Picture by Parkway Photography
Pictured with Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster is Lady Dufferin, owner of Clandeboye Estate and Jersey cow Clandeboye Jazz Evita.
Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster has heard how the Clandeboye Estate Yoghurt company in Bangor has almost doubled turnover by investing in innovation.
The company utilised an Invest Northern Ireland Innovation Voucher to develop new products leading to increased sales of yoghurt including to the Republic of Ireland and Great Britain.
The Innovation Voucher enabled the company to access the technology team and facilities at Loughry Campus of the College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE).
During a visit to the company Arlene Foster said: “The food industry is a vitally important part of my portfolio and one which I believe has substantial growth potential. Currently food and drink companies generate £3.7 billion for the Northern Ireland economy and employ almost 20,000 people. By focusing on market-led innovation, companies can achieve faster growth and provide new employment opportunities.
“In addition, food companies contribute substantially to the local farming industry and to the overall wellbeing of the rural community. Clandeboye Estate is an excellent example of how investment in a food business can help to sustain a dairy farm.
“The company’s success also shows that there is a very strong relationship between innovation, particularly in terms of new product development, and an increase in sales in Northern Ireland and in export markets.
“This small and ambitious company, which had established a base in Northern Ireland through the development of an initial product, recognised that it needed to expand its portfolio to meet market demand.”
The Minister concluded: “Support from Invest NI’s successful Innovation Voucher programme enabled it to benefit from the knowledge and expertise of food technologists at Loughry Campus of the College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE) in creating a new product range.
“As a result of this investment in innovation, the company has doubled business over the past year and has seen an increase in sales in the Republic of Ireland.”
Over 100 food and drink companies, mostly smaller businesses, have taken advantage of Innovation Vouchers to develop new products and processes that strengthened their capability to compete successfully and profitably particularly in markets outside Northern Ireland.
Bryan Boggs, General Manager of the Clandeboye Estate's yoghurt business, said: “We’ve found the Innovation Voucher programme to be immensely beneficial for product development and also in strengthening our capability. What it helped us to do in particular was to win business from convenience stores both here and in the Republic.
“We started the business in 2007 essentially with two products – a natural handcrafted and a Greek style yoghurt – that were made from milk from the estate’s herd of Holstein and Jersey cows. While this enabled us to gain a market foothold in major supermarkets, we soon realised that we needed to attract more convenience stores to enable us to grow the business and this meant developing stirred yoghurt in a range of tasty flavours.
“Creating new products is usually an expensive business, an activity that’s especially difficult for a small artisan business. The Innovation Voucher was beneficial because it enabled us to access the technology team and superb facilities at Loughry as our R&D operation.
“All our yoghurt is made by hand in our small artisan dairy, we add no milk powder, cream or other thickening agents thus ensuring a true 100 per cent natural taste and using other natural and locally sourced ingredients. In addition to natural and Greek yoghurts, we now offer raspberry, strawberry and toffee and caramel for major retailers including Sainsbury, ASDA and Tesco. Over the past year, our turnover has doubled from the introduction of the new yoghurts.”