both the events industry and food, retail and hospitality sectors are all about building and establishing relationships. In my role, I get to meet interesting people who are driving the sector forward and it is really inspiring to work alongside them. Worst – sore feet! The concrete floors which are favoured by venues start to take their toll after walking miles over the duration of a show.

WHAT HAS BEEN THE PROUDEST MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER TO DATE? IFEX 2016 was a very proud moment for me. Coinciding with the Year of Food & Drink in Northern Ireland, 2016 was also IFEX’s biggest show to date with visitor numbers up by 22% and the feedback we received both during and post show was incredibly positive. IFEX won numerous awards that year including the top prize for Best Tradeshow Exhibition under 2,000sq.m at the AEO Excellence Awards. WHAT IS THE BEST THING ABOUT BEING INVOLVED WITH THE LOCAL RETAIL INDUSTRY? The diversity and innovation. I get to mix with a real assortment of industry professionals - from the biggest names in the retail sector to small start-up businesses. They are responsible for driving forward the sector and it is inspiring to be a part of it. WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO TO UNWIND AWAY FROM WORK? I am a real foodie and love checking out some of the fantastic restaurants across Belfast with my husband and girlfriends. We also love to travel and Malaga is my home from home, which I try to visit at least three times during the year. TELL US SOMETHING ABOUT YOURSELF THAT NOT MANY PEOPLE MAY KNOW. I like to keep fit and attend Ian Young ifit circuit class once a week.


BREXIT CHALLENGES HIGHLIGHTED AT IDF WORLD DAIRY SUMMIT At a panel discussion held during the World Dairy Summit, speakers underlined the importance of getting consumers and health authorities to recognise the nutritional value of dairy.

EUROPEAN AND US SECTORS LEAD MILK PRODUCTION RECOVERY Véronique Pilet, editor in chief of the IDF report.


government to publish its future plans hallenges and opportunities around for agriculture in the UK through Brexit facing the dairy industry were a parliamentary bill “at the earliest highlighted at the International Dairy opportunity early next year”, adding that Federation’s (IDF) World Dairy Summit, any delay would be detrimental to the held at the Belfast Waterfront over industry. October 30 to November 2. Pietrangeli called on the UK The foremost international conference government to deliver a transitional event for dairy sector leaders and period until 2022, no import/ stakeholders, this year’s summit export tariffs, protection of was themed around Making a a world-leading regulatory Difference with Dairy. framework on food standards, Tomas Pietrangeli, UK food safety and animal managing director of Arla welfare and investment Foods, said the industry in new entrants and next was facing “the biggest generation farmers. seismic change in the Dr David Walker, New political and financial Zealand’s ambassador landscape in our to the World Trade lifetime”. Organisation, told the “The end of free trade Summit New Zealand had is a major risk,” he said. been agreeing free trade “In order to protect the deals since 1983 and also health of the dairy industry worked through the WTO. in the UK, we need to have He said New Zealand hoped to tariff-free and barrier free make progress on a deal with the trading conditions. We are a business and an industry Dr Michael Dykes, president and EU and, in the event of the CEO of the International Dairy UK leaving the EU, a deal that makes a significant Foods Association. could be arranged between contribution to the dairy New Zealand and the UK. industry and the wider UK Dr Michael Dykes, president and economy.” CEO of the International Dairy Foods An independent economic impact Association, told the Summit that, in the assessment of Arla’s UK business had shown that the company generated £6bn United States, “significant uncertainty” persisted over trade arrangements. He GVA to the UK and direct and indirect said a proactive trade policy is essential jobs totalled nearly 120,000. for the US. Pietrangeli called on the UK 18


he European and US dairy markets are leading international recovery in milk markets, delegates at the International Dairy Federation (IDF)



orld political and agricultural leaders were told dairy is committed to playing a vital dual role in feeding the world with nutritious foods, and protecting the environment. Dr Judith Bryans, president of the IDF, said the global dairy community is one billion people strong and is currently feeding 6 billion consumers. Twenty dairy producing countries are now signed up to a global initiative called the Dairy Declaration of Rotterdam, which makes a commitment to meeting the sustainable development goals set by the United Nations.

WORLD DAIRY SUMMIT REVIEW World Dairy Summit heard. IDF launched its World Dairy Situation Report 2017 at the Summit in Belfast; available now at https:// “The global dairy market remains uncertain and the only thing that we can say for sure is the volatility which is a result of supply and demand issues is here to stay,” said Véronique Pilet, editor in chief of the IDF report and head of economics at French Dairy Inter-branch Organisation CNIEL. “Dynamism in the European and US markets is leading recovery and production prospects over the next few months remain good. Butter prices are at an all-time high; however skimmed milk powder prices are still eroding.” Pilet said that recovery had followed a year when both global production of dairy and consumption were stagnant and, in some areas, showed a slight decrease. She said contributing factors to this could be the Russian ban on importing dairy products from the EU, decreasing purchasing power in oilproducing countries and the economic situation in some South American countries. New Zealand remains the world’s largest exporter of dairy with a 29% share of the market, closely followed by the EU at 28% and the US at 24%. Overall production of milk rose by 0.9% in 2016 compared with growth rates of 2.0% and more in recent years. “Historical lows are giving way to a period of recovery”, said Pilet, “and we are now seeing a stronger demand for dairy in 2017.”



ndustry leaders from the UK, China, Japan and Australia underlined the importance of communicating effectively with consumers who are looking for reassurance on the integrity and quality of dairy foods at a time anti-dairy activism is on the rise. “The message from across the global sector is quite clear - the industry must be committed to highlighting the nutritional benefits of dairy and confronting the many myths that are peddled by the anti-dairy lobby,” said Dr Judith Bryans, president of the International Dairy Federation. “It is a major challenge but one that dairy can rise to.”



he rapid development of technology and major advances in so-called ‘big data’ will have significant effects on the dairy industry, delegates at the International Dairy Federation World Dairy Summit were told. Dairy is at the forefront of adopting new and dynamic technology that will improve efficiency while ensuring delivery of nutritious, safe and sustainable foods to a growing world population. The seminar identified eight innovative technologies – including drones, sensors, 3D printing and blockchain that, combined with the advances in big data, could positively disrupt the dairy industry. Delegates heard how big data and new technologies are becoming increasingly important and affordable and are on the brink of revolutionising

the feeding of dairy cows around the world. Also under discussion was how the adoption of the latest technology and getting the most out of big data would ensure operational consistency and drive increased efficiency and productivity. The seminar affirmed that new technology and the use of big data must add value across the dairy supply chain, especially at farm level and that, on a practical level, the technology must be intuitive and allow the farmer to make better management decisions. The next revolution in dairy farming will see a shift from reactive to predictive management practices that will allow farmers to allocate resources more efficiently and operate in a more sustainable manner.



our dairy champions were honoured for their leadership, commitment and dedication to the industry at the International Dairy Federation (IDF) World Dairy Summit 2017. The coveted IDF awards were announced during a Gala dinner held at the Belfast Waterfront. The Norwegian Dairy Council received the International Milk Promotion Group Yves Boutonnat Trophy Award for its successful marketing campaign, One nutrient, hundred communication possibilities. Nutrition expert Mary Anne Burkman from The Dairy Council of California

was awarded with The IDF Volunteer Recognition Award for her skill in translating scientific language into practical information. Keith Johnston, principal research technologist at Fonterra, was awarded with The IDF Prize of Excellence 2017 for his outstanding contribution to the work of the IDF. The IDF Award 2017 was, meanwhile, awarded to Dr Robin Condron, former manager in animal health and welfare at Dairy Australia for strategic advice to the industry in Australia and internationally in the technical areas of food safety, animal health and welfare.



airy industry leaders highlighted continued impressive growth, providing a clear indication the future for dairy is bright in emerging markets, particularly in Asia, Africa and Latin America. “A substantial proportion of our revenues are generated from exports with over 200 of our products being exported to over 80 countries,” said Michael Hanley, Group chief executive, Lakeland Dairies, which operates on both sides of the Irish border. “A host of opportunities exist for dairy businesses in global emerging markets. “By 2050, three out of four people will either live in Africa of Asia. It is vital for dairy businesses in developed markets to invest time and resources in building a presence to ensure dairy remains an integral part of consumers’ diets in these markets.” The South American dairy industry also has its own special characteristics and opportunities for growth. 19



IRISH POULTRY MARKET RISES The Irish poultry market has remained resilient over the past year with total value sales estimated to stand at €832.7m in 2017. In Northern Ireland (NI), value sales rose by 2% while looking at the Republic of Ireland (RoI), value sales saw a 3% increase. Year-on-year growth is forecast to continue for the Irish poultry market, with sales estimated to increase by 8.3% over the next five years. Currently, chicken dominates sales, accounting for 87% of the total poultry market. This is likely due to the wide availability and low price of these products in comparison to other poultry products and also the high level of versatility they offer. This is particularly true for unprepared chicken products which enable consumers to cook a variety of dishes from scratch. Turkey represents 8% of the total poultry market; since 20

turkey is typically leaner than other poultry types, consumers who are looking to adopt healthier diets may be swayed into buying turkey over chicken in the foreseeable future. CONVENIENCE WINS According to Mintel research, some 65% of NI consumers have purchased unprepared portions/fillets/diced chicken in the last month, making it the most popular kind of poultry product eaten by Irish consumers. It’s worth noting that overall, Irish consumers show a greater preference for buying unprepared portions/fillets/diced chicken than unprepared whole chickens, which are chosen by 44% of consumers in NI and RoI respectively. Unprepared poultry products are able to speak to Northern Irish consumers on two mainstream trends: scratch cooking and healthy

eating. This is because they give consumers greater control over their meal in terms of seasoning and portion control. Mintel’s data also indicates that Irish consumers want the best of both worlds; they want to be able to cook from scratch using unprepared chicken fillets/portions/cubes, but are not willing to prepare a whole chicken due to time constraints and a lack of cooking skills or confidence. MILLENNIALS WANT RECIPE IDEAS Demand for recipe ideas is highest among Millennials, with 78% of 16-24 year olds in NI saying they would like to see more recipe ideas on poultry products. This is reflective of the growing interest in cooking from scratch among this cohort, and also the desire to try more exciting dishes. This opens

MEAT & POULTRY up an opportunity for manufacturers to partner with chefs and nutritionists to introduce exciting recipes on product packaging and in future marketing campaigns. In doing so, this will help bring more excitement to the poultry category. NORTHERN IRELAND DRIVES CONSUMPTION OF BREADED/ BATTERED CHICKEN Northern Irish consumers are 12 percentage points more likely than their RoI counterparts to buy breaded/ battered chicken or turkey products, such as nuggets or Kiev. This could be due to health perceptions of these products and the fact that RoI consumers tend to be more in tune with current health trends. Indeed, RoI consumers are more likely to agree with the statement ‘I do not trust the quality of meat in breaded/battered poultry products, for example chicken nuggets, chicken Kiev’, in comparison to NI consumers. LOW FAT CONTENT DRIVES APPEAL Almost half of consumers in Northern Ireland say they buy poultry products instead of red meat because poultry typically has less fat (ie is leaner), making this the most influential factor for purchasing poultry. Price, convenience and versatility are other factors encouraging consumers to choose poultry over red meat. DISCOUNTERS PROMOTE IRISH PROVENANCE German discounters Aldi and Lidl have launched numerous marketing campaigns in recent years that promote the Irish provenance of their products. For example, Lidl’s latest out-of-home marketing campaign centres on the tagline Proud to bring you the best of Northern Ireland produce. This approach has enabled discounters to speak to Irish consumers on quality and trust and explains why they are outperforming the established multiples in a number of food and drink categories, including meat, fish and poultry. The promotion of Ireland-sourced produce will resonate well with 76% of NI consumers who say they prefer to buy poultry products that are reared/sourced locally. Looking ahead, purchasing of poultry products is expected to continue at discounters as more consumers turn towards these stores in search of quality and lower prices, especially when household finances become more squeezed as a result of rising inflation.

INNOVATIVE PRODUCTS Tesco Slow Cooked Lemon & Herb Half Chicken is rubbed with a blend of sea salt, parsley and thyme and cooked for three hours with half a lemon. M&S Spirit of Summer BBQ Grill Arrabbiata Chicken Flatties comprise British chicken escalopes in a chilli, garlic and herb rub, and roasted red pepper sauce. The Chef’s Store BBQ Pulled Chicken is ready to eat cooked and shredded 100% British chicken breast in a sweet and smoky barbeque-style marinade. Mintel’s Poultry and Poultry Substitutes

report is available to purchase priced £1,095. Brian O’Connor is Mintel Ireland’s senior consumer analyst and research production manager. Brian has worked for Mintel Ireland since 2007 and has experience across Leisure & Tourism, FMCG, Retail, Finance and Industrial sectors. For more information about how Mintel can help your business, contact Ciara Rafferty, director, Mintel Ireland on +44 (0)28 9024 1849 or






ompetitive pricing, great customer service and a bold marketing strategy are all paying dividends for Henderson Food Machinery, which has continued to grow and consolidate its position as Ireland’s leading food machinery supplier over the past year. Led by Managing Director David Henderson, the business is now in its third year of operation from its Crossgar headquarters. Team HFM includes Debra Henderson as Accounts Director, Office Manager Hollie Molyneaux and Administrator Nicola Ringland, while recently Sales & Marketing Manager Julie Bell has been appointed as Sales Director. Two on-the-road engineers, Rory McIntosh and Dermot Byrne, service the market north and south of Dublin respectively, while the team also includes an in-house engineer and general maintenance staff. “The past year has gone really, really well,” says David. “We’ve taken on a lot more partners, and we’re dealing with a lot more customers. HFM are very much customer and price focused which has resulted in getting a lot of enquiries for machinery along with repeat business and new customers. Our priority is to be customer and price focused as we realise today’s marketplace is ever changing.” While also supplying into sectors such 22

as meat, fish, poultry, confectionary, pet food, fruit, dairy and brewing, particularly strong areas for the business this past year have included bakery, ready meals and vegetables. Henderson Food Machinery works with big brands such as Havantec, Deighton and Apple Food Systems, as well as others including CRM, JayCraft and new partners Line Equipment and Peboeck Group. “We’re driving the business forward,” says David. Around three quarters of all trade would be in new equipment, with the remainder used machinery, while 65% of business would be in Ireland, 25% Great Britain and 10% exported globally to markets such as Saudi Arabia, Europe, the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

AUTOMATED SOLUTIONS New business includes a few lucrative deals to supply multiple units such as Burger Formers and Bread Slicers into a number of supermarket chains around Ireland while, for smaller businesses, Henderson Food Machinery will offer rent-to-buy options. “We’re getting more and more customers asking us to give advice on equipment and automating factories,” says David. “Labour is a great talking point within the industry at present and if customers can automate, this will help their businesses going forward. With David’s extensive experience in the food processing and packaging industry, and broad portfolio of partners, Henderson Food Machinery is well placed to assist companies seeking automated

EQUIPMENT PROFILE PARTNERS OF HENDERSON FOOD MACHINERY INCLUDE: • Apple Depositors • Carruthers Shredders • CRM Slicing Equipment • Deighton Equipment • Fischbein Saxon • FPE Grinders • Havantec Food Equipment • Henkelman Vacuum Packers • ILPRA Range of Packaging Equipment • Jay Craft Food Machinery • Line Equipment VFFS • Peboeck Group • Porlanmaz Bakery Machinery • Robot Coupe Equipment • Rotech • Thissen & Stecher Cooking Vessels • Thompson Machinery Mixer Grinders • Treif Dicing & Slicing Equipment

solutions to help production costs. “Most of the business we’re getting these days is down to our social media and mailshots. We have a database of 65,000 customers around the world, and will pick areas to target.” With its cross-border business, Henderson Food Machinery has been keeping a keen eye on the Brexit negotiations – or lack, there of – and has taken the pre-emptive step of setting up a registered office with its own online presence in the Republic of Ireland. “If the hard border comes, what do you do?” says David. “We’ve got probably three suppliers out of England, and the rest of them all come from Europe. We would probably have to order the equipment in Southern Ireland but would still have the problem of getting it into Northern Ireland.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen, and you do worry. We’re still a growing business and our turnover has gone up, but it has been harder because you don’t know from one day to the next what the euro exchange rate is. Those few cents, when you’re dealing with £20,000 machines and very tight margins, have a knock-on effect. “We have to keep working away, and are pretty much 24-7. The team is putting in the work, and business is increasing all the time, but we have to be on our guard not knowing what is happening with Brexit.” MARKETING STRATEGY Always thinking outside the box, David – who moved from England with Debra to start the business – attributes its success in part to a bold marketing strategy.

The coming year with see a strong presence for the company exhibiting at IFEX Belfast, Foodex in the NEC Birmingham, the Balmoral Show in Lisburn, National Ploughing Championships in Tullamore, PPMA Show in Birmingham and Anuga in Cologne, Germany. Henderson Food Machinery is also returning, meanwhile, for another year as a sponsor of the Ulster Grocer Marketing Awards and Blas na hEireann Irish Food Awards while, for the first time, will feature as the main sponsor of William Dunlop Racing 2018. Further marketing activity spans company vehicle branding to strong social media activity; particularly on Twitter. “We like to make sure we stand out from the rest,” says David. “Branding is important to us, and we have worked hard in the last three years to get the brand where it is, what we need to do now is move to the next level.” “We’ve got a cracking team, and we look forward to 2018. We’ll keep driving the business forward, and I think it’s exciting times ahead.”

Team HFM would like to welcome all their customers both old and new to their Open Week at their Showrooms in Crossgar. Drop in anytime between 9am–5pm from Monday 22nd to Saturday 27th January 2018.




he Northern Ireland Beef and Lamb Farm Quality Assurance Scheme (NIBL FQAS) has been branded a potential saviour for farmers postBrexit. So said Professor Patrick Wall of University College Dublin, key note speaker during the 25th anniversary celebration of the NIBL FQAS, hosted by the Livestock and Meat Commission (LMC) in the La Mon Hotel, Belfast on November 7. Over the last 25 years, NIBL FQAS has received great support from farmers and processors alike ensuring Northern Irish beef and lamb is able to compete on a global platform. “At the top end of the market, the British consumer has got used to seeing the country of origin, it being produced in Britain, quality assurance and good animal welfare standards and that’s four aces that you have to continue to play,” said Prof Wall. “If you thought the scheme was important in the last 25 years, as we go forward it will be more important because it will be a point of differentiation for yourselves.” Gerard McGivern, LMC chairman, said: “With a provenance stretching over a quarter of a century, NIBL FQAS really does tick every box for the consumer: provable traceability, animal welfare and the highest environmental standards, all of which have succeeded in giving customers total confidence in the beef and lamb they are buying.”

The NIBL FQAS Board.

Gerard McGivern, chairman LMC, Noel Lavery, DAERA, Perpetua McNamee, DAERA, Robert Huey, DAERA and Ian Stevenson, LMC CEO.

LMC’s team of demonstrators, who promote local beef and lamb around Northern Ireland.

Ian Stevenson, CEO LMC, agricultural journalist Richard Wright, Professor Patrick Wall and Gerard McGivern, chairman, LMC.


Founders of FQAS John Fay, Alice Robson and Deirdre McIvor.

Ian Stevenson CEO LMC, and Grainne Moody and John Hood, Invest NI.


DEVENISH CLAIMS WORLD FIRST WITH NATURALLYENRICHED OMEGA-3 CHICKEN A world-first clinical trial delivered by the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, on behalf of Belfastheadquartered farming and food company Devenish, is said to have proven regular consumption of naturally-enriched omega-3 chicken and eggs is likely to reduce risk of heart attack, stroke, dementia and depression. The results of the novel six-month clinical trial were presented on a world stage at the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions Conference in Anaheim, California, on November 14. The 161 subjects involved in the study consumed at least three portions of

chicken and eggs per week that were naturally enriched with omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (PUFA), the same nutrients found in oily fish. “Offering birds a natural and sustainable source of omega-3 PUFA is good for the bird and good for the consumer,” said Professor Alice Stanton of The Royal College of Surgeons. “Taste panel studies have shown that the omega-3 enriched chicken meat tastes as good, if not




annan Meats has continued its development of innovative sausage flavours based on meats which have gained UK Great Taste awards. The Moira-based processor has introduced new Pastrami Brisket and Sugar Pit Brisket sausages to its existing range of premium meat products. Both sausages have 67% meat, with the pastrami brisket sausage based on


allycastle-based Broughgammon Farm, a cabrito and rose veal specialist which has also pioneered a unique goat bacon, has developed a new Slow Smoked FreeRange Rose Veal Bacon. The company, run by Charlie Cole and wife Becky since 2011, smokes the veal from their own small herd slowly over oak chippings in their smokery. “The new bacon is an excellent example of our strategic focus on new product development,” said Millie Cole, a director of the business. “Innovation is at the very heart of our business. We have to be nimble and flexible to stay ahead in such a vibrant artisan food industry in Northern Ireland.”

better than conventional chicken.” Owen Brennan, executive chairman, Devenish, said: “We worked closely with Moy Park, Waitrose and the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, to deliver an innovative, nutrient-rich food, that increases omega-3 levels in consumers, naturally. The science shows the importance of food nutrients to promote good health in consumers and the innovation starts on the farm.”

Hannan’s UK Great Taste threestar pastrami, and also featuring black pepper, coriander and mustard seeds, and paprika. The sugar pit brisket is based on the sugar pit bacon rib, which was listed in the Great Taste Top 50 after gaining three stars. Also launched recently were Italian spicy and pork and apple sausages and a spicy Mexican Chipotle pork sausage.



new brand, Lisnacree Lamb, has been launched by Harnett’s of Waringstown, a farming enterprise long recognised as a leader in award-winning culinary oils such as rapeseed, linseed and hemp. The lambs are raised on their farm on

the slopes of Northern Ireland’s iconic Mourne Mountains from a flock of black faced mountain sheep, free to roam the heather-clad hills overlooking Kilkeel. The lambs are then finished on grass closer to the Irish Sea coastline, which gives the meat added flavour from natural salt sea air. The business is also raising Hebridean mountain sheep and lambs on Duvillaun, a remote island off the coast of Co Mayo in the Republic of Ireland.



wo Northern Irish processors have picked up category awards in the UK Sausage Awards 2017, held as part of British Sausage Week (October 30-November 5). McCartney’s of Moira scooped Traditional Pork Sausage, while Finnebrogue Artisan of Downpatrick lifted Best Northern Ireland Innovation with its Booker Blackgate British Pork and Kentish Cider Apple sausage.

Finnebrogue is a major supplier of premium sausages to leading retailers such as Marks and Spencer, Waitrose, Sainsbury and Tesco. McCartney, an independent butcher and deli business, has long been among Northern Ireland’s leading producers of sausages. The butchery business has won a string of UK and Irish awards for its sausages.

Denis Lynn of Finnebrogue Artisan.





ver a period of weeks, Ormo conducted blind sensory tests, asking consumers their opinions on taste, softness, size and texture, and the outcome has been revealing. So, what are the big changes? Well, the family staple pancakes are now bigger and fluffier with the same great, sweet taste


that you expect from an Ormo favourite. Still made with fresh, locally-sourced buttermilk and eggs, Ormo pancakes are a great source of calcium making them perfect for the kids. And just when you thought Ormo soda farls couldn’t get any better, the expert Ormo bakers have made them even softer. These delicious, local treats are all still made to the iconic Ormo recipe and farl shape, made with fresh locally-sourced buttermilk giving it that distinctive taste we all know and love. “Ormo pancakes and soda farls have been popular in Northern Ireland for generations. We have very loyal customers at Ormo, so continually improving our offering is of the utmost importance. We have successfully reformulated two of our classic products, so our consumers and their families can continue to love them and include them as part of their daily lives,” comments, Trevor McCrum, commercial director, Hovis Ireland. To communicate our great news, Ormo have created lots of impactful

promotional material including shelf barkers, dump bins, security barrier covers and 6 sheet outdoor advertising. This product refinement development is the latest stage in Ormo’s journey to ‘Bake Me Happy’® and places the consumer at the heart of everything they do, allowing the brand to expand their appeal to include a younger audience. Ormo has been in Northern Ireland since 1875, and has been renowned for making great quality products, continually innovating and moving with changing times, this is just another step in Ormo’s journey! Consumers can now try the new recipes for themselves in all major grocery multiples and convenience stores across Northern Ireland. Once you try, you will buy again and again….




hile it’s not my usual type of bedtime reading, I found a recent projection of UK consumer trends for 2018 fascinating. It’s always good to know what the experts think about trends that are likely to drive food and drink in coming months. It also helps shape our approach in Food NI and the work we do with value-added companies in particular. It would certainly be worth companies, as well as retailers, consulting this important study. Well, according to the Mintel researchers, five key trends are likely to impact the global food and drink market over the coming year. As far as I can see, Northern Ireland companies are positioned to benefit from many of them especially in our key markets of Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland. The first trend is a likely demand from consumers for ‘greater transparency’ from all manufacturers in 2018. This means manufacturers will be expected to offer more information about ‘how, where, when and by whom food and drink is grown, harvested, made and/or sold’. Most of our companies have been moving in this direction for some time, especially those sampling at farmers’

markets, delis, independent retailers and multiples. Mintel says ‘the need for reassurance about the safety and trustworthiness of food and drink had led to increased use of natural as well as ethical and environmental claims in global food and drink launches’. ‘In addition to more specific product details, the next wave of clean-label would challenge manufacturers and retailers to democratise transparency and traceability, so that products were accessible to all consumers, regardless of household income,’ Mintel continues. Our manufacturers clearly need an even sharper focus on these requirements. Consumers, especially younger shoppers, would also be seeking products that provide ‘nutrition, physical or emotional benefits that meet their personal needs, and they would be looking for more multisensory experiences from their food and drink’. The fourth trend, according to Mintel, is likely to be ‘more targeted promotions of food and drink drawing upon technological advances that make consumers’ lives easier’. And, lastly, science in the production of food



o Down-based vegetable and salad business Willowbrook Foods has been named the UK Fresh Produce Manufacturing Company of the Year at the UK Food Manufacture Excellence Awards (FMEAs). Based on the shores of Strangford Lough, Willowbrook Foods is Ireland’s largest bagged salad processor and supplies some of the UK and Ireland’s largest retailers, ingredients manufacturers and foodservice providers. Under the leadership of founder and Managing Director John McCann MBE, the business has achieved impressive growth in recent years. Turnover has climbed from £21.2m in 2015 to a current £33m. “An accolade such as this is reassurance to our customers that our

Colin Stanley of Willowbrook Foods collects the award from Jon Poole, chief executive of the Institute of Food Science & Technology and English Rugby Union cup winner and former team captain, Matt Dawson.

product range is of the highest quality and proof of the ambitious nature of our business,” said McCann. “We remain focused on growing our presence across the UK and Ireland by delivering the very best in fresh foods, from mashed potato to bagged salads, prepared vegetables to salad bowls. Innovation is at the core of our business as we seek to create convenient, highquality solutions to meet the needs of the retail and foodservice sectors.” The annual FMEAs, organised by William Reed’s Food Manufacture magazine, are in their 17th year and have become the premier showcase for manufacturing excellence.

and drink would come more to the fore during 2018. Time and money pressures will see consumers exploring a greater range of shopping channels and technologies including home delivery, subscription services and ‘automatic replenishment’. Our smaller companies clearly need to continue to explore technologies such as e-commerce. There would be more opportunities for companies ‘to tempt consumers by creating products and suggesting combinations of goods’, encouraging greater collaboration by producers. Technology could eventually be used to ‘design food and drink that was more nutritious’. This, of course, is already underway. The bottom line for companies, both large and small and across all sectors, is a need to look more closely about how they present and market their products, especially in labelling and promotional activities and language covering key areas such as nutrition, health benefits, animal welfare, where it applies, and how they reach out to consumers. They will also be a need to explore new technologies and greater collaboration to grow sales in order to tap into these consumer trends.



orthern Irish artisan food producer Hendrik Dennemeyer has been named among seven Future Food Leaders by the international Slow Food Network. Dennemeyer, who is based in Belfast, is the only person from the UK and Ireland listed by the Slow Food organisation among its Young Change Makers. Listed as a food and horticulture consultant, Dennemeyer is praised for his work in pioneering sustainability within a network of young leaders and start up entrepreneurs ‘emerging at the grassroots level. He is involved in developing artisan products especially honey and bread, raises bees for honey, grows his own fruit and vegetables, raises chickens for eggs, makes jams and preserves and bakes sourdough bread. 27


CONSUMER INSIGHT AND MARKET UPDATE BY JASON WINSTANLEY, SENIOR INSIGHT AND RESEARCH MANAGER, MOY PARK FROZEN COMES IN FROM THE COLD The grocery market is currently seeing some of the strongest growth it has recorded in recent years. In the 12 weeks to November 5, the market overall saw growth of 3.6%, with nine out of 10 major retailers in growth. Whilst there is some underlying increase in the population, which fuels a modest increase in volume, most of the growth that grocery is seeing is driven by price inflation. This is demonstrated by the fact that, over the same period, like-for-like prices on grocery items saw inflation of 3.4%, with markets such as butter, fish and colas seeing steep rises1. However, the same inflation which is finally driving most grocery retailers into growth following a couple of years in the doldrums is also driving a financial squeeze on a significant proportion of the population. A recent poll by Mintel suggests that almost a third of consumers are having financial issues. 21% said that they were only just making ends meet, whilst 6% described themselves as struggling, and 2% said

that they were in real trouble, meaning they had missed loan or bill repayments. So, whilst the majority of the population maintain a solid financial footing, this group of shoppers is having to make sacrifices or behavioural changes in order to get by. One beneficiary of adverse financial conditions is often the frozen category, and this certainly seems to be the case at the moment, with frozen seeing 12-week growth of 6.9%, almost twice that of the market as a whole1. Frozen makes a compelling case for the cashstrapped shopper; it can be bought in bulk, virtually eliminates the prospect of food waste and, most importantly, offers strong value credentials. It is ironic, therefore, that much of the strong growth that we see in the category is actually being driven by higher prices, with almost three-quarters of the growth coming from higher average price per unit. However, this does not necessarily mean that absolute prices are rising, as changes to lower pack weights and reduced piece counts can both result in

an apparent price rise, whilst maintaining a steady pack price for the consumer. Many frozen products are produced or sourced from overseas – which helps with their value proposition – and, as such, have borne the brunt of a lot of the inflation on cost of goods driven by the weaker pound, which, itself, resulted from... you guessed it – Brexit. Changes to pack weights and/or piece counts are therefore one way in which inflation is being passed onto consumers; albeit discretely. Even with the inflation that frozen is seeing, though, it is still proving attractive to shoppers, who remain nothing if not savvy. Frozen unit prices per item are often substantially cheaper than their fresh equivalents and, therefore, the category will continue to prove attractive to an important segment of shoppers; at least while inflation continues to run at its current levels. [Source: 1 – Kantar Worldpanel, 52 weeks to 5th November 2017; 2 – Mintel, Consumers and the Economic Outlook, October 2017]


etailers can prepare for the increased shopper focus on healthier lifestyles following the festive period by stocking Quorn, the delicious, nutritious protein source and best-selling chilled and frozen meat-free brand*3. “The UK’s meat-free category is now valued at over £312m*2 with much of that growth being driven by Quorn. In January alone, Quorn will drive sales of over £16m*5 as shoppers are looking for nutritious products such as Quorn that don’t compromise on taste or quality,” says Julian Cooke, head of UK Category Management at Quorn. “We’re consistently one of the biggest media-spending brands across all frozen and chilled sectors and, with awareness at an all-time-high following our £10m annual brand support package, we expect 2018 to be another successful year for the meat-free category.



Meat free shoppers spend up to five times as much in-store as non-meat free shoppers*1 • Meat free is bought by almost nine and a half million shoppers*2 • 80% of category shoppers are meat reducers*2 • Quorn is worth £173m*5

“Our sustained marketing support, with the brand on TV 49 weeks of this year, has highlighted just how easy it is to make great-tasting dishes with Quorn, and attracted new shoppers whilst encouraging brand loyalists to choose Quorn more often. “At a time of year when many people are actively seeking healthier options, Quorn highlights a profit opportunity for retailers.”

*1 Kantar Worldpanel 52 w/e 20 May 2017 *2 IRI 14/10/2017 & Kantar Worldpanel 08/10/2017 – 52 weeks ending *3 IRI 52we 19th August 2017 *4 IRI & Kantar Worldpanel 52 weeks 22nd July 2017 *5 Internal estimate based on January 2017 sales of £14m and January 2016 sales of £12m (IRI + Kantar 2016/17)


CHRISTMAS BROWNIE SQUARES KIDS OF ALL AGES WILL LOVE TO DECORATE THESE HOLIDAY BROWNIES! GET INSPIRED BY OUR BROWNIE SQUARES AND CREATE YOUR OWN VERSION. ALL YOU NEED IS... BROWNIES • One box Betty Crocker™ Chocolate Fudge Brownie Mix • Water, vegetable oil and eggs called for on brownie mix box • Green food colour • Red gel food colour • One tub Betty Crocker™ Velvety Vanilla Icing

DECORATION • Brown, red, green, yellow sugar-coated chocolates, regular size and mini size black and red writing icing tubes • White chocolate drops • Mixed green, white and red 100s and 1000s • Mini marshmallows or one large marshmallow cut into small pieces • One piece of black liquorice cut in small pieces

DECORATED CHRISTMAS TREE CAKE A FESTIVE CAKE TO SERVE AT YOUR NEXT CHRISTMAS PARTY! ALL YOU NEED IS... CAKE • 1 box Betty Crocker™ Velvety Vanilla Cake Mix • Water, vegetable oil and eggs called for on cake mix box DECORATION • Three tubs Betty Crocker™ Velvety Vanilla Icing • Green gel food colour • Black writing icing tube • Assorted sugar-coated chocolates • Four candy canes broken to remove curved ends • Yellow ready-to-roll icing or purchased chocolate star


ALL YOU NEED IS... CAKE • One box Betty Crocker™ Devil’s Food Cake • 120 ml vegetable oil • 230 ml water • 3 medium free-range eggs

TOPPING AND FILLING • 150 g whipping cream • Little cocoa and/or icing sugar for dusting • One tub Betty Crocker™ Chocolate Fudge Icing • 1 tbsp brandy (optional)




Forest Feast range in store to include an extra special seasonal collection. In further support of local suppliers,

and an extension to its existing relationship, Tesco Northern Ireland will stock the new Forest Feast Christmas range – a seasonal collection of nuts and dried fruit hailing from the Portadownbased supplier. The limited edition 10-strong range adds a seasonal twist to classic favourites including Vanilla Cashew & Cranberry Fruit & Nut and a Sweet and Spicy Caramelised Nut mix. This seasonal extension to the existing Forest Feast range is now available on the shelves at Tesco stores across Northern Ireland in the run up to Christmas. “Christmas is a busy time for food and drink purchases, it’s great to see this festive range from a local supplier,” said Jonathan McWhinney, packaged food buyer at Tesco Northern Ireland. Kestrel Foods Commercial Director Tim McVicker said that the deal was a great way to mark the launch of the new Christmas collection: “The Christmas Collection will be stocked in 36 stores across Northern Ireland, providing consumers with a delicious festive snack,” he said.

Other Northern Ireland winners were: • Rich Sauces, Newtownards, Co Down for its chipotle sauce in added ingredients for foodservice; • Golden Popcorn, Antrim for Sweet and Salty Duo Popcorn; • Avondale Foods, Lurgan, Co Armagh for a side dish of Broccoli, Quinoa and Kale with Lemon and Chive Butter for Dunnes Stores; • A Slice of Heaven, Donaghadee, Co Down for Zesty Lime Pie and Food Hero Gareth Brown; • Deli Lites, Warrenpoint, Co Down and Applegreen for Vitality Salad;

• White’s Speedicook Oats, Tandragee, Co Armagh and Aldi Ireland for Organic Porridge; • McCann’s Cider, Portadown, Co Armagh and Lidl Ireland for dry cider; • Around Noon, Newry, Co Down and Topaz Energy for Grab and Go Breakfast and Insomnia Café for Pesto Roast Veg Beetroot Ciabatta; and • Crust and Crumb, Derrylin, Co Fermanagh for Lidl Ireland Alfredo Gluten Free Magherita Pizza Base. Launched in 1979, the Quality Food Awards recognise products on sale in UK grocery outlets.

Pictured are, from left, Jonathan McWhinney, packaged food buyer at Tesco Northern Ireland and Tim McVicker, commercial director at Kestrel Foods.


ne retailer is helping local shoppers have a very merry Northern Irish Christmas this year by extending the

LOCAL PRODUCERS SHINE AT IRISH QUALITY FOOD AWARDS M ore than a dozen innovative products from Northern Ireland companies were successful in the Irish Quality Food and Drink Awards 2017. The prestigious awards, held in Dublin, recognised the quality and originality of Irish food and drink supplied, in particular, to retailers across the island. Winners from Northern Ireland ranged from smaller artisan businesses such as Clandeboye Estate Yogurt for a product supplied to Aldi Ireland’s Select Range – Greek Style Yogurt with Mango and Lime – to major manufacturers such as Dale Farm, Northern Ireland’s largest dairy company, for its Lidl Ireland Rathdarragh Extra Mature Cheddar in the cheese category. 30




he top butchers representing Ireland at next year’s World Butchers’ Challenge have been unveiled, following an intensive training and selection process. The World Butchers’ Challenge 2018 – which will take place during Meat@IFEX - is set to be the biggest yet, with Team Ireland competing against squads from 11 other countries in the hopes of being named Best Butchers in the World. The World Butchers’ Challenge and Meat@IFEX will be adjoining events to IFEX – Northern Ireland’s premier food, drink, retail and hospitality event – taking place from March 20–22, 2018 at the Titanic Exhibition Centre, Belfast. Visited by thousands of people from the foodservice and hospitality sectors, IFEX will be expanding its visitor base, with the World Butchers’ Challenge expected to attract 250 butchers from around the globe. Being hosted and trained by Butchery Excellence International, Team Ireland will be led by Garrett Landers, of Garrett’s Butchers in Limerick. He will be joined by Vice Captain, Ian McKernaghan of Lisdergan Meats, Fintona; Eric Donnelly

from Downlings, Dun Laoghaire; Colly Donnelly of J MacMahon’s Butchers, Cookstown; Eamon Etherson of Etherson’s Family Butchers, Portrush; and Stephen Millar of Millar Meats, Irvinestown. Mark Williams, currently a fourthgeneration butcher from Williams Butchers in Abbeyleix and Liam Walsh, of Eddie Walsh & Sons, Donegal are team Ireland squad members. The team is also made up of two Team Ireland Apprentices, Bryan McNamee of Mulkern’s Butchers, Newry and Robbie Farrell of Dowlings Butchers, Rathmines and two Team Ireland Young Butchers of the Year, Mark O’Connor of Downlings Butchers, Rathmines and Keith Walsh from Eddie Walsh & Sons Craft Butchers, Donegal. “After months of training and dedication from our butchers, we are thrilled with the final selection for Team Ireland,” said Rhonda Montgomery, CEO of Butchery Excellence International and manager of Team Ireland. “This is an incredible opportunity for the team to demonstrate their extraordinary skills and knowledge, and

indeed for Northern Ireland and Ireland, to showcase the quality of our produce on a World Stage. “The competition will be tough with the international teams eager to showcase their own skills, but I am very confident in Team Ireland as, individually, each butcher brings a new skill to the table. We’re hoping that best-inclass skills, combined with the home advantage will help Team Ireland to be named World Champions. Commenting on the importance of the World Butchers’ Challenge to IFEX and Meat@IFEX, Sean Owens, director of IFEX’s Salon Culinaire, said: “We are thrilled to see the World Butchers’ Challenge coming to Northern Ireland for the first time. IFEX as an event has always attracted the best of the food, drink and hospitality sectors but next year’s show, with the addition of Meat@IFEX, is set to be something special. “Our vision is to inspire and encourage our industry to learn and grow, and what better way to do this than by having the world’s finest coming to Northern Ireland. This is our opportunity to showcase the world-class food tourism offering that we’re producing across the island and further establish our food island reputation globally.” Taking place from March 20-22, 2018 at the Titanic Exhibition Centre, Belfast, the best butchers from Ireland, Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Bulgaria, Spain, South Africa, Germany, Greece, Italy, USA and reigning champions, France, will battle it out in a gruelling competition that will test their skills, innovation, teamwork, display and hygiene, with the aim of being named the Best Butchers in the World. Team Ireland is sponsored by the Kerry Group, McDonnells Queen Street and Spice O’Life. IFEX has a history of providing a vibrant platform for exhibitors to present a wide range of foods and beverages, promote the latest trends in interiors and technical equipment for the catering business and offers excellent opportunities to meet potential business partners, and next year’s event – with the addition of Meat@ IFEX - will be no exception. To find out more about Team Ireland, or to register to visit IFEX and Meat@IFEX, then visit or follow on social media @IFEX_NI / #meatatIFEX. 31



Reducing antibiotic usage in livestock by 27%, as well as record low sales in 2016, two years ahead of a government target is a major achievement for the agriculture industry, according to UFU. “This is a good news story and shows that farmers are fully committed to playing their part in the fight against antibiotic resistance,” said Victor Chestnutt, deputy president of UFU. “It is an issue for both human and animal health and it is in everyone’s interest that these medicines remain effective.” The comments were made following the publication of a report by the Department for the Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs and the Veterinary Medicines Directorate.


With one of the most difficult years in terms of weather continuing to take its toll on local farmers, UFU has called on dairy traders to take heed of the warning signs coming out from industry sources as we head into the winter months. “With many dairy farmers readying themselves for a fodder shortage on the back of cows being housed early, depleted silage stocks and later cut silage with negligible nutrient content, we could be facing a situation where milk could be scarcer than expected later in the year,” said Ivor Ferguson, deputy president of UFU, calling for mild cheddar prices to be upheld.


UFU says potato farmers are experiencing one of the worst harvests in living memory. “The long stretch of wet weather has meant fields have been virtually inaccessible until recently,” said Robert Sibbett, potato chairman at UFU. “Some growers have only been able to get into their fields for the first time this month (November). In some cases, the situation is so bad, growers have abandoned harvest attempts until the New Year due to the poor ground conditions. There are also reports that small amounts of rot are being found in harvested potatoes in storage. (see lead story, right). 32


Lewis Cunningham, MD of Wilson’s Country, is pictured, left, with North Down grower Derek Erwin.


ith more than half of this year’s crop still in the ground, Northern Ireland’s potato industry is ‘praying’ for a break in the weather to save it from one of the most disastrous harvests in living memory. “Normally by the end of October, the entire harvest would be nearing completion,” said Lewis Cunningham, managing director at Wilson’s Country. “Growers have been using every opportunity, and no little ingenuity, to get potatoes lifted over recent weeks. “But it has been a pretty thankless task. Ground conditions are extremely challenging. And this is particularly the case the further north to Co Antrim and east one travels into Co Down. “Some growers in Co Antrim have not had the opportunity to start harvesting at all yet, so difficult are the conditions in that part of the world.” According to Cunningham, most parts of Northern Ireland have experienced twice the levels of rainfall that would normally be expected in the

period since June. “This has made ground conditions almost impossible from the point of view of harvesting,” he said. “The Republic of Ireland is no different with a significant amount of the crop to be lifted.” Getting this year’s crop harvested is one issue; the quality of the potatoes coming out of the ground is another challenge for the industry. “Bruising has been a major problem this year,” said Cunningham. “This has been caused by harvesting conditions and the fact that the potatoes are coming out of the ground with so much soil. Currently, an extra 10% of new season crop is being discarded as it goes through the pack house due to bruisingrelated problems. “Potatoes are an extremely expensive crop to grow. The industry is currently on a knife edge. Growers need several weeks’ dry weather to get this year’s harvest completed. And that’s a big ask at this time of the year.” “Day length is shortening and heavy morning mists further reduce daily harvesting times.” Cunningham said that it will take a number of weeks to work through the consumer implications of this year’s challenging potato harvest. “The number one priority is to get as much of this year’s crop out of the ground. Only then can we really assess the implications for potato supplies in the shops over the coming months.”



he Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) has welcomed confirmation from the Department for Infrastructure that tractors will not be subject to MOT tests. UFU had raised concerns over reports that Fastrac type tractors, often used by contractors, would face MOTs if they were used at all on public roads. MOTs will not be necessary for agricultural or horticultural vehicles working within 15 miles of their operating base. “This is welcome, since the last thing farmers needed was the hassle, cost and time of having to get an MOT,” said Ivor

Ferguson, deputy president of UFU. “This would have driven up contractor costs, which would have been a burden for all farmers.”




lenarm Castle Farm Manager Bryan Wilson has been declared Beef Innovator of the Year at the British Farming Awards in Birmingham. The latest accolade follows Wilson’s recent recognition as Beef Farmer of the Year at the Farming Life and Danske Bank Awards 2017 held recently in Belfast. “I am honoured and humbled to have received both awards and, although we

realise we have a fantastic product, never imagined we would be so successful,” said Wilson. “I would like to thank our processing partner Hannan Meats, who have introduced a highly innovative process for ageing the beef, giving it a rare purity of flavour.” Glenarm Shorthorn Beef has been described by leading food critics as ‘the best beef in the world.” It is sold at upmarket London-based department store Fortnum & Mason, as well as other top hotels and restaurants throughout the UK and Ireland. Adrian Morrow, estate manager at Glenarm Castle, said: “This is a great Northern Ireland triumph. Bryan has carried out considerable genetic research and innovation before finally determining the most likely animal to produce a distinctive flavour. “We are also grateful to all the farmers who have become part of our Glenarm Shorthorn Scheme and our processing partner Hannan Meats in supplying this top-quality produce.”


lster Farmers’ Union (UFU) has launched its 2018 charity calendar, produced to help mark the 100th anniversary of the organisation. At least £5 from each £10 calendar sold will go towards helping the UFU reach its goal to raise £100,000 for Air Ambulance Northern Ireland. “The photos in the calendar were taken by and voted for Pictured are, from left, Kerry Anderson, head of fundraising at AANI with by our members,” said Barclay Victor Chestnutt, deputy president of UFU. Bell, president of UFU. “It is very much reflective of rural life in Northern Ireland. This is the same community that the Air Ambulance serves by making it quicker and easier to get emergency medical help to rural areas. This is one of the many reasons we are proud to support Air Ambulance NI in our centenary year.” Calendars are available to buy in local group offices, at UFU events, online www. and in 15 Fane Valley Stores across Northern Ireland. Dessie Ferguson, general manager, Fane Valley Stores, said: “We are more than happy to be supporting the UFU with their calendar sale across our Fane Valley Store network. All the proceeds will go to a worthy cause and we are happy to help the Union back a service we all want to succeed.”


UFU President Barclay Bell says UK politicians and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) need to wake up to the threat of the Mercosur trade negotiations on European food safety, animal welfare and the environment. He made the comments in the wake of reports the EC is set to increase its beef quota offer to the Mercosur states. Bell says it is scandalous that the European Commission is prepared to offer Mercosur increased concessions to export substandard agricultural products such as beef, which undermine UK food production and security, into the EU.


Castlescreen Farm, a producer of beef products from its own herd of pedigree Dexter cows supplied to Avoca stores, has diversified into gammon and bacon production. The Downpatrick-based company is developing a range of pork products from its own pigs reared on the family farm. “We’d certainly hope to attract business from a leading retailer seeking quality and fully traceable pork that’s all dry-cured by me on our farm,” said Damian Tumelty, who owns the farm business. “We don’t add anything to the gammon and bacon, ensuring a rich and natural flavour.”


Cavanagh Free Range Eggs has won Northern Ireland’s most prestigious award for poultry farming. The Newtownbutler business was named Poultry Farmer of the Year in the annual Farming Awards organised by Farming Life newspaper supplement and sponsored by Danske Bank. Cavanagh supplies eggs to major retailers such as Tesco and Asda as well as high-end hotels and restaurants. Best Artisan Producer was won by Ballinteer Quail Farm, a small business based near Coleraine, which specialises in quail meat, quail eggs, duck and seasonal game.



GRAHAM’S BAKERY TICKLES TASTE BUDS IN FRANCE Graham’s Bakery in Northern Ireland has won its first business in France, supplying a leading retail chain with its awardwinning biscuits. The family-owned bakery, based in Dromore, has sent the first consignment of its Irish Oat Cookies and Irish Butter Shortbread to Comptoir Irlandais. Comptoir is headquartered at Plouedem in Brittainy and has 45 stores across France in major centres, including Paris. “The order followed an approach to us by a member of Comptoir’s management team at a major food show in London,” said Tim Graham, sales and marketing director of Graham’s. Graham’s employs 50 people and has a portfolio of 20 products.

QUIET MAN MAKES A BIG NOISE IN HUNGARY The Quiet Man Irish Whiskey is now being distributed in Hungary as a result of its latest export deal secured during an international marketing drive. The Derry-based distiller has gained the listing with DunaPro in Budapest, marking the latest addition to its distribution network covering around 30 international markets including the US. “Setting up such a network has been a strategic focus of the business over the past year,” said Michael Morris, commercial director of The Quiet Man. “Hungary will become an important market for us as we develop our portfolio of quality whiskey.”

SEAFOOD SPECIALIST SEES FAST GROWTH IN CHINA Rooney Fish, a leading local exporter of fish and seafood, has seen sales to China rise by 25% in the past year. The company, based at Kilkeel, has seen significant growth in Chinese business as a result of its participation in major trade shows especially the China Fisheries and Seafood Expo in Qingdao in Shandong Province. The company specialises in crab meat, crab claws, whole prawns, whelks, lobsters and its award-winning Mill Bay Oysters, which gained three gold stars in the UK Great Taste awards in 2016 and 2017. Rooney Fish employs 65 people, including 20 new jobs created earlier in the year. 34



nvest Northern Ireland has opened a new office in Hong Kong in a drive to increase exports to Hong Kong and the Southern China region. “Hong Kong and Southern China offer tremendous opportunities for ambitious Northern Ireland companies to export here,” said Mark Ennis, chairman of Invest NI. “The appetite for Northern Ireland goods is increasing. “The latest figures from HMRC show that, in 2016/17, NI manufacturing exports to Hong Kong and China increased to more than £218m. Companies including B/E Aerospace, Tayto, Datum Tool Design and Andor Technology are successfully driving export growth in the region. “This announcement comes at a time when we are proactively building on relations here and follows the welcome news that export licences have been granted for four Northern Ireland sites to export pork to China.”

Pictured are, from left, British Consul General Andrew Heyn, Jennifer Liu, Invest NI, and the agency’s Chairman Mark Ennis.

This is the seventh location to be announced as part of Invest NI’s commitment to expand its international presence to help companies to grow exports. Jennifer Liu will be based in the British Consulate General and will work on building exports and relationships in Hong Kong and across the region of Southern China.


nvest Northern Ireland is to increase its presence in Australia with a new regional manager to be based in Sydney. “The Australian market offers Northern Ireland companies exciting opportunities to grow their exports,” said Alastair Hamilton, chief executive of Invest NI. “The latest figures from HMRC show that, in the 12 months between July Pictured are, from left, British Consul General Michael Ward, UK Trade & Investment Australia and New Zealand Director General 2016 and June 2017, NI Peter Hendrikssen, and Alastair Hamilton, Invest NI. manufacturing exports to the Asia Pacific region increased by 19% to £761m with exports to Australia accounting for £105m of the total. “I am delighted to welcome Peter Hendrikssen, our new regional manager who will be based at the British Consulate-General in Sydney. Peter will have a specific focus on helping our businesses to increase exports across Australia and New Zealand. He will also play an integral role in supporting our strategy to support companies to increase sales outside Northern Ireland by up to £3.1bn by 2021.” Australia represents the eighth location (after Hong Kong, above) to be announced as part of Invest NI’s commitment to expand its international presence to help companies to grow exports.


MOY PARK ‘LINES OUT’ WITH ULSTER RUGBY Pictured are Moy Park Director of Business Karen Kelso, Charles Piutau, Wiehahn Herbst, and Jared Payne.

PANI AWARDS CELEBRATE BEST OF INDUSTRY This year’s Publicity Association of Northern Ireland Awards, held at the Culloden Hotel, saw Belfast-based agency Genesis pick up 22 awards including the evening’s top prize for the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland’s Farm Safety campaign. ICAN’s work with West Coast Cooler picked up gold in both Best Outdoor Innovation and Best Mixed Media Campaign categories, while shopper marketing agency mxb took home the top prize in the Best Magazine Campaign category.



reland’s leading poultry brand Moy Park has ‘teamed up’ with Ulster Rugby as its official poultry supplier for the 2017/2018 season. Marking the third year of the company’s partnership with Ulster Rugby, the renewal will see Moy Park provide the team with protein-rich chicken as part of its nutritional regime. “Over the years, we have developed a really successful and mutually beneficial relationship with Ulster Rugby,” said Karen Kelso, director of Business, Moy Park. “One of Moy Park’s brand values is ‘goodness’ – not only goodness in food and nutrition but goodness in

terms of health and wellbeing, and we recognise how important it is to be active as part of a healthy lifestyle - as well as the important role protein plays in an athlete’s development. We know we share this ethos with Ulster Rugby, which makes our ongoing partnership a great fit. “Going forward, we will maximise extensive branding and advertising opportunities, which includes in-stadium advertising as well as becoming Ulster Rugby’s digital advertising partner – enabling us to reach thousands of Ulster Rugby fans with the Moy Park brand message.”



utella, worth €6.8m, is moving into the biscuits category for the first time in the UK and Ireland, following a fantastic trial period and tremendous success in global markets. The launch is supported by a €642,816 multimedia campaign spanning TV, videoon-demand and social. A full suite of PoS solutions will be made available for retailers to order from Ferrero’s dedicated trade website, www.yourperfectstore. com. Available as a single serve or multipack of six, Nutella B-Ready features a light, crunchy wafer shell, creamy Nutella filling and puffed wheat crispies in an individually wrapped bar. “Nutella B-ready is a complementary addition to the Ferrero range, offering shoppers more ‘sweet snacking’ solutions

throughout the day,” said Levi Boorer, customer development director. “We see B-ready as the ideal mid-morning snack, containing fewer than 120 calories, while other products - like Kinder Bueno - are much more suited to post lunch snacking. “Our initial UK trial has proven incredibly successful. We ranged at the till in a selection of convenience stores and Nutella B-ready ranked as the fourth best performing sweet snacking line during the period.”

Flahavan’s has signed a new deal with Lisburn-road based healthy eatery Tony & Jen’s to become its official oat supplier. The contract will see Flahavan’s supply over one tonne of its oats across the next six months to Tony and Jen’s, as well as the addition of a new Flahavan’s oat-based dish to the Tony & Jen’s menu – Oats of the Month. “In our role as official oat supplier, we will also have extensive branding opportunities on-site in the restaurant, as well as implementing an extensive digital marketing strategy to promote the partnership,” said Moya Verling, brand manager from Flahavan’s Porridge.


Linwoods has signed a deal to sponsor Ulster Hockey’s youth programmes until 2019. The new partnership between Ulster Hockey and the family-owned business in Armagh reinforces Linwoods’ commitment to supporting youth sport in the Province; a common goal for both organisations, and together they will help increase the quality and quantity of hockey throughout Ulster. “We see the importance in investing in our young people in sport and encouraging active lifestyles, so it is a pleasure for us to be partnering with Ulster Hockey to help deliver these exciting tournaments,” said Sarah Shimmons, head of Marketing at Linwoods. 35


BUSHMILLS TARGETS WIDER MARKET WITH RED BUSH LAUNCH B ushmills Irish Whiskey has launched Red Bush, the latest addition to the company’s range of malt-rich, blended whiskeys. Matured in bourbon casks for a refined and balanced flavour, the new launch aims to appeal to both bourbon enthusiasts and those new to Irish whiskey. “While we’ve been innovating with our aged whiskeys for centuries, we’re excited to embark on a journey with the Millennial drinker,” says Colum Egan, master distiller at The Old Bushmills Distillery. “Maturing the whiskey exclusively in first fill bourbon barrels

creates a mildly sweet and extremely smooth spirit that will resonate with frequent bourbon fans and first time Irish whiskey drinkers.” Red Bush is described as a smooth blend of triple distilled Irish single malt and fine Irish grain whiskey. On the nose, the amber spirit offers intense aromas of toasted oak and vanilla. The palate is medium bodied with hints of caramel and nutty flavours. It is a balanced, accessible Irish whiskey with a subtle sweet finish, drawing new consumers to the character and flavour profile unique to Bushmills Irish Whiskey.



itness blogger Tiffany Brien and SHS Group Head of Business Brendan Loughran picked Belfast’s Claire Crowe as the lucky winner of the Bottlegreen Lite Up Your Life competition prize in association with Down Royal. Crowe is the lucky winner of a package of goodies including six months’ membership to Down Royal Racecourse

and Gym Co, training sessions with Tiffany and six sessions with Paddy McGurgan Makeup, in addition to a Make-up Forever hamper. She also had a day out at the Down Royal Festival of Racing, where SHS Group sponsored the Grade 2 WKD Hurdle, Northern Ireland’s Champion Hurdle which always attracts the Cheltenham hopefuls.

Crémant de Loire Blanc Brut AOP, £8.99

Rhône, Châteauneufdu-Pape AOP, £13.99



ith the festive season full of reasons to celebrate, from special dinners and family gatherings to Christmas parties for friends, Lidl has launched a wine range offering something for every occasion. Whether looking to delight your hosts with a Grand Cru, pop open some Prosecco for party guests or serve an award-winning Champagne to toast the New Year in style, the discount retailer has it covered. Every bottle is carefully selected to offer both quality and value, rated and graded by independent Master of Wine Richard Bampfield. Lidl, meanwhile, offers a growing assortment of over 80 wines available throughout the year, including the Cimarosa range of New World wines and its seasonally changing Lidl Wine Cellar collection.



opeland Gin has launched a limitededition gin infused with spiced apple and blackcurrants for the Christmas season. Gareth Irvine, who founded Copeland


Gin a year ago, says the new gin reflects Northern Ireland’s reputation as a producer of quality apples, including Armagh Bramleys; one of just three local products to have achieved EU protected status. “It made sense to build on this reputation with an apple-infused product for the festive season,” said Irvine. “It’s a warming and refreshing drink that works particularly well in a gin and tonic with a stick of cinnamon and orange.” Copeland Gin is a unique handcrafted

infusion of natural fruits from Northern Ireland combined with the company’s premium gin. The botanicals in the gin base have been carefully selected to complement the local fruit which is sourced from farmers in Co Down. The new gin is the company’s third product. It launched two fruit infused gins last year – Raspberry and Mint and Rhuberry, made from rhubarb and blackberries, all 37.8% ABV. Raspberry and Mint has been listed by Marks and Spencer, across its 18 local stores.



Brendan Crealey, managing director of ITS


idden dangers lurk in every workplace, but some sectors are more susceptible to accidents than others, including food manufacturers. Some are obvious such as the dangers posed by untidy workspaces or when employees must handle hazardous materials or use cutting machines. Others however, are less so, such as the dangers associated with entering ‘confined spaces’ in which it is thought many food manufacturers could be operating without even realising it. Portadown-based Industry Training Services (ITS), Northern Ireland’s largest health and safety training facility, reports a huge surge in demand from agri-food firms for training of staff entering such spaces. “A confined space is anywhere that is considered substantially enclosed where injury can occur through, for example, a lack of oxygen or by inhaling a hazardous substance,” says Brendan Crealey, managing director of ITS. “It is a major issue, therefore, for the agrifood and farming sectors given the often poisonous gases that are emitted during the production process and the type of

equipment that they are using.” In 2016 alone, ITS delivered confined spaces training to almost 350 people – marking a 50% rise in candidate numbers in just two years - as realisation increased among food and drink manufacturing companies. It is not hard to see why demand is growing, as awareness increases of the associated risks, which can include serious injury or, in extreme cases, death. The financial penalties for noncompliance can also be considerable. Last year, the Health and Safety Executive fined a food waste disposal and recycling firm in Stoke-on-Trent £250,000 after three employees were overcome by toxic gases, including hydrogen sulphide, and a reduced oxygen atmosphere in an animal waste facility. The agency also stepped in when a worker died while trying to fix an industrial cooker at an animal rendering and food waste recycling firm in Staffordshire, fining the business £660,000. Brendan said the issue was becoming more prevalent among food manufacturers in part due to an increased consumer demand for goods that have been

produced in facilities with a high standard of hygiene and cleanliness. “To keep up with hygiene standards, the equipment used in the making of food and drink needs to be cleaned regularly,” says Crealey. “This often involves people physically having to enter machinery which in many cases feature hard to reach or confined spaces. “There are however, simple steps those in the industry can take to prevent accidents or reduce the severity of any possible injuries. “For example, the level of oxygen, toxic gas and dust in the air are all risk factors that must be considered before entering a confined space. Above all, nobody should enter such a space without full prior training.” Since it was formed in 2001, ITS has provided training to more than 50,000 people, and has delivered confined spaces training to some of Northern Ireland’s best-known food and drinks firms. The firm has operated from a purpose built 10-acre site just off the M1 motorway since 2015. 37




ith nine out of 10 customers calling for a plastic-free aisle according to a poll commissioned by campaign group A Plastic Planet (, July 2017), it is more important than ever for food producers to consider the green credentials of their packaging. As we approach Christmas, our gastronomical consumption hits astronomical heights, meaning our food packaging waste is nothing short of substantial. Here at Priory Press Packaging, or PPP as we like to call ourselves, we believe it is a shared responsibility between us as packaging experts and our client food producers to provide a sustainable packaging solution. So how can you capture the customers’ discerning eye while not compromising on quality? We know that our customers have customers too, and they’re becoming increasingly conscious about their

packaging waste and the pressure being placed on them by local authorities to reduce their refuse. We’re also under no illusions here that our packaging will eventually end up in that customer’s bin. This means we’ve invested to ensure we can produce premium packaging without the worry of recycling repercussions. All of our carton board packaging is 95% biodegradable, and 100% recyclable. The 5% that cannot be recycled is for packaging that has been window-patched. But we’ve already got that covered as we’ve sourced biodegradable window-patch film for one of our customers, and we’re happy to make a habit of it for other customers if it means reducing waste. The board that we print on is sustainably sourced and FSC Certified, our inks are natural and soy-based and our sealants are water-based. If that isn’t enough reassurance, our printing plates are chemistry free. We’ve eradicated unnecessary chemical consumption, rendering our printing plates completely recyclable. Finally, our printing machines are powered by renewable energy through Go Power. This all means that quality does not take

a back seat. In our BRC AA certified facility, we design print and produce packaging which is as traceable as a fingerprint, with all the finishing touches you may need – window patching, in-house hot foiling, UV varnish and embossing. We’ve adapted our processes and packaging to be environmentally friendly, not just because it’s a necessity for some of our customers, but an amenity to all of our customers. We’re delighted that they can say with confidence that their packaging is sourced from an environmentally and ethically-considerate company. Believe us when we say carton board is the way forward folks, and you heard it here first. So, do you need moreish mince pie packaging that pops on the shelf – where the only guilty after thought for your customer is the calories? Then consult PPP.


Alan Davison and Graham Davison, joint managing directors of Davison Canners, are pictured with Chris McQuay, deputy area director, HSBC and Lauren Hughes relationship manager, HSBC.


orthern Ireland food processor Davison Canners has announced a multi-million-pound expansion, which has helped create 50 jobs. The family-run firm, which is based in Portadown, has renovated its on-site production facilities, invested in equipment and added additional products as part of the major investment, supported by a £3.1m financial package from HSBC. The completed expansion has brought all production in house and staff numbers up from 10 to 60. The investment has further enabled Davison Canners to expand its product range to include a new line of shelf ready, hot eat desserts for the retail and food service sectors in Britain, Ireland and further afield. Following the investment and launch of the new dessert range, the business has won contracts with several high-profile retailers including Booths in the north of England and Aldi stores in the UK and Ireland. Turnover is now expected to double to £10m next year.


People on the move... IN ASSOCIATION WITH...


lster University Business School has enlisted the help of a global expert in food marketing, Professor Thomas Kennedy, as part of its new Agri-Food Business Development Centre, aimed at addressing a shortfall in skills and encouraging innovation in Northern Ireland’s biggest industry.

The agri-food sector contributes £4bn to the local economy and employs over 21,000 people. Prof Mark Durkin, executive dean at the university’s business school, notes that over 40% of workers do not have qualifications, presenting challenges for the industry. Philadelphia-based Professor Tom Kennedy, who has 25 years’ experience with US agri-food businesses, has been brought in as the centre’s first Entrepreneur in Residence, helping to forge ties with industry and mentor staff, students and industry professionals in areas such as marketing and business strategy. “Professor Tom Kennedy is internationally respected for his expertise in the areas of food marketing, selling strategies, agribusiness, supply chain, food safety and security, and business strategy and management,” said Prof Durkin. “His experience both in the food industry and as an educator, including five years as a Visiting Professor at Ulster University, will make a major contribution to enabling our local government, businesses and agri-food sector employees to think and act in a more entrepreneurial way.” UU Business School has plans to recruit four more professors in the area of agri-food business to help support the work of the new centre.



Pictured are Dr Lynsey Hollywood, Professor Tom Kennedy and Professor Una McMahon-Beattie.



nited Feeds has expanded its nutrition team, in response to the company’s continuing business growth. David Johnston from Portaferry, a graduate from Queen’s University Belfast with a BSc Hons in Agricultural Technology, is currently finishing a PhD focusing on homegrown protein ingredients in dairy cow diets including field beans and red clover silage. This is being carried out at AFBI Hillsborough David Johnston and Queen’s University Belfast. Johnston comes from a family background in dairy production, and has a keen interest in beef and sheep farming.


eorge McQuitty has been appointed business services assistant at Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry. In his role, McQuitty will work as part of NI Chamber’s Business Services team, providing support in the planning and delivery of a busy schedule of business support programmes and events ranging from networking initiatives to the Learn Grow Excel suite of programmes. He previously worked in HR managing internal and external recruitment for a range of major UK firms. Prior to this, he held a position in PwC with the data management team.

George McQuitty

Unit 2, 1 Edgewater Road, Belfast Harbour, Belfast BT3 9JQ Tel: +44 28 9077 0999 Fax: +44 28 9078 1172



To see your product featured in Shelf Life, contact Mark Glover at or Tel: 028 9026 4267



errero has invested in new products across its brands this Christmas, including advent calendars and new boxed chocolate products. Ferrero’s seasonal boxed offering includes Ferrero Rocher, Ferrero Collection, Raffaello and Thorntons. Ferrero Golden Gallery will feature two new flavours in time for Christmas, with Tenderly Biancoretti (white chocolate praline with a crunchy almond filling) and Delicious (smooth dark chocolate in a crispy shell) added to both the 206g and 389g boxes. Thorntons Continental experienced exceptional sales at Christmas 2016 leading to triple digit growth. Building on this success, Thorntons Continental will launch a premium Dark variant. Two new incremental boxed products include Thorntons Seasonal Selection, a small Christmas-themed box of popular flavours including limited edition flavours and Thorntons Christmas Selection, which includes popular favourites Winter Fudge, Vanilla Snowflake and a festive Christmas Tree. For kids, Kinder Joy will return this Christmas with new collectable winter eggs, alongside the Kinder Mix Advent Calendar and The Snowman and The Snowdog Advent Calendar.


urren Balsamics, a local producer of natural fruit infused vinegars, has launched an innovative product for Christmas. The Richhill-based company has added a new gold addition to its successful range of Italian influenced white balsamics. The new balsamic features 24 carat gold leaf in a classic 200ml bottle and is available in a special gift box with unique LED back lighting. “I wanted to do something really different for the festive season, a delicious product with a bit of sparkle,” said chef Susie Hamilton Stubber, founder and managing director of Burren Balsamics (featured on p42). “It’s a great way to bring colour to festive dishes.” The new product was launched at the recent Spirit of Christmas Show at Olympia in London. “We did extremely well at the show,” she said. “Feedback was excellent, and we gained good business from existing customers and signed up an encouraging number of new sales.”




ircubbin-based Glastry Farm, a producer of luxury ice cream and low-fat sorbets, has launched a new Christmas line, Christmas Pudding Ice Cream. “Our new Christmas Pudding flavour is a response to requests from top chefs in hotels we supply in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland for something deliciously seasonal Christmas Pudding Ice Cream from Glastry Farm in for the upcoming festivities,” Northern Ireland said Will Taylor, founder and managing director of Glastry Farm Ice Cream. “What we’ve done is to use our multi-awardwinning vanilla bean ice cream as a base and then drizzle our home-made Christmas pudding through it for a really superb flavour. “While it’s initially aimed at foodservice, we’d certainly consider making it available to retailers in Northern Ireland and the Republic, probably next year.”


IN THE HOT SEAT TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF I have an extremely diverse background. I was brought up in Fermanagh, taught to cook by my mother and, while working as an admin assistant in London, I used to cook at parties and lunches. After marrying, we came home to Northern Ireland, where I have been involved with the Pony Club, Riding for the Disabled and then worked in the local vets. I took the plunge and formed Burren Balsamics in 2013. WHAT DOES A TYPICAL DAY INVOLVE My morning starts with walking my dogs which gives me time to think about the day ahead. I try and hit the paperwork for an hour or so before going out to help with the production – infusing and straining the fruit, tasting, bottling and labelling. I always cook something fresh in the evening and we sit down together. WHAT HAS BEEN THE HIGHLIGHT OF YOUR CAREER TO DATE? I have had a wonderful year, receiving five stars for products in the Great Taste awards, and then winning gold at the Blas na hÉireann awards, along with the Best in Armagh, the Shane McArdle Award for the Best in Ulster, and finally the Best Artisan Product. WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT YOUR JOB? This has to be customer satisfaction. To see the unexpected pleasure in customers’ faces when they try our products. The excitement of creating new flavours and the experimentation and development of recipes to pair with them. WHAT IS YOUR MOST DIFFICULT TASK? Time management. There are never enough hours in the day. WHAT IS THE BEST ADVICE YOU HAVE EVER RECEIVED? A great friend says to me every so often: ‘Life is not a dress rehearsal. Make the best of every day’. WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST GRIPE Paying a lot of money for mediocre food. Ingredients are exceptionally good now so I think that there is no excuse. WHAT TALENT WOULD YOU LIKE TO HAVE? I would love to be a better gardener. I think I am probably a bit of a 42

IN THE HOT SEAT SUSIE HAMILTON STUBBER, OWNER, BURREN BALSAMICS disappointment to my mother-in-law and sister-in-law, who are both fantastic gardeners. WHAT ARE YOUR FUTURE PLANS/ AMBITIONS? To build our market and export our products beyond the UK and Ireland. The company has come so far in the last few years, but we must continue to look ahead. WHOM DO YOU MOST ADMIRE? I truly admire all those who have succeeded through adversity – those who battle their demons to achieve their dreams. WHERE IS YOUR FAVOURITE PLACE?

Having just come back from a lovely holiday with exceptional friends in South Africa, it has to be towards the top of the list. I am a home bird really and Fermanagh would be at the very top. WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE FOOD PRODUCT? I just love our own Armagh Bramley apple, and the Blackberry and Thyme balsamic. They are so incredibly versatile. The new whites are exceptional products, and we are really looking forward to developing them to their full potential. HOW DO YOU RELAX? I love to walk my dogs, or go for a good hack on my lovely horse. A good night in a lovely restaurant with great friends.

Profile for Helen Wright

Ulster Grocer December 2017  

Ulster Grocer December 2017

Ulster Grocer December 2017  

Ulster Grocer December 2017