Passengers on Air Tahiti Nui flights to and from as well as around the exotic islands of French Polynesia are now enjoying artisan popcorn from Belfast.
Cloud Corn, based in east Belfast, has begun supplying the airline serving international centres as well as hundreds of islands with its increasingly popular range of hand blended popcorn snacks.
The contract followed the Belfast artisan company’s recent participation in a major food trade show in Hamburg.
The popcorn range was launched in March by Michael Heaslip, founder and managing director of Food Stories, a Food NI member company. Michael founded Food Stories in 2014 to provide marketing and distribution services to smaller food companies in Northern Ireland and has since launched a number of his own brand products, including artisan Cloud Corn.
Explaining his decision to launch Cloud Corn, he says: “The growth of popcorn in the UK has been phenomenal over the past five years. We saw an opportunity in the local market and also outside the UK and Ireland and decided to develop a range that combines established and unique savoury flavours such as our Sweet Chilli BBQ popcorn.
“We developed a specific recipe to pair with craft beers and the sweet chilli goes really well with many of the excellent brews now being produced.
“We knew from the start of the venture that the popcorn market in Britain and Ireland has become highly competitive and that we had to look for business abroad for sustainable growth. We decided, for instance, that all the nutritional information on the packaging should be in six languages – English, French, Spanish, German, Dutch and Italian.
“As a result of this strategic focus, we’ve been taking part in major trade shows, assisted by Invest NI, in Europe and further afield and have developed an extensive network of good contacts, now including Air Tahiti Nui, certainly our most remote customer to date. We’ll have to start thinking about including the local Tahitian language in our packs in the future.
“The Tahiti order is an encouraging breakthrough for us at such an early stage in our development. We provided samples at the request of their buyer and an order followed shortly afterwards. The business is a great endorsement of the quality and flavours of our popcorn,” Michael adds.
The company, which has already signed up for SIAL food expo in Paris in October, has also won business with retailers in Canada, France, and Spain.
Cloud Corn has created a comprehensive range of sharing bags and smaller packs for its existing three-strong range – Salty, Sweet and salty, Sweet Chilli BBQ. The company, which employs four people, created the recipes for the snacks from extensive market research.
The popcorn is also gluten-free, high in fibre, suitable for vegans and made only from natural ingredients.
Picture:Getting ready for Tahiti, left, Jonny Murphy, local accounts manager, Elizabeth Curdy, operations manager, and Michael Heaslip, managing director, Cloud Corn, Belfast