Armagh company sowing the seeds of success

Invest Northern Ireland today announced a £650,000 investment by Armagh company Linwoods.

The project involves the development of a high-tech plant for the processing and packaging of a range of organic milled “Healthy Super Foods”, including organic milled flaxseed and other varieties of berries and seeds. Invest NI has offered over £90,000 towards the investment by Linwoods, already an established bakery and dairy producer.

Linwoods first discovered the growing market potential for flaxseed at a food exhibition in 2003. The company began importing organic flaxseed from Canada to distribute locally at first and subsequently in Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland. Turnover steadily increased and the company now imports a range of organic seeds and berries from around the world for processing in the new plant in Armagh.

This investment in its processing plant in Armagh has enabled Linwoods to focus on meeting increasing export customer demand while developing innovative new seed combinations for the rapidly growing health food market.

Organic cold-milled seed products are considered to be highly beneficial to many parts of the body, including skin, hair and bones, and promote a healthy heart and immune system thanks to their high concentrations of essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals.

Invest NI’s support includes the employment of a sales and marketing manager, who is working to generate sales in the UK and Republic of Ireland as well as in markets across Europe.

Joanne Hayden, Sales & Marketing Manager for Linwoods, said: “Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the benefits of including organic seed products in a healthy, balanced diet. After experiencing a steady increase in our sales of imported flaxseed, we realised that we could produce organic cold-milled seed products locally which would be of superior quality. We have had great success in the local market across health stores and pharmacies, giving us the confidence to look further afield.

“Invest NI’s support has enabled us to focus on identifying further market opportunities in Great Britain and Europe. We are already making excellent progress on this, with distribution through almost 75% of health stores in the UK and a possible listing with a major grocery retailer as well as growing sales in Spain and Holland. As a result, we are now well placed to become Europe’s principal supplier of cold milled flaxseed.”

Mark Bleakney, Manager of Invest NI’s Southern Regional Office, is pleased that Linwoods has made the step into a new area of business: “This is a good example of an established local company moving into a new area and taking advantage of the support and guidance available from Invest NI during the process.”

He continued: “Linwoods has been an established player in the local dairy and bakery markets for over 30 years. By moving into flaxseed processing and packaging they are tapping into a lucrative and growing health food market – a move which will add value to both Linwoods and the local economy.”