Food and Drink is a £5 billion industry in Northern Ireland and is the region’s largest manufacturer and a leading exporter. It’s a progressive industry based on family farms and fishing businesses as well as enterprising producers focused on original products for customers worldwide.
Food and Drink from Northern Ireland is enjoyed by customers in top hotels and high-end restaurants in Britain, France, the US, Singapore, Hong Kong and Dubai. Large retails chains such as Marks & Spencer, Albert Heijn, Carrefour, Waitrose, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Tesco also stock products from Northern Ireland.
Northern Ireland’s food and drink regularly features in global awards for outstanding taste including the UK Great Taste Awards, the World Cheese Awards, the International Wine and Spirit Competition Awards and the Blas na hÉireann, Irish Food and Drink Awards.
Invest NI’s Food & Drink Business Development Team can offer guidance on thousands of products from over 300 suppliers in Northern Ireland and can assist with introductions, sampling, menu development and much more.
Our Food & Drink Business Development Managers are helping companies increase business abroad by generating leads and setting up face–to–face interviews between the companies and retail and foodservice buyers.
Cookstown is one of the UK’s leading meat manufacturers, currently employing 880 employees in Northern Ireland and processing circa 25,000 pigs each week, supplying all of the UK’s major supermarkets and wholesale food suppliers.
The company recently became part of the KARRO Food Group, one of the UK’s leading pork processors with facilities across England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
The company is the leading producer of sausages, bacon, gammon, fresh pork and cooked meats for both Private Label and Northern Ireland’s Number 1 best selling brand Cookstown. The company supplies its high quality meat products to retail, foodservice and manufacturing customers across the UK and internationally.
Dale Farm is one of the leading dairy processors in the UK and Ireland and part of the United Dairy Farmers Group, Northern Ireland’s largest dairy co–operative. Dale Farm’s product offering includes an extensive selection of dairy goods – ranging from milk, cheese, butter and yogurts to desserts and ice–cream.
Within the UK and Ireland, Dale Farm supplies a wide range of dairy products to the retail and foodservice sectors under its own brand labels – Dale Farm, Dromona, Spelga, Rowan Glen, Fivemiletown, Dale Farm Ice Cream, Mullins Ice Cream and Loseley, as well as providing a broad range of retailer and foodservice own brand products.
The company exports to over 45 countries worldwide.
Dunbia is an established multinational food company operating across ten sites in the UK and Ireland and from sales offices throughout Europe.
The company prides itself on the relationships it has with its stakeholders and delivers the most efficient and effective supply chain from field to fork.
Dunbia launched its Butchery Academy in Northern Ireland in 2011. The Butchery Academy was launched to offer an attractive choice for school leavers and enables them to gain the skills needed to achieve a recognised accreditation, the NVQ Level 2 in Food Manufacture.
Irwin’s Bakery is Northern Ireland’s largest independent bakery which specialises in the production and distribution of traditional Irish breads across Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and Great Britain.
Irwin’s breads currently account for around 85% of all Irish breads sold in Great Britain, spearheaded by the multi–award winning Rankin Selection Irish breads range, which it makes in conjunction with celebrity Irish chef, Paul Rankin.
In 2006, Irwin’s acquired traditional–style cake and tray–bake specialist, ‘Howell House’ to introduce a specialist home bakery category. Irwin’s invested significantly in the division in order to enhance its artisan capabilities and identity, including a strategic rebrand to ‘Howell’s Handmade’.
Mash Direct Ltd is a unique award–winning and family–owned Farming Enterprise formed in 2004 and located close to the shores of Strangford Lough in County Down, Northern Ireland. It comprises of a traditional farm and a state–of–the–art food production facility.
Mash Direct is the leading UK brand, offering an innovative range of high quality, convenient mashed root vegetable, potato, cabbage and other quality vegetable products with the taste and texture of good homemade food.
The vegetables are grown, steam–cooked and packaged on the farm and are free from artificial additives, preservatives and colourings. They offer consumers a range of totally natural and nourishing food products that are low in salt, 100% gluten free and provide a good source of dietary fibre.
Moy Park is one of the UK’s top 15 food companies, Northern Ireland’s largest private sector business and the Republic of Ireland’s number one poultry brand. Moy Park has been part of the world’s largest protein company, JBS, since 2015 and currently processes 5 million fresh chickens per week, 1.3 million turkeys per year and 200,000 tonnes of added value products annually.
The company supplies Moy Park branded and own label chicken products to retailers and foodservice providers throughout the UK, Ireland and Europe and is the leading manufacturer of organic, free–range and higher welfare chicken and turkey. Its product portfolio also includes beef products, vegetarian products and desserts.
Rooney Fish specialises in the processing, cooking, chilling and freezing of fresh Shellfish.
The company operates from one of the industry’s most modern and EC approved processing plants with extensive freezing storage capacity.
This fresh shellfish is carefully prepared to the strictest quality controls meeting all EC standards and captures the delicious seafood flavour by fast nitrogen freezing at –135oC.
The company installed new and fully automated cooking machinery that enables them to offer customers new added–value products. This machinery was developed in association with a team of Canadian engineers with vast experience in the shellfish processing industry. The unique cooking system is the only one of its type in operation throughout the global industry.
The company has offices in France, Spain and Italy and distributors in Dubai, Croatia, Slovenia and Japan.
Going for growth - A strategic action plan in support of the Northern Ireland agri-food industry (PDF)
Delivering growth - An update on actions to support the Northern Ireland agri-food industry (PDF)