Up to 55 new jobs are to be created at the Co Down food producer Willowbrook Fine Foods the company has condfirmed.
The jobs are part of a £2.3 million investment by the Killinchy firm announced by Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster.
“This is important investment by Willowbrook Fine Foods in the development of a portfolio of premium ready meals and meal accompaniments aimed principally at markets outside Northern Ireland,” she said.
“Marketed extensively under the Willowbrook Fine Foods brand, it is a welcome addition to Northern Ireland’s developing range of branded foods.
“This development also represents a significant boost for Northern Ireland’s £4.5billion food and drink industry offering worthwhile employment opportunities in the Killinchy and wider Co Down areas. In addition to employment in processing, there will be 16 senior posts in management and marketing. Overall, the 55 new jobs, which will be in place over the next three years, will have an average salary of around £19,000.
“I am pleased Invest Northern Ireland has supported this investment with assistance of £192,500 through their Jobs Fund. This support is in line with a key recommendation of Agri-Food Strategy Board’s Going for Growth strategic action plan for a sharper focus on market-led innovation in key sectors such as branded ready meals and convenience foods.”
Mr John McCann, Founder and Director of Willowbrook Fine Foods, said: “The new company will focus on a very dynamic sector of food particularly in Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland. This is the creation of innovative and premium ready meals and accompaniments.
“Willowbrook Fine Foods will exploit this market opportunity by providing different taste experiences using the best local ingredients which combine provenance, safety and value for money.
“We’ve already launched meal accompaniments such as Creamy Colcannon, Parmentier Potatoes and Honey and Mustard Parsnip created by the talented and experienced team in our innovation centre which works closely with customers on the development of meals with outstanding taste.
“The new company will process and market these and another 25 products in the pipeline which are all aimed at the mid to high-end market sectors in the UK and Republic of Ireland.
“The initiative is proving extremely popular and has already gained listings from key retailers.”