Lisburn company sells ground coffee to the US

Oct 10, 2007

Following its participation on an Invest Northern Ireland trade mission to the US, Johnsons Coffee has been listed by the Tree of Life natural and organic foods specialist retail and distribution business. As a result, natural and gourmet food enthusiasts in the US will soon be able to enjoy the distinctive flavour of coffee roasted by the Lisburn-based company.

“Gaining a Tree of Life listing is a major breakthrough for us in the world’s biggest coffee market,” says Philip Mills, Johnson’s Business Director. “Tree of Life is the premier wholesale distributor and marketer of natural and organic foods in the south-eastern United States with sales in excess of $30 million. It has now expanded across the US, providing us with an enormous marketing opportunity.

“We used the Invest NI trade mission to Washington in May as a springboard to the wider US market including Florida, where I travelled to meet senior buyers from Tree of Life. What we now have to do is to build on this relationship and develop the opportunity that this provides to sell our distinctive range of coffee products to the business and its network of distributors.

“We’ve found the practical advice and funding support available through Invest NI’s Passport to Export programme to be invaluable as we seek to expand our business outside Northern Ireland,” he adds.

Welcoming the success of Johnson’s in the US, Alan Hingston, Invest NI’s Director of Trade,  says: “This clearly demonstrates how a smaller Northern Ireland company can compete successfully in even the most sophisticated markets, in this case the US coffee scene, by offering something different.

“Johnsons is among a cluster of smaller food companies which are using our extensive knowledge of the US market and our well-established mission programme to develop business there. Among other successful companies are Fivemiletown Creamery and Classic Mineral Water Company in Lurgan.

“Our research shows that substantial opportunities are developing for our companies in the US because of growing demand from consumers in niche markets such as natural, gourmet, ethnic and specialty foods. Over the years, we’ve sought to facilitate companies by targeted initiatives including our links with Bord Bia, food sector trade missions, participation at major food exhibitions and marketing courses at St Joseph’s Food University in Pittsburg.

“As a result, Invest NI has substantial expertise in food marketing in the US and access to a range of contacts,” he adds.

Johnsons Coffee is a family business that began roasting coffee in the early 1900s, long before the mechanical blender, the liquid cooled roaster, or foil-sealed packaging had been invented.

The company imports the highest grades of pure Arabica coffees from around the globe including Colombia, Kenya, and Indonesia. Coffees are blended and roasted on a daily basis before being packed to meet the exact needs of individual caterers (either pre ground or whole bean), and for retailers trade. In addition to the Johnson’s brand, the company also blends and roast Bellagio bean coffee for the foodservice espresso sector.

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