Rooney Fish Cooking Up New Export Success

Revolutionary cooking technology pioneered by Rooney Fish in Kilkeel is expanding export markets for its range of langoustines and other shellfish.

The company, which has been assisted by Invest Northern Ireland in developing the innovative processing technology, to expand into European markets and to implement a new quality standard, is also working with a team of chefs to create a range of tantalising meal ideas featuring its broad range of products.

Rooney Fish is the leading supplier of fresh, chilled and now cooked langoustines and other shellfish to customers in Great Britain, France, Italy, Spain and Russia. It has been assisted by Invest NI to achieve SALSA, (Safe and Local Supplier Approval), a major UK quality accreditation.

The company has become the first graduate from Invest NI’s pilot programme to assist 15 local businesses in achieving the SALSA standard. It has also used other Invest NI trade promotion programmes to develop sales in European markets.

The new and fully automated cooking machinery for langoustines is a world first for the Northern Ireland company and was developed in response to a market opportunity, particularly from food retailers in France, for pre-cooked langoustines.

The machinery cooks Irish langoustines and other shellfish in just two and a half minutes, ensuring the full flavour and omega 3 are retained.

Andrew Rooney, the company’s joint managing director, says the innovative cooking process gives it a competitive edge in its key markets such as the UK and France.

“We spotted an opportunity to add significant value to our langoustines. Customers were asking us to supply cooked products and we decided to focus resources on developing a new process that maintained the flavour and quality of the shellfish.

“We are now backing up this substantial investment with marketing activities including the creation of a series of menus developed by our team of talented chefs. These will be featured in a new cookbook,” he adds. “Achieving SALSA accreditation is an important boost for our marketing drive,” he adds.

Rooney Fish’s innovation was welcomed by Maynard Mawhinney, Invest NI’s Food Director, during a visit to the Kilkeel processing plant, where he viewed the new langoustine cooking system, the only one of its type in operation throughout the global industry. The system was assisted by Invest NI through its R&D programmes.

Mr Mawhinney says: “This is an immensely important development which enhances the company’s position in its target markets. It is an example of market-led innovation that will add substantial value to the company’s products and enable it to open up new business opportunities outside Northern Ireland.”

Formed in 1975, Rooney Fish is a family-owned and managed company that specialises in the processing, cooking, chilling and freezing of fresh whole langoustines, king scallops and white fish such as cod, whiting, monkfish and haddock.

The company, which has offices in France and Italy, operates from one of the industry’s most modern and EC approved processing plants with extensive freezing storage capacity. It sources its shellfish from the local fishing fleet, purchasing about 90 per cent of the local catch.