16th APRIL 2020 - Page 39

JANUARY 23 2020
Interview: Kathy says eating ‘rainbow’ of local
produce the route to health and success P41
Irish Black Butter
for Artisan Food
Club in Britain
INDUSTRY INSIGHT: Arable, beef and
sheep sectors are looking forward P43
Food Stories wins rst
business in Kuwait
ABOVE: Alastair Bell developed Irish Black
Butter from Armagh Bramley apples.
RISH Black Butter, the producer of
unique spreads, has two original
spreads listed by the UK’s Artisan
Food Club, a leading UK supplier of
speciality foods.
Listed on the Artisan Food Club site
from the business based near Portrush
in County Antrim are the original Irish
Black Butter sweet/savoury spread and
the company’s Peanut Spread with Irish
Black Butter.
Both spreads are the brainchild of
Alastair Bell, a Northern Ireland
entrepreneur who won praise when
he appeared on BBC 2’s Dragons’ Den
programme last year.
He developed Irish Black Butter from
Armagh Bramley apples, one of Northern
Ireland’s EU-protected name products.
Irish Black Butter also features treacle,
spices and brandy among its ingredients
and was created with assistance of
leading chef Paul Clarke, the managing
director of En-Place Foods and Craic
Foods, both also based in Northern
The business with Artisan Food Club for
Irish Black Butter was assisted by Mr
Clarke under the Craic Foods’ banner.
Mr Bell, commenting on the new
business with Artisan Food Club, says:
“This is an important development
for us in Britain, a market we’ve been
targeting for the past two years. We’ve
been taking part in a programme of trade
shows there to grow sales and to identify
potential distributors.”
He formed Irish Black Butter in 2017
on the back of a successful career in
business, including event management.
Irish Black Butter, a Food NI member
company, has earned a host of awards
including the coveted three stars in last
year’s UK Great Taste Awards and Chefs’
Larder Choice in Blas na hEireann, Irish
National Food Awards.
The small company was commissioned
to supply Irish Black Butter for 30
hampers for NATO summit leaders,
including US President Donald Trump, in
England in December.
The spread has also won acclaim from
OOD Stories, the local producer of
fruit crisps and popcorn, has won its
rst business in Kuwait. The Bangorbased company, a Food NI member,
is to supply its crisps and popcorn
to Saveco Supermarkets, one of the Middle
East’s biggest supermarkets.
Food Stories, established by businessman
Michael Heaslip in Bangor, is now on course
to sell more than 100,000 bags annually.
The small company’s Pinknch fruit crisps
are already listed in 1,200 supermarkets
in the UK, Ireland and Europe. The crisps
are made of real fruit treated in a vacuumcrisping process.
Food Stories also makes Cloud Corn
popcorn. It will now send around 50,000 bags
of both brands to Saveco Supermarket in
It has received support from
InterTradeIreland’s Acumen programme and
Mr Heaslip says funding from the body “gave
us the opportunity to invest more time in
developing sales, an option that would not
have been otherwise available”.
He added: “We have a unique cooking
process that maintains the quality of
the fruit and vegetables. Parents that
couldn’t persuade their kids to eat fruit and
vegetables are now sending me thank you
messages on social media.”
The Kuwait deal follows an exceptionally
successful year for the company which saw
new markets developed in Hungary, Sweden
and the Czech Republic.
He formed Food Stories in 2014 as a
distributor for Northern Ireland’s burgeoning
artisan food industry and enjoyed
considerable success for his local clients
with independent retailers in particular.
Experience gained dealing with retailers
led him to set up a production arm of the
business and to invest in popcorn, a snack
category in which he had considerable
ABOVE: Michael Heaslip of Food Stories is now on course to sell more than 100,000 bags
annually of fruit crisps and popcorn.
Much of the rm’s exports have come from
contacts made at trade shows.
Referring to the Pinknch fruit and veggie
crisps, Mr Heaslip adds: “My aim was
to develop a healthier crisp, one which
could contribute to the ve-a-day diet
“The unique cooking process maintains
the benets of the fruits and vegetables and
means, for example, that they are a healthier
snack for children in particular. They are also
based on real fruit, are also gluten-free and
high in bre.”
In addition to the Crispy Green Bean and
Sugar Snap Pea, the Pinknch range includes
Apple and Banana. Green Bean also won a UK
Great Taste Award this year.
Hinch gin receives global award six months after launch
ABOVE: Head Distiller Aaron
Flaherty receiving the award on
behalf of Hinch Distillery.
OUNTY Down Distillery
Hinch, which launched its
Ninth Wave Gin and Hinch
Whiskey Time Collection brands
last summer, has received
Gold status for its gin at an
international awards event held
in Glaziers Hall, London.
It was awarded a Gold
medal and certicate in the
‘Contemporary Gin Style’
category after judges from a
panel made up of international
journalists, specialist drinks
retailers and industry experts
completed a blind tasting
session on a variety of gin
proles originating from all four
corners of the world.
The contemporary category
covers gins with avour
proles where juniper is still
discernible, but other avours
such as citrus, spice, and oral
notes are more prominent than
in a classic gin.
Contemporary gin is a catchall term for gins described as
“New-Wave”, “New Western”,
“New American Dry”, and must
be bottled at a minimum of
37.5% ABV.
Ninth Wave, which is part of
a growing production line at
the £15m distillery set to open
to the public this summer, is a
premium product that taps into
Celtic heritage.
It is the craft work of Belfastborn Head Distiller Aaron
Flaherty and his team, who have
a wealth of experience working
for some of Ireland and the UK’s
best-known spirit brands.
The award will further raise
the prole of Ninth Wave, which
is already exporting globally.
Mr Flaherty said: “We are
delighted to receive the Gold
Award at the World Gin Awards.
It marks the perfect start to
what will be an exciting year for
Hinch Distillery as construction
revs up for a public launch this
“We believe our Ninth Wave
gin is mystical and otherworldly and we’re very proud of
the methods that go into making
it but to receive an award when
the product is still in its infancy
and from those at the top of the
spirit industry, is conrmation
that we are producing a product
worthy of holding its own on a
global stage.
“We would like to congratulate
everyone at Hinch for their
contribution to the development


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