Food Stories, the Northern Ireland producer of fruit crisps and popcorn, has won its first business in Kuwait. The Bangor-based company, a Food NI member, is to supply its crisps and popcorn to Saveco Supermarkets, one of the Middle East’s biggest supermarkets.
Food Stories, established by businessman Michael Heaslip in Bangor, is now on course to sell more than 100,000 bags annually.
The small company’s Pinkfinch fruit crisps are already listed in 1,200 supermarkets in the UK, Ireland and Europe. The crisps are made of real fruit treated in a vacuum-crisping process.
Food Stories also makes Cloud Corn popcorn. It will now send around 50,000 bags of both brands to Saveco Supermarket in Kuwait.
It has received support from InterTradeIreland’s Acumen programme and Mr Heaslip says funding from the body “gave us the opportunity to invest more time in developing sales, an option that would not have been otherwise available”.
He added: “We have a unique cooking process that maintains the quality of the fruit and vegetables. Parents that couldn’t persuade their kids to eat fruit and vegetables are now sending me thank you messages on social media.”
The Kuwait deal follows an exceptionally successful year for the company which saw new markets developed in Hungary, Sweden and the Czech Republic.
He formed Food Stories in 2014 as a distributor for Northern Ireland’s burgeoning artisan food industry and enjoyed considerable success for his local clients with independent retailers in particular.
Experience gained dealing with retailers led him to set up a production arm of the business and to invest in popcorn, a snack category in which he had considerable expertise.
Much of the firm’s exports have come from contacts made at trade shows.
Referring to the Pinkfinch fruit and veggie crisps, Mr Heaslip adds: “My aim was to develop a healthier crisp, one which could contribute to the five-a-day diet recommendation.
“The unique cooking process maintains the benefits of the fruits and vegetables and means, for example, that they are a healthier snack for children in particular. They are also based on real fruit, are also gluten-free and high in fibre.”
In addition to the Crispy Green Bean and Sugar Snap Pea, the Pinkfinch range includes Apple and Banana. Green Bean also won a UK Great Taste Award this year.