Fortnum and Mason, London’s speciality goods store, is now selling unique Puro brand smoothies developed by Barefruit Products at Dundonald. Following the Puro presentation on the Invest Northern Ireland stand at last year’s International Food Exhibition in London, the Piccadilly based store placed an initial order for its prestigious Food Hall. This has now led to repeat orders for the range of whole fresh fruit smoothies.
The company, which has been assisted by Invest NI, has seen its business grow rapidly since the launch of the first smoothies in February 2006. In addition to business in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, Puro products are now on the shelves of specialist stores such as Daylesford Organic in Gloucestershire and the Peyton and Byrne café and restaurant chain in London, which also has an outlet in the National Gallery and specialises in fresh products.
The smoothies have also been listed by major supermarket chains such as Sainsbury and Tesco, by Pallas Foods, the leading Irish food distributor, and cafes including Costa, Java, Streat and Deane’s Deli.
Rosemary Cowan, owner of Barefruit Products, says: “Our presence on the Invest NI stand at IFE was immensely beneficial. It enabled us to make contact with a host of potential customers that led directly to the first contract from Fortnum and Mason. We wouldn’t have been able to reach key buyers from such an influential retailer if we hadn’t been at IFE.
“What makes Puro smoothies different from competitor products is our focus on using fresh quality fruit prepared by hand, not purees or concentrates, and a pressurisation process that maintains vitamin C and minerals creating a healthier smoothie.
“The traditional method of pasteurisation used by our competitors can destroy a significant amount of vitamin C because it involves boiling the fruit in its initial and/or final preparation stage.
“I developed the Puro range using natural fresh fruit to meet the developing trend towards healthy products that combine indulgence and convenience,” she adds.
Maynard Mawhinney, Invest NI’s Food Director, says: “The quality and innovation of the Puro range have led to the company winning a string of awards including the Northern Ireland Food and Drink Association’s ‘Best Small Company Food Innovation Award’ and InterTradeIreland’s ‘Northern Ireland Emerging Company 2007 Award’ in the All Ireland Seedcorn Competition, one of the few food companies to be recognised in this important business event.
“These orders from such an influential retailer are a tremendous endorsement of the quality of products developed and marketed by this ambitious food business.
“Taking part in IFE has proved very worthwhile for many of our smaller companies. They’ve benefited from the access the show in London provided to key buyers. Overall the show has so far generated new business of around £10 million for the participating companies.
“Local food companies will also have opportunities to take part in a series of initiatives that enable them to show their products to top international purchasing organizations,” he adds.
Puro was also helped in developing the smoothies and production techniques by experts at the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute in Belfast and Loughry College, Cookstown.