Millar foods targets export success

Eglinton-based Millar Savoury Foods (MSF) is aiming to grow its business in Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland with innovative convenience foods it has developed with help from Invest Northern Ireland.

The family-owned and managed company, which employs around 40 people in the Co Londonderry town, has used Invest NI’s Design Development Programme and marketing assistance to create two new trade marked brands - Millfarm and Mulligan’s Munchers, the latter aimed specifically at the fast growing market for hot snacks sought by vending operators.

The new products, developed with assistance from Invest NI’s Design Development Programme and other marketing support, were launched at the recent AVEX 2007 event for the vending industry in Earl’s Court, London. AVEX is one of the most important events in the vending industry calendar.

The company’s Mulligan’s Munchers brand of chilled and frozen pies, burgers, sausage rolls and hot dogs was also short-listed for an award during the exhibition. The company has been assisted by Invest NI’s Regional Office in Derry.

Announcing the new products, Clarke Millar, MSF Commercial Director, says: ‘Millfarm and Mulligan’s Munchers have been developed for different markets. Millfarn offers independent retailers a range of quality snacks while Mulligan’s Munchers provides a range of quality savouries to vending operators.

“Our market research has identified a demand from the vending industry for hot snacks which combine taste with the convenience that a microwave offers.  Our market research indicates a significant opportunity for the products we are now offering. The products feature gas-flushed packaging which guarantees an extended shelf-life of at least 21 days.

“Invest NI’s practical support and guidance has been immensely important to us as we have sought to develop our product range to grasp the opportunities that we have identified,” he adds.

Maynard Mawhinney, Invest NI’s Director of Food, welcoming the company’s focus on innovation for export markets, says: “This is an extremely important investment in its product portfolio and overall capability. The company has recognised that sustainable growth can best be achieved by developing new products targeted at markets outside Northern Ireland.

“The international vending sector is a growing market for quality snacks particularly those which offer nutritional benefits. We have established close links with major vending operators and several leading companies visited Northern Ireland in December for one-to-one meetings with local food processors. We are keen to encourage more local processors to take advantage of the links that we have developed.”

Established in 1969, MSF already supplies many top supermarket chains with a range of savoury foods. It has invested heavily in new processing equipment and attractive packaging.