Banbridge-based coffee roaster Ristretto has been assisted by Invest Northern Ireland to develop new products for export. The company has recently secured its first business in the Republic and is now following up enquiries from Scotland.
The company, which gained UK Great Taste Awards last year for its ground coffee, was offered £20,156 of R&D support from Invest NI, including part funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), to produce 10 new coffee blends for the Republic of Ireland and GB markets.
Ristretto’s development of innovative espresso and filter blends for export is helping to build upon the company’s success in Northern Ireland, where it supplies leading coffee shops, hotels and restaurants and has won plaudits from top chefs for flavour and quality.
Carol Keery, Invest NI Director of Innovation, Research and Technology, said: “Ristretto is an excellent example of how a small manufacturing company can use R&D support to position itself for growth in markets outside Northern Ireland.
“The company recognises that investment in new product development is essential, particularly in fast moving consumer markets. This is a market-led investment in innovation that will strengthen substantially this progressive company’s appeal in its target markets.
“Invest NI worked with the company in developing and implementing this important strategic investment. Our work with Ristretto is a further example of our commitment to assist the growth in export markets of smaller companies in the agri-food industry.”
Mark Anderson, Ristretto Managing Director, said: “The new products were developed by us following extensive market research particularly in the Republic. This found that consumers there prefer a richer, fuller bodied coffee than in Northern Ireland.
“Invest NI reacted quickly and very positively to our request for advice and assistance by offering R&D support. This enabled to carry our extensive work with new blends and to tweak some of our existing products using our development roaster. Invest NI’s guidance and practical support has been very beneficial.
“Our success in Northern Ireland is based on our commitment to using high grade and ethically sourced beans and our practice of supplying customers with freshly roasted coffee. Our research in the Republic of Ireland and Great Britain indicates that these qualities appeal to consumers in both markets. Ethical sourcing, in particular, is now an important market trend. All our beans are sourced from fair trade suppliers in Brazil, Guatemala, El Salvador and India.
“We’ve trialled the new blends in the Republic of Ireland and have identified several potential distributors. Invest NI is also working with us to generate and develop leads in the Republic and Great Britain food sectors. We’ve some business with cafes and restaurants in the border counties of the Republic and are confident that sales will develop in other areas in the very near future,” he added.