Further examples of the market-focused innovation underpinning our impressive food and drink sector will be showcased at the Lunch! trade show in London for the ‘food-on-the-move’ market which opens today.
We are assisting a group of companies to demonstrate new product innovation at this important show for the buoyant deli, café, coffee house, petrol retail forecourt market in the UK and further afield. Once again we are being supported by Invest NI’s Food and Drink division to help companies, both large and small and across all food and drink sectors, to bidfor business in ‘food-on-the-move’, a category now worth upwards of £20 billion annually.
It’s clearly a huge and fast growing market in which businesses and shoppers are continually seeking different tastes.
Among companies launching original taste experiences for consumers are Irwin’s Bakery from Portadown, Northern Ireland’s largest independent baker, McColgan’s Quality Foods in Strabane, Bailies Coffee Roasters in Belfast, and Nuthin’ Butt juices from Lisburn.
Irwin’s, a longstanding Food NI member, is expanding its business base through a significant investment in the ‘food-on-the-move’ market in the development of a completely new product range with an attractive branding. It is launching Fillsomes, a strikingly branded range of free-range egg and potato based handheld snacks for health conscious shoppers in particular. This is another important diversification based on this progressive and successful company’s longstanding expertise in baking a wide range of breads, morning goods, cakes and biscuits. I am looking forward to tasting the new range which combines some of Northern Ireland’s iconic ingredients with Irwin’s flair and skills.
Another successful Northern Ireland family business, McColgan’s Quality Foods in Strabane, one of the town’s biggest employers, is branching out into vegan snacks with the launch of a premium sausage roll that’s soya-based. Based on all the debate about whether a vegan product should actually be called a sausage roll it is a product which is right on trend.
Bailie’s Coffee Roasters in Lisburn is tasting its latest micro lot coffees from Columbia in particular. Nuthin Butt, an AM Brands business, is introducing a range of healthy plant-based juices. Plant products, as many readers will be aware, is a fast developing market as consumers seek snacks that are both healthier and nutritious.
Another demonstration of Northern Ireland’s emergence as a centre of innovation in plant-based foods came last week when two local companies fared exceptionally in the annual Nourish Awards, reckoned to be the toughest and most exacting competition for health foods. That Protein, an innovation-led business run by vegetarian campaigner and local entrepreneur Darlene McCormick, struck gold and silver for its brown rice and raw cacao organic super protein food, a tremendous achievement for the Belfast business.
And Jacquelyn Stewart’s Squeeze Wheatgrass juice shotsgained a commendation for Wild Power Wheatgrass shot with Blackcurrant juice and a merit award for Wheatgrass Shot with Beetroot and Blackcurrant. Jacquelyn grows and processes her own wheatgrass in Warrenpoint. My congratulations to both entrepreneurs in their success in the most important awards for plant-based foods.
And my very best wishes too to all the companies taking part in our Taste the Greatness presentation at Lunch! at ExCel in London.