Grace’s Irish Biscuits, based in Bangor, has won significant business from 40 major department stores in Germany for its award-winning homemade biscuits.
The export business, secured through a leading food distributor in Cologne, is the company’s first in Germany and has seen it supply the distinctive shamrock shortbread and oatmeal biscuits. It follows another recent export ‘first’ for the company in the Netherlands.
The two deals are the outcome of a major drive by the company to grow sales outside Northern Ireland for its premium quality biscuits, which was supported by Invest Northern Ireland.
The new business in Germany was announced by William Bullock, Managing Director of Grace’s Irish Biscuits, who formed the company in 2008 following a successful career in sales and marketing with multinational operations, and welcomed by Dr Vicky Kell, Invest Northern Ireland Trade Director.
Dr Kell said: “This is an immensely encouraging achievement for this small and enterprising business in one of the world’s most competitive and quality conscious markets. It is also Europe’s largest market for food and drink products and one in which consumers demand premium products that are different.
“The food and drink market had a value of €162 billion in 2009. With a population of just under 82 million, Germany offers food and drink exporters exceptional opportunities. Local companies in any sector interested in doing business there can benefit from the expert market knowledge and lead generation services provided by our team in Dusseldorf.”
Mr Bullock said: “Winning business in Germany, one of the world’s most competitive marketplaces for biscuits and other food products, is a marvellous boost for the company and gives us an important platform for further growth in this and neighbouring markets. We had been researching opportunities in key international markets and received a request for information about our products from the German distributor who had discovered our website.
“I contacted him and sent samples of the products. An initial order followed for taste trials in the German stores. These produced excellent feedback and led the distributor to place a more substantial order for both the shamrock shortbread and oatmeal biscuits. Both are now selling well in all the stores.
“The orders are a tremendous endorsement of our business strategy which is sharply focused on exports. Our aim is to develop Grace’s as a global brand that’s identified as supplier of quality and richly flavoured biscuits with provenance from our use of the best local ingredients including Northern Irish creamery butter from Ballyrashane Dairy in Coleraine. Embracing tradition and home grown resources are at the heart of our brand and are reflected in everything we do.
“Our commitment to customers is to deliver truly unique, high quality, Irish products, using the best of locally sourced ingredients and trusted producers.
“We aim to build on the recent successes in Germany and the Netherlands and to have the biscuits on sale in at least a further eight international markets by the end of this year,” he added.
The company’s oatmeal biscuits gained a gold star status in the UK Guild of Fine Foods Great Taste Awards and was awarded 'best new product by a small company at the 2009 Northern Ireland Food and Drink Association Awards, receiving a ’10 out of 10’ for product quality from the judging panel.