The new site on the Clandeboye Estate in Bangor sees the company moving from its original incubator site at Ards Business Hub after 15 years of sustained growth.
The only yoghurt made in Northern Ireland, general manager Bryan Boggs explained that the company has grown between 30- 40% year on year since its inception in 2007 and needed a purpose-built factory in order to continue to develop and seek out new markets.
He explained: “When we first came to Ards Business Hub we had two staff and processed 300 litres of milk each week. Now we employ 20 people and process 6000 litres per day.
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“It had always been our dream to build a sustainable business on the Clandeboye Estate, powered by green energy, using milk from our own herd.”
The business was the idea of the late Lady Dufferin who hired Bryan, an experienced food technician, to create an artisan yoghurt using milk from her herd of pedigree Holstein and Jersey cows.
After developing the process at Loughry College, Bryan took a unit at Ards Business Hub to start production and prove that there was a market for the locally made yogurt.
The range has since developed significantly and is now stocked in all the major supermarket chains and many independent outlets throughout Northern Ireland and beyond.
Bryan continued: “As a small start-up, we didn’t want to risk a long-term lease and the unit at Ards allowed us to trial the product. Plus, all the food production units are fully serviced so there was no additional investment in the site needed.”
Clandeboye Estate Yoghurt started in a single unit with its first sales from a stall at St George’s Market.
As it began to supply the Hastings Hotel Group and then all the major supermarkets in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, it took an additional three units.
Now with the new creamery allowing for increased capacity, the company is looking into new markets, particularly in England, Scotland and Wales, which would require a massive increase in production.
Highlighting the dedication and committment of his staff and family to ensure a smooth transition in the expansion and relocation, Brian explained: “Our close-knit team has played a hugely important role in this move and this new purpose-built factory will allow us to grow further.
“We are right on the parkland at Clandeboye and can see the cows that produce our milk out the window, so it’s a real farm to spoon journey.”
Nichola Lockhart, CEO of Ards Business Hub, said that she and her team were proud of the role they played in helping this thriving business through its journey from start up to becoming a major supplier of high-quality local yoghurt.
She added: “Clandeboye Estate Yoghurt is one of Northern Ireland’s true food heroes.
“They had a clear vision to create an artisan product and built their business through quality, hard work and dedication.
“Ards Business Hub is a social enterprise and our aim is to help businesses grow and flourish and we are delighted with the success of this company.”
All the food production businesses are located within the Hub’s Strangford Park site giving tenants access 24 hours a day seven days a week. As the food businesses are located within the same area it is a good networking opportunity which may be beneficial for new businesses.
The yoghurts have won numerous accolades including three stars in the Great Taste Awards, Gold in The Blas na hEireann, and UK and Irish Quality Food Awards.