20th JUNE 2019 - Page 51



BUSINESS
FARMWEEK
MAY 31 2018
51
FW
INTERVIEW
SAM BUTLER talks
to Neal Kelly, Fresh
Produce Director of
Henderson Wholesale
in Belfast, about the
commitment of the
business to innovative
food and drink
ABOVE: Winner
Joe Quail of
Quail’s Butchery in
Banbridge.
RIGHT: Spar
initiatives such as
The Kitchen and
Enjoy Local have
helped innovative
food companies
prosper.
RIGHT: Amy Moore and
Lorna Robinson, managing
director of Cloughbane Farm
Foods in Pomeroy, with their
certificates at the awards.
Top food group backs smart ideas
H
ENDERSON Group’s
longstanding commitment
to new products for
customers, especially food
shoppers, in today’s highly
competitive and value for money
conscious markets was showcased
recently by the announcement of
winners of the group’s Spar Fresh
Innovation Awards.
Neal Kelly, Henderson Wholesale’s
Fresh Produce Director, says this is
an immensely important initiative
which “celebrates the group’s
fresh food suppliers, farmers and
growers”.
“The awards recognise product
innovation, accessibility of goods
and the sustainable practices of
our suppliers,” Mr Kelly continues.
“The Fresh Innovation Awards
have been fantastic, and we have
received such a positive response
from the suppliers we work with.
“It was tremendously encouraging
to see so many innovative products
from local companies and also the
overall commitment of companies
here to come up with smart ideas
for customers.
“We are passionate about
local food and drink and seek to
source as much as
practicable
from
suppliers
here.
“We strive,
therefore,
to ensure
we are sourcing locally first and
foremost as we have some of the
finest produce in the world on our
own doorstep. There is simply no
excuse to be looking elsewhere.”
The group, which has just
announced a £20 million
investment in a new distribution
warehouse, looks to its suppliers
to come up with smart product
ideas that will appeal to customers
across its extensive network of
Spar and Eurospar stores.
And it works closely with
established suppliers, as well as
potential business partners, to
assist them in developing food that
will work on the store’s shelves,
chillers and fridges.
Among initiatives taken to
promote the growth of innovative
local foods are Spar’s The Kitchen
and Enjoy Local ranges.
The supplier awards have been
running over the past five years
and were rebranded this year to
reward innovation from suppliers
and “the mark they’re making on
the agri-food and business industry
here”.
“Choosing to rebrand to the Fresh
Innovation Awards was a nod to
how much our suppliers have
helped us raise our game in the
business,” he says.
“They are constantly
creating new ways
of producing
fresh food to meet
our
retailer
SUCCESS:
TS Foods of
Castlewellan,
County Down,
won the
Excellence
in Product
Innovation
category.
Pictured, left,
is Stephen
McNeice, sales
manager, and
Paul Holmes,
new product
development.
and shopper demands for fresh,
local and convenient food offerings,
products that also are seen by
customers as offering great taste,
premium quality and real value for
money.
“All of our finalists have helped
us to create market dominating
and competitive fresh food brands
into our stores. We’re so proud
to have refreshed the Enjoy Local
brand since its launch three years
ago, and The Kitchen has ensured
that tonight’s tea has never been
quicker and more convenient to get
on the table,” adds Mr Kelly.
The focus on
innovation was
reinforced
by the
introduction of two new categories,
Young Agri-food Innovator
celebrating rising talent throughout
the industry, recognising a
young person who pushed the
boundaries of fresh food and brand
development locally.
The final new award, Contribution
to Agri-food Industry in Northern
Ireland, was chosen by Henderson’s
Wholesale’s Fresh Trading Team
and celebrated a person or a
company that has contributed over
and above to the local industry.
Brian Irwin, chairman of Irwin’s
Bakery, the largest independent
bakery, was deservedly recognised
for his outstanding contribution
to the agri-food industry. Mr Irwin
also picked up the Overall Supplier
of the Year Award for the bakery,
which has been trading with
Henderson’s since the early 1900s.
“I am delighted to honour
Brian Irwin for his outstanding
contribution to the industry
here. He has pushed forward and
diversified the family business
successfully to break the market in
Britain,” Mr Kelly adds.
And there was another success
for bakery in Northern Ireland.
LEFT: Neal Kelly, Fresh Produce
Director of Henderson Wholesale,
second right, with two award
winners, right, Brian Irwin,
chairman of Irwin’s Bakery,
Craigavon, and Tim Graham of
Graham’s Bakery, Dromore. Also
pictured is Jo Scott of the BBC.
Tim Graham, sales manager of
Graham’s Bakery in Dromore, also
became the first ever recipient
of the Young Agri-Food Innovator
Award. The judges agreed that
Tim was excelling in new product
development for the family-owned
company.
ºTim recently collaborated
with Henderson Wholesale to
produce an exclusive line of
celebration cakes for the new
Occasions range being developed
throughout Henderson branded
stores. Other winners included
TS Foods, Castlewellan, County
Down, for Excellence in Product
Innovation for its Ann’s Kitchen
range of fresh and convenient fish
meals; Hovis, Belfast, won the
Excellence in Regional Delivery
award for maintaining a 99.98 per
cent service level when delivering
over 50 bread and bakery products,
six days a week, directly to the
entire network. PRM Group, of
Lisburn, County Antrim, one of
Henderson Wholesale’s leading
fresh brand suppliers, took home
the Tomorrow Matters Award,
a nod to the alignment of the
group’s CSR practices with its
suppliers. Cloughbane Farm Foods
in Pomeroy, County Tyrone, was
highly commended.
Ballyclare, County Antrim pork
producer Fred C Robinsons was
presented with the Own Brand
Supplier of the Year award,
reflecting the company’s increase
in sales of more than 13 per cent
of Spar’s Enjoy Local range of pork
sausages.
In the first Local Butchery Awards
to be presented at the event,
Henderson Retail honoured four
butchery concessions which scored
highest during audits which took
place at the start of the year.
The audits focused on quality,
range, presentation, innovation,
flair, availability and creativity.
Quail’s Butchery in Spar, Banbridge,
County Down, was named InStore Butcher of the Year;
McMurray’s Butchers at Eurospar,
Templepatrick, County Antrim;
H&J Carnduff Butchers in Eurospar,
Brackenvale, County Down; and
Haye’s Family Butchers, from Spar
Greystone in Antrim, were all highly
commended.

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