Big Pot Company, the Cookstown producer of a range of fresh soups, including gluten-free and low-fat products, has been assisted by Invest Northern Ireland to win business from Makro, its first sales in Britain.
The new contract, the result of a partnership with Nicco Foods of Cheshire, has led to Big Pot supplying four soup lines to 30 Makro depots in Great Britain. Invest NI facilitated the business relationship between Big Pot and Nicco Foods.
Makro, the leading European wholesaler, has placed an initial order for Big Soup’s tomato and basil, vegetable broth, French onion, and carrot and coriander products.
Big Pot, founded by directors Alison Seaney and Colin Monaghan in 2009, is based in the Loughry food business centre at the College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise. The company teamed up with Nicco last year to help sell and distribute its soups to retail and wholesale outlets outside Northern Ireland.
The new Makro business was announced by Mr Monaghan and welcomed by Maynard Mawhinney, Invest NI Food Director, who said: “This is very good news for a company which has been focused on selling outside Northern Ireland from its formation in 2009.
“The link up with Nicco Foods is also another excellent example of the work of Invest NI in assisting companies to explore opportunities in Britain and the Republic of Ireland through collaboration with an experienced marketing business.
“Invest NI has worked with Big Pot and Nicco Foods in identifying opportunities in the important GB market and in assisting Big Pot to exploit business there.”
Mr Monaghan said: “We’re extremely enthusiastic about the new business with Makro and appreciative of the advice and sales support from such a successful and well-connected food business as Nicco.
“Our business in Ireland has been going really well and we hope to see a significant expansion in the stores stocking the soups in the near future. We’ve been working flat out to meet the demand particularly during promotional activity.
“The new deal with Makro gives us a solid platform for further growth in Britain particularly with smaller retailers and foodservice organisations such as hotels and restaurants. It’s all immensely exciting and looking good for the future.”
David Nickisson, managing director of Nicco Foods, is confident that there’s a good market in GB for Big Pot soups: “The Makro contract follows presentations to several leading retailers in Britain and is an important breakthrough for the company and our overall marketing drive. What helped in sealing the deal was the quality and taste of the Big Pot soups. Indeed all the companies were impressed by the products.
“Soup is no longer a seasonal product. The recession and pressure on incomes has led to soup being regarded as a healthy, convenient, value for money and filling food option particularly among consumers with a fixed income. Big Pot’s products offer nutritional benefits such as being low-fat and gluten-free. We are confident that there’s scope in Britain for such quality products.”
Big Pot uses raw materials sourced from neighbouring farms and is focused on creating nutritious, healthy and gourmet soups. In addition to retail products, Big Pot produces a range of fresh handmade soups, sauces and stew in five litre pots for foodservice customers such as Kerry Foodservice and other delis and coffee shops.