Comber business invests almost £4m to boost sales of fresh vegetables

Comber-based Sparky Pac is investing £3.7 million to grow sales of its fresh, pre-packed vegetables with support from Invest Northern Ireland.

The investment was announced today by Maynard Mawhinney, Invest NI’s Food Director during a visit to the company, which supplies its pre-packed vegetables to clients including Sainsbury’s, Tesco and the Henderson Group.

Invest NI has offered assistance of £62,500 towards the investment which will create 15 new jobs over the next three years.

Mr Mawhinney, commenting on the investment, said: “The investment in new facilities, processes and marketing activities is designed to strengthen this quality conscious company’s competitiveness in the market for a range of pre-packed vegetables including carrots, parsnips and broccoli.

“It will enable the company to benefit from a growing demand for fresh and wholesome vegetables at a time when families are conscious of healthy eating issues and seeking value for money.

“Sparky Pac has a strong market position and an impressive reputation as a supplier of quality products to many of the biggest grocery retailers. Our support will help the company to achieve its business objective of offering existing and potential customers a one-stop-service for fresh, pre-packed vegetables,” Mr Mawhinney added.

Mark McKee, Sparky Pac Director, outlining the investment, said: This investment is being made because of a growth in demand for our products and a recognition of the fast response service offered by the company. Invest NI’s encouragement and support has been immensely important.

“At the heart of this project is the construction and equipping with the latest machinery of a dedicated ‘Wash House’ at the Comber plant. We are now able to offer retailers a full service from farm to shelf. Customers are guaranteed total quality and traceability because all the

root vegetables are grown by the company and then washed, graded, polished, packaged and distributed by us.

“The additional production capacity will enable us to develop this market opportunity.” he added.

Sparky Pac also provides an important gateway for local growers into the supply chain, providing a route to market for farmers that meet the strict quality assurance requirements of our customers. Our strong supply chain relationships are one of our great strengths, as good communication is the key to success in this fast-moving marketplace.’’

Sparky Pac is a family owned and managed business that was formed in 1989 by Mr McKee and wife Gwen. Mark’s brother James joined the company as a director in 2007, and Sparky Pac is now one of the leading suppliers of pre-packed vegetables to grocery retailers throughout Northern Ireland.