In picture is (left), Diane Christie, New Product Development Manager at Avondale Foods, with Vicky Kell, Invest NI Trade Director, and Barry Cullen, Head of Sales of Avondale Foods in Craigavon.
With the Great Taste Awards helping local company Avondale Foods in Craigavon to increase sales of its products outside Northern Ireland, Invest NI is encouraging local firms to enter this year’s competition.
The Great Taste Awards are organised annually by the UK Guild of Fine Foods and applications for this year close on 18 March. Winning awards in previous years has helped Avondale to promote both its own label and Country Kitchen branded soups and other products in Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland markets. Avondale currently sells around 85 per cent of its products outside Northern Ireland and will be among 11 companies seeking to grow business in Great Britain and beyond on the Invest NI stand at the International Food Exhibition (IFE) in London, from 13-16th March.
Speaking during a visit to the company, now one of the UK’s leading processors of soups, bagged salads and coleslaw, Invest NI Trade Director, Dr Vicky Kell said: “Avondale Foods gained Great Taste Awards for its innovative soups and dips over the past few years and has seen sales of its Country Kitchen products increase by 25 per cent since 2009.
“As well as being a tremendous endorsement of the quality of a product, Great Taste Awards help raise the profile of a company particularly in Great Britain, a key market for most local food companies. Publicity resulting from the event and subsequent gala awards dinner reaches a very wide audience especially in the retailing industry. It’s a tremendous opportunity to build brand awareness.
“Last year, over 30 local food and drink companies including Avondale Foods gained around 50 awards in the event which attracts thousands of entries from most parts of the United Kingdom and from the Republic of Ireland.
“We are keen to see as many companies as possible grasp the business opportunity that the Great Taste Awards offer. They need to hurry because entries for the 2011 awards close on 18th March. Winners will be announced in July and the overall UK and regional winners in September,” added Dr Kell.
Derek Geddis, Co-Chairman of Avondale Foods, said: “We’ve enjoyed considerable success in the awards, which we’ve used very effectively to test market new product ideas, over the past few years. We are operating in a very fast moving industry driven by retailers and consumers continually seeking new taste experiences.
“To enable us to respond quickly and successfully to market trends, we invest extensively in new product development. New products are the lifeblood of the food and drink industry. Over the years, we’ve successfully developed several market innovations including our ‘Brand Me’ service for retailers seeking their own branded soups, salads and sauces.”