Crosskeys Fine Foods assisted to exploit £600m export opportunities

Crosskeys Fine Foods in Randalstown is being assisted by Invest Northern Ireland to develop quality convenience meals and target a market worth approximately £600 million in the Republic of Ireland.

The new company, formed by Paul McKee, owner of Crosskeys Meats in the town, is investing £291,000 to develop the business. Invest NI has offered assistance of £31,000 for product development and marketing.

Crosskeys Fine Foods will manufacture a range of stir fry and marinade products at premises in Craigstown Industrial Estate in Randalstown and plans to create 12 new jobs over the next two years.

Assistance for the new business venture was announced by Maynard Mawhinney, Invest NI Food Director, who said: “This is an important move into added-value products by a successful local company, led by an experienced businessman who has been engaged in the meat industry for over 20 years.

“Underpinning this new business is his extensive knowledge of the marketplace. Mr McKee identified an opportunity for premium convenience products, tested it successfully with an initial range of foods and is now moving to develop the business.

“Our support has been shaped to assist Crosskeys to focus on adding value to the extensive range of meat products that it has developed over many years for the existing customers of its established butchery business, and then to target opportunities in the Republic of Ireland. The company will also be able to draw on the advice and practical support of our experienced marketing adviser in RoI to develop relationships in this immensely important marketplace.”

Outlining his plans, Mr McKee said: “The deli foods market in the Republic is reported by Mintel, the leading international research organisation, to be worth around £600 million. In Northern Ireland, the market is currently worth upwards of £283 million.

“My aim is to build the business locally and start selling in the Republic of Ireland by 2013, when I hope to see this market contribute around 30 per cent of my turnover. Initial research indicates that there is a good market, particularly in the border counties, for the type of quality convenience foods that I am developing.

“The decision to start the new company was influenced significantly by requests from customers of my existing business for products such as pies and marinades to make meals at home more interesting and tasty. This gave me an opportunity to develop a new and different product range, in addition to the quality meats that I’ve been providing for over 10 years in the butchery business in Randalstown.

“I decided to test the market by including some stir fry and marinade products, which were very well received. The process also produced other ideas from customers about potential convenience foods.

“The trend towards premium convenience foods is clearly being driven by the recession. While consumers tend to be eating out less, they are increasingly seeking quality and tasty foods they can make easily at home. All the indications are that this is a trend that will continue to develop over the next few years.”