Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster is set to lead a business mission from the local food sector to London’s International Food Exhibition (IFE) 2009.
The Minister will visit the major food show, which takes place from 15 –18 March 2009, where over 20 local companies will be represented in an Invest Northern Ireland delegation.
She made her announcement following a visit to Erne Eggs, Lisnaskea, where she welcomed a £2million investment by the company, in conjunction with two food companies from the Republic of Ireland.
A new company, Ready Egg Products, is a joint venture between Lisnaskea-based Erne Eggs, Irish Egg Products of Kilcoole, County Wicklow and Greenfield Foods, Smithborough, County Monaghan.
Ready Egg Products, which already employs 46 people and plans to recruit a further eight by the end of this year, is providing liquid and peeled, boiled eggs to foodservice customers in Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and Great Britain. It aims to achieve a substantial growth in sales outside Northern Ireland over the next 12 months. A further £1million is being invested by Erne Eggs.
Arlene Foster said: “This investment is another important boost for food processing in Northern Ireland, which is our largest manufacturing industry. Ready Eggs is now the fourth biggest producer of egg products in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland.
“It consolidates Fermanagh’s position as a significant and very cost-effective centre of quality and innovation-led food production in Northern Ireland.”
The Minister believes there are many opportunities for Northern Ireland’s food exports. She said: “As consumer concern grows about the origin of food and drink, there are substantial and developing business opportunities for Northern Ireland processors in Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland.
“As part of its commitment to develop external and export sales, the new company, Ready Egg Products, will launch its products from Invest NI’s exhibition stand at IFE in London in March.
“The joint venture will also introduce new technology for market sectors such as baking and convenience foods which are continuing to grow strongly, particularly in Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland.”
Charles Crawford, Managing Director of Ready Eggs, commenting on the project, said: “Ready Eggs pulls together the experience, expertise and market knowledge of three established and successful companies in egg production and creates a critical mass for accelerated growth in Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland in terms of existing products and to develop new ideas for these markets.
“At the heart of this investment is experience of the egg business stretching over 30 years. It creates an operation focussed on the supply of quality egg products with a strong commitment to R&D for customers in the food and foodservice industries throughout the British Isles.
“For instance, as well as peeled and liquid eggs, the plant will be able to separate and supply egg whites to the bakery sector.”