Food company achieves retail quality accreditation

Four smaller food companies have been helped by Invest Northern Ireland to achieve a globally recognised quality accreditation that will help them to develop business with major supermarket chains throughout the United Kingdom and Ireland.

The companies - Golden Popcorn, Mallusk, Northern Ireland’s only popcorn producer; Graham’s Bakery in Dromore, a bakery specialising in cakes, tray bakes and muffins; Linwoods, Armagh, a manufacturer of healthy cereals; and William Sprott, Portadown, a bacon and ham processor – have all achieved BRC (British Retail Consortium) accreditation.

Invest NI’s Food Division provided financial support to enable the companies to access the expertise in food technology, standards and hygiene at the College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE) at Loughry, near Cookstown.

BRC, the representative body of UK retailers, operates global standards covering food, packaging, consumer products, storage and distribution systems that help food companies meet the quality standards of top supermarkets.

Maynard Mawhinney, Invest NI’s Food Director, welcoming the BRC accreditation achieved by the local companies, said: “This is an essential quality standard for food businesses wishing to become suppliers to UK retailers including the major supermarket chains.

“A key activity of the Invest NI Food Division is to provide practical assistance to our companies to achieve globally recognised quality standards that will enable them to sell their products outside Northern Ireland. In addition to the wide range of support in areas such as business improvement, marketing and overall company development, we work closely with CAFRE’s Loughry campus in BRC training,” he added.

In another initiative to help smaller food firms to achieve recognised quality standards to increase sales, Invest NI has introduced a Safe and Local Supplier Approval (SALSA) Scheme in association with Sainsbury’s.

Fifteen local companies have already signed up for the pilot initiative, which aims to help small local food producers put in place robust food safety procedures.  Invest NI anticipates that by achieving food safety recognition, SALSA will open the doors for small Northern Irish food manufacturers to supply more retailers and foodservice companies, and ultimately grow their businesses.

The participating businesses will each receive mentoring and pre-audits as well as the final audit and SALSA membership. With only 15 places available, the pilot has been oversubscribed by businesses recognising the opportunities stemming from having a food safety certification in place.

For further information on the SALSA pilot in Northern Ireland contact Gráinne Moody at Invest NI, Tel:  028 9069 8418, email: