Customers at Costa Coffee stores in Prague and other parts of the Czech Republic are now enjoying healthy Pinkfinch fruit crisps from Food Stories in Northern Ireland.
The deal to supply 50 Costa cafes in the Czech Republic is the latest in a string of significant export successes signed by Michael Heaslip, managing director of Food Stories, which is based in Belfast. It follows an agreement to supply Pinkfinch crisps to Hungary’s Wizz Air in Budapest. Costa is the world’s second biggest coffee chain.
Mr Heaslip, commenting on the Costa deal, the first success in the Czech Republic for the Belfast-based company, continues: “I attended a ‘meet the buyer’ event at the British Embassy in Prague in September 2018 run by the British Chamber of Commerce in the Czech Republic.
“Following from the event we made a number of retail and food service contacts that we have been developing over the past 12 months. The deal with Costa Coffee is a particularly exciting development for our business. The Costa Coffee brand in Czech Republic is run by Lagardère Travel Retail, one of the largest operators of food service and convenience retail outlets in the country. The company also has substantial business at airports in Europe, including Belfast International, and further afield.
“We are hopeful this initial listing will lead to an expansion of our business in the market and an opportunity to explore other markets in which Lagardère operates,” adds Mr Heaslip,
Food Stories, a Food NI member company, is now supplying Pinkfinch Apple Fruit Crisps and Banana Fruit Crisps directly to the Costa network.
Mr Heaslip continues: “We have had amazing support from the British Chamber of Commerce team in the Czech Republic. They have been proactive at identifying potential sales channels for our brands and have made a host of introductions. This listing would not have been possible without them.
“They see Pinkfinch as a fantastic brand offering crisps that are healthy and functional with attractive packaging, which matches the demand for healthy products and growing consciousness of consumers in Czech Republic.
“As a gluten free, nut free and vegan friendly product we also expect it to appeal to allergy sufferers,” he adds.
The company has come a long way from a start in the spare bedroom of his parents in 2014. He has grown sales of his innovative snacks – the company also produces Cloud Corn branded popcorn – throughout the UK, where customers include Sainsbury’s, in the Republic of Ireland, where he supplies Tesco Ireland, as well other parts of Europe and the Middle East.