Portaferry firm, Just Live a Little, gets double boost with award and contract

Just Live a Little, a Co Down-based developer of premium breakfast cereals, healthy snack bars and trail mixes, has just extended its business with Waitrose, the upmarket food retailer in Britain, and won new sales with leading local wholesaler Henderson.

Monday, 26th July 2021, 6:00 am

Just Live a Little, a Co Down-based developer of premium breakfast cereals, healthy snack bars and trail mixes, has just extended its business with Waitrose, the upmarket food retailer in Britain, and won new sales with leading local wholesaler Henderson.

The small company, based in Portaferry and overlooking picturesque Strangford Lough, has won a new listing with Waitrose, a longstanding customer, for another handmade granola product for around 300 stores across Britain.

“It’s been a very challenging 18 months for the company,” says Just Live a Little’s commercial director Jill Crawford. “The orders come at the right time as pandemic restrictions are being relaxed. We’ve continued to grow our business especially with major retailers such as Waitrose and with wholesalers throughout the UK and further afield over the period. This has been achieved by maintaining the closest contacts with existing customers and also by continuing to pitch to potential customers such as Henderson Group in Newtownabbey. Our usual practice of regular visits hasn’t been possible and so we’ve used the latest digital technology to stay in touch with them all.”

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Jill and David Crawford of export success Just Live a Little in Portaferry

Jill runs Just Live a Little with husband David, the managing director who spearheaded the granolas and other products. They create the recipes for the products together. Influenced by the location of the successful business, Just Life a Little now supplies all its products in fully recyclable packaging.

Waitrose is one of the Northern Ireland producer’s leading customers in Britain. The upmarket supermarket was acquired in 1937 by employee-owned retailer John Lewis Partnership, which still sells groceries under the brand in almost 350 stores throughout Great Britain.

Waitrose has now listed Just Live a Little’s luxury tripleberry granola, a tasty and healthy blend of raspberry, blueberry and strawberry, which joins the small company’s whole almond and cranberry and low-sugar coconut and chai granolas on Waitrose shelves. As a result, Just Live a Little is now among the most successful local artisan suppliers to Waitrose.

The healthy granolas are slow baked for consistent quality and outstanding flavours. The nutritious and wholesome range includes products which are hi-fibre, gluten-free and a rich source of protein. The company’s range is also readily available in most UK supermarkets such as Tesco.

In addition, Just Live a Little is now supplying its chocolate granola breakfast cereal to around 200 Henderson Group SPAR stores throughout Northern Ireland, a first time customer for the family business and a very significant local customer.

The Portaferry enterprise is the latest artisan food producer here to be listed by Henderson Wholesale, part of the Henderson Group, a local family owned business consisting of four companies under the Henderson name - Henderson Wholesale, Henderson Retail, Henderson Group Property and Henderson Foodservice.

The wholesale operation supplies over 400 SPAR, EUROSPAR, VIVO, VIVOXTRA & VIVO Essentials stores across Northern Ireland. Henderson Retail owns and operates over 75 successful SPAR and EUROSPAR stores here. The group has a longstanding commitment to promote local food artisans throughout its business. Dozens of smaller producers have gained experience and significant sales through working with Henderson retail and foodservice especially over the past five years.

Just Live a Little was launched by David and Jill in 2011 to make granolas by hand in the kitchen of their Portaferry home. They subsequently expanded into separate premises as business grew. An extensive marketing operation here and abroad led to significant success in export markets.

“Our products are being recognised increasingly here, in Britain and in international markets, as consistently high quality breakfast preferences and for nutritious snacks throughout the day.

“Our Trail Mixes, in particular, are also proving a popular and healthy snack option that’s rich in protein for those who take part in various outdoor activities,” she adds.

Just Live a Little, now among the most successful Northern Ireland food exporters, supplies granolas and other products to leading retailers in Hong Kong, Singapore, Germany, Spain, the Netherlands, Italy, the Czech Republic and Slovenia. In addition to developing a range of granola-based products, Just Live a Little has collaborated with other local artisans, the most notable being a relationship with Suki Tea Makers in Belfast on the development of a unique tea garden, providing the land for cultivation. The tea garden is the brainchild of Suki joint founder Oscar Woolley, a close friend of the Crawfords. The tea plans have been growing steadily over the past two years.

“Portaferry is an ideal location for growing tea because of the micro-climate there, a sheltered environment that’s moderated by nearby Strangford Lough, the largest natural inlet in the British Isles,” Jill explains.

In addition, the enterprising couple diversified into hospitality last year by creating the unique Hideaway, a self-contained and one-bed house overlooking the lough that’s ideal for rental by staycationers and tourists. The tea garden is beside the Hideaway luxury accommodation.

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