What a marvellous occasion the recent Ulster Grocer’s Ball proved to be. But then it’s always a great opportunity to acclaim the local industry’s achievements and to network with other attendees. Our industry really is very dynamic and innovative. I congratulate the Ulster Grocer team on organising such a spectacular event that showcased and recognised the industry’s huge contribution to the local economy.
This year Food NI was delighted to sponsor the first category to focus on the creativity and commitment of our smaller food and drink businesses – the Best Artisan Marketing Campaign.
There’s been an immensely encouraging growth in smaller food and drink businesses, including many start up enterprises, over the past decade, several of which have gone on to win major awards and, much more importantly, sales in Britain and the Republic of Ireland.
The first winner of the Artisan category was Mange Tout Deli in Downpatrick, an ambitious business run by husband and wife team chef Franck and Tina Brétéché. The business started life as a quality café and has diversified into the production of the delicacies popular with diners for market shoppers and then for independent retailers.
The original and premium products are all hand crafted by Franck, a native of Nantes in France who worked in boulangeries and restaurants there before marriage to Tina brought him to Northern Ireland.
He gained experience here with the talented Simon Dougan of Yellow Door, before setting up in business with Tina. As well as delicious French patisserie, Mange Tout has won widespread recognition for the quality and originality of its breads, quiches, pizzas, pies and fruit tarts.
The couple decided to move into the wholesale of the products as a way of growing the business and developed a thoughtful marketing strategy to increase awareness of the brand and products by launching at markets, especially the successful monthly one in Comber. The business has also showcased the products at St George’s, the Twilight markets in Belfast and at the recently launched Saintfield and Downpatrick markets.
Very positive feedback from market shoppers encouraged the couple to pitch for business from local retailers including several symbol shops. They all recognised the quality and originality of Franck’s recipes and listed them. Business has been good in all the shops with the Mange Tout range.
Mange Tout, therefore, is an excellent example of a smaller food producer with innovative and outstandingly tasty products that’s growing its business successfully by implementing a focused marketing strategy that’s within its resources and capacity.
Mange Tout has sought steady progress rather than being tempted to over stretch itself by moving ahead of its capabilities and resources too quickly. As a result, business is growing steadily. This has encouraged the enterprise to explore other expansion opportunities.
Food NI recognises the importance of helping smaller companies develop the capability and capacity for faster growth, and it was great to see other local companies, such as Peppup, Irish Black Butter and Cavanagh Eggs, vying for awards. Proof if it were needed that we have some very exciting and increasingly professional smaller business that are benefiting from the marketing initiatives that we are now developing.