Smashing pumpkins from Fermanagh for Toronto

Smashing pumpkin and fiery mango chutney, mulled plum jam and shortbread from a small Fermanagh company will be presented for the first time at the popular British Isles Show in Toronto this weekend and in London next month with help from Invest Northern Ireland.

Shazzam, based at Monea, near Enniskillen, will be the only Fermanagh company taking part in the three-day event, Canada’s premiere retail show, which annually attracts around 50,000 visitors and will have exhibitors from the United Kingdom and Canada. Two other Northern Ireland companies – Tayto from Tandragee and McWhinney’s Irish Pork Sausages, Bangor, will also be among more than 100 exhibitors.

Shazzam, formed by Suzanne Livingstone in 2005, specialises in the production of unusual flavours of homemade jams and chutneys, as well as traditional home-baked shortbread.  The company will also be showing its products in the Invest NI-backed presentation at Covent Garden in London on St Patrick’s Day.

The small company has been doing good business at agricultural shows and farmers’ markets, including the big St George’s Market in Belfast, for many months. Mrs Livingston will also be showing two cookbooks she has penned to detail her unique jam and chutney recipes at the show.

Opportunities will be provided for visitors to sample a range of products during the event.

The British Isles Show, which also features performances by Scottish and Irish bands and dancers and will be opened by Jenny McAlpine, who’s better known as ‘Fiz’ Brown in the Coronation Street ‘soap’, has been a popular event in the Ontario calendar for 17 years.

It takes place in Toronto’s Queen Elizabeth Building and is sponsored by Zoom, the airline which operates scheduled flights between Belfast and Toronto and Vancouver, as well as brewers Bass, Tennent’s and Boddington’s.

Mrs Livingstone says: “I was invited to show my products by a contact in Toronto associated with the event. It will be my very first exhibition outside Northern Ireland and it will be interesting to see how my products go down with North American consumers.

“They’ve been very well received at events across Northern Ireland because they’re different with distinctive flavours. I get my ideas from old cookbooks I’ve gathered over the years and also from people I meet at various shows.

“It’s quite a step up for me, graduating from farmers’ markets in Northern Ireland to international events in Toronto and London, but I am looking forward to it. Taking part in Toronto will also be good experience as it will prepare me for the Invest NI presentation at the St Patrick’s food event in Covent Garden, London on 17-18 March,” she adds.

The company has received marketing support from Invest Northern Ireland’s Western Regional Office (WRO) in Omagh and from the Trade team in Belfast.

Patricia Devine, Manager of Invest NI’s Western Regional Office, says: “A key role for us is to encourage smaller companies in particular to explore opportunities to do business outside Northern Ireland.

“Shazzam has developed a unique range of jams and chutneys that have proved popular with many people attending markets across the province. Taking part in the shows in Toronto and London will enable the company to test market its existing products and to gain new ideas that will widen its product portfolio,” she adds.