NI Bakery Sector Rises to the Innovation Challenge

Two local food companies have shown that Northern Ireland’s bakery sector is rising to Asda’s UK-wide ‘innovation’ challenge by delivering high quality products which also offer consumers great value for money.

Steve’s Cakes in Antrim and Portadown-based Irwin’s Bakery were congratulated by Asda Chief Executive, Andy Clarke during his recent visit to Northern Ireland, after their products were identified as top selling lines in Asda’s revolutionary new ‘Chosen By You’ own-brand range .

Accounting for between £8-9billion in sales per year, Asda’s 3500-strong Chosen By You range is part of a £100million investment to improve product quality without impacting on prices for customers. Each product is selected after intensive quality benchmarking and independent taste-testing by more than 40,000 consumers throughout the UK.

Whoopie Pies, produced by Steve’s Cakes, is one of the top selling UK cake lines within Chosen by You – outselling other bakery product across Asda’s 377 stores. The new contract, which is worth £2million in sales for Steve’s Cakes, takes it from being a ‘local’ (NI) to a ‘national’ (UK) supplier to Asda, offering it even more scope for the future.

As NI’s leading independent bakery and an established national supplier to Asda, Irwin’s has also notched up a sizable slice of business thanks to Chosen By You with its top selling sliced white loaf, hotplate and morning bread ranges selected for the own-brand range. Having supplied two million branded products to Asda last year alone, innovation has always been key to Irwin’s success.
Highlighting how both Steve’s Cakes and Irwin’s are living up to the innovation challenge set by Asda, Andy Clarke said:

“This is a tremendous accolade for these companies as their success through our own brand national relaunch of Chosen By You proves they understand what our customers need and want. It also speaks volumes for the innovative spirit which is obviously a driving force in NI’s food industry and will hopefully inspire others within this crucially important sector to follow their lead.”

Michael Murphy, Commercial Director, Irwin’s Bakery commented: “Our aim is to give consumers a choice of breads that will suit their needs and preferences – and we’re delighted that our continued commitment to new product development and innovation is supported by retail partners such as Asda. Their ongoing support for regional producers and suppliers is hugely valuable.”

Stephen Gamble, Managing Director of Steve’s Cakes added: “The fact that Asda has a dedicated local sourcing team at Antrim has been a great asset, helping us build our business over the last five years and culminating in our success through Chosen By You. We look forward to developing this relationship further through new, innovative product development in the years ahead.”