Mash Direct wins top award for fresh ideas at global showcase

Comber-based Mash Direct has won a prestigious award for innovation from a panel of independent industry experts ahead of the International Food Exhibition (IFE) in London from 18-21 March.

The company’s Red Cabbage and Beetroot steam-cooked product was chosen in the ‘Fresh Ideas’ showcase to be highlighted at the event, one of the biggest in the global food industry calendar. The Mash Direct product was among 13 winners – the only one from Northern Ireland - from almost 300 entries in the awards, one of IFE’s most important and popular features.

The company had to demonstrate that its product, which was launched in July 2006, is genuinely innovative and creative, not just a ‘me too’ development.

Managing Director, Martin Hamilton, who founded the business in March 2004 with wife Tracy, described the IFE award as “a marvellous endorsement of the quality of our products and the dedication to customer-focused fresh thinking which drives the team at Mash Direct

“What makes the Red Cabbage and Beetroot product new and innovative is the unexpectedness of this vegetable combination; the blend of texture and natural flavour.  We source seed varieties specifically for their natural flavours. The beetroot is especially topical with health conscious consumers because of its anti-oxidant and folic acid properties.

“All the vegetables used in our range of products are grown, harvested daily, and steam cooked on our own farm.  We do not use any artificial additives, preservatives or colourings. This means customers can count on natural and wholesome products from our farm to their plates,” he added.

Maynard Mawhinney, Invest NI’s Food Director, congratulating Mash Direct on its latest success, said: “This company is an excellent example of the type of innovation and commitment to quality which is increasingly driving food companies in Northern Ireland.

“Mash Direct identified a market opportunity to diversify the family farm into a business that meets the growing demand for ready to cook vegetable products that offer a fresh flavour and are wholesome. In addition, the company is demonstrating an impressive professionalism in its marketing and processing activities.

“This is an ambitious and entrepreneurial company which has successfully established the Mash Direct brand in Ireland as a leader in customer-focused quality and is now winning increasing business in Great Britain,” he added.

Winners in the Fresh Ideas section will be showcased to the global food and drink community at IFE07.

Mash Direct has developed its products with assistance from Invest NI and Loughry College, Cookstown. The portfolio also includes mash potato, champ, turnip, carrot and parsnip, parsnip and turnip, carrot, potato and cheese, and colcannon.

It supplies products to major retailers including Sainsbury, Tesco, Spar UK, Superquinn, Supervalu and Dunnes. It also recently signed a major contract to supply Pallas Foods, one of Ireland’s leading food distributors. Mash Direct employs around 30 people at its Comber plant, which is currently being expanded.