A substantial investment in technology has enabled Glastry Farm Ice Cream, a Food NI member, to grow sales for luxury ice cream and healthy sorbets in Northern Ireland and especially in the Irish Republic.
The small company, based on a family farm near Kircubbin in Co Down, has used the technology and market knowledge to expand its range of healthier and delicious sorbets which are lower in fat and high in fibre. The first of the new sorbets, mango and passionfruit, was launched successfully in the Food NI Food Pavilion at the recent RUAS show in Balmoral Park.
The new sorbets join flavours such as apple schnapps, pear, zesty lemon, raspberry ruffle, blackcurrant, and prosecco and raspberry. They are, in addition, gluten, dairy and egg-free, and suitable for vegetarian and vegan diets. Additional health benefits include enhanced levels of antioxidants and Omega 3. The business also offers around 20 ice cream flavours.
Glastry Farm ice cream and sorbets are the brainchild of experienced dairy farmer Will Taylor, a former president of the Ulster Farmers’ Union, who set up the business in 2017 as part of diversification strategy to ensure the long-term sustainability of the 250-acre farm on the Ards Peninsula.
Mr Taylor continues: “Our sorbets are influenced by our experience in producing ice cream and also have the highest fruit content within the sector. Using advanced technology has resulted in our range becoming a market leader on the island of Ireland.”
The sorbets, which have already led to new business with hotels in the Republic, are the outcome of extensive market research by the company particularly into consumer buying attitudes in the UK and Ireland. Indeed, the small company’s growing success has been based on knowledge from expert market research since its launch. As a result, Glastry Farm has become market-focused and innovation-led.
“The low sugar/high fibre formulation of our sorbet range moves the product from being a palate cleanser between courses, especially in the hospitality sector, to a delicious dessert option,” Will explains.
“The additional higher levels of antioxidants and Omega 3 are a clear trend from our market research and the latest Mintel report on consumer trends 2025,” he adds. “Our new technology kit at Glastry and the technical expertise of our team have meant that it is difficult to distinguish the sorbets from our ice cream especially in terms of mouth feel and smoothness,” he says.
The new products are the latest outcome of a longstanding innovation project with the Food Technology Centre at the College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE) at Loughry Campus, near Cookstown. The link-up with CAFRE technical experts has been assisted by Innovation Vouchers from Invest NI.
The new products extend the application of the sorbets particularly in restaurants and cafes throughout Ireland, a key marketplace for the Kircubbin enterprise. New business has already been secured with a leading network of 11 boutique hotels there. “We have been supplying them since the Republic came out of lockdown through La Rousse Foods, the leading food distributor to hotels, cafes and other outlets there,” Will says.
Glastry Farm has been the home of the Taylor family for 150 years, and of a 300-strong pedigree Friesian/Holstein dairy herd that produces some of the richest and highest quality milk anywhere in Ireland from clover-rich pastures.
Will continues: “To high quality raw materials from our herd we add the best flavour ingredients we can source. These include 70 percent single origin Callebaut chocolate, real Madagascar Bourbon vanilla bean, real fruit pieces from Griffin Foods. The milk is transferred from the dairy plant to our processing facility on the farm daily and processed into dessert ice creams sold all over Ireland.
The enterprising business is also the outcome Nuffield Scholarship for Will to explore opportunities for the UK Agri-food. The study shaped the family’s thinking about its future, moving it from a milk production unit to a consumer focused farm business.
“A market research survey in 2005 – supported by the University of Ulster – pointed the way forward for us. Health and wellbeing became a priority, which meant natural foods rather than highly processed food with artificial ingredients. It also pointed towards fresh foods produced locally,” he adds. Research pinpointed developing opportunities among consumers for healthier products that offered reduced sugar, added vitamins and minerals from superfood, and featured “futuristic ingredients and rich flavour profiles”.
The ambitious company’s approach was also shaped by sustainability, the lowest food miles in the frozen sector, and assurance and control over its own farm milk.
As a result of its strategic focus, Glastry Farm now supplies many of the leading retailers and foodservice organisations on the island. In Northern Ireland, these include Henderson Wholesale SPAR and EUROSPAR grocery stores, and the Hastings Hotel Group.
A number of prestigious awards have also been secured from the UK Guild of Fine Food’s Great Taste and Blas na hEireann, the Irish National Food Awards.
Will: Will Taylor of Glastry Farm in Kircubbin with a prestigious Blas na hEireann award for one of his healthy and tasty sorbets