Export sales drive growth at Whites

Surging exports of its healthy breakfast cereals helped Tandragree oat miller Whites achieve a 50 per cent growth in sales last year. Whites has taken part in a range of Invest Northern Ireland export initiatives including exhibitions such as Gulfood in Dubai and at six ‘meet the buyer’ events.

The company, part of Armagh-based Fane Valley Co-Operative, has enjoyed significant growth in all markets especially Great Britain where major grocery and health food stores now list products from its extensive portfolio including its Toasted Oats snack range.

The Tandragee company’s success was announced during a ‘meet the buyer’ event involving key food buyers from England and Scotland, which was held at Invest NI’s offices in Belfast.

As well as growth in the UK and Irish markets, Whites has seen export sales increase substantially in Spain, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Hong Kong. New markets established during the year, including Dubai, are also achieving strong growth, according to Mark Gowdy, the company’s Sales and Marketing Manager.

Among its most successful markets is Spain, where it supplies the SuperCor grocery chain and has also launched Fricodan, a new brand for the European market.

“While our Toasted Oats snacks are selling extremely well across all markets, all other products including the traditional porridge oats are continuing to grow strongly,” Mr Gowdy added.

“Our growth is the result of a strong focus on achieving listings with major food retailers and is also an indication that the trend in most markets towards healthy and natural products at breakfast is continuing to gather momentum.

“While there are signs that the recession has impacted on other organic products, our sales have continued to grow. This would suggest that consumers want to start the day with a healthy breakfast.”

Welcoming the company’s success, Alastair Hamilton, Invest NI’s Chief Executive, said: “Whites continues to grow strongly through a very professional approach to new product development and export marketing.

“We’ve been working with the company in areas such as brand development through the Design Development Programme and the activities of our marketing advisers in England, Scotland and the Republic of Ireland. Whites has also supported and won business from many of our marketing initiatives in Europe, Asia and the US.

“As well as developing its product portfolio, Whites is also creating a strong market identity through extensive investment in branding with help from our programmes,” he added.

Among the most recent results of the company’s focus on innovative products is a range of fruit porridge in new packaging with revamped branding.

All of these have already secured listings with most of the leading retailers in the UK and Republic of Ireland.