Killinchy Company, Willowbrook Foods, is one of 13 Northern Ireland food and horticulture companies to benefit from £3.46 million in grant aid from the EU Agricultural Processing and Marketing Grant Scheme.
The company has been awarded a grant of over £570,000 to upgrade its processing and packaging equipment. This will allow it to improve competitiveness and broaden its customer base.
The grant award was announced recently by the Agriculture Minister, Jeff Rooker, who said that the projects to be supported would foster innovation and capability development, and strengthen local supply chains in the agri-food sector.
Willowbrook Foods produces a range of pre-packed Salad and Vegetable products. The average level of employment in the most recent year is approximately 136 and they have enjoyed rapid sales growth over the last five years.
It is also planning to create 30 new jobs in sales, marketing, production and product development.
The grant will help the company to improve package automation, and create a new purpose-built processing facility for cooked, semi-cooked and microwaveable products. This will allow it to target new markets.
William Magee, Invest Northern Ireland Client Executive, says: “To compete successfully, agri-food companies need to invest in innovative new products and innovative marketing techniques.
“This grant will help Willowbrook to improve its capability and position it to increase sales by taking a market-led, customer focused approach, in keeping with the Food Strategy Report.”
The EU Agricultural Processing and Marketing Grant Scheme is designed to improve the economic performance and international competitiveness of the food-processing sector. It is administered by the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development in conjunction with Invest NI and is part of the Northern Ireland Programme for Building Sustainable Prosperity.