Baby food firm takes bite of Bahrain market
Organic products deal could be 'springboard into the Middle East'
A Co Tyrone woman who has won export business to the Gulf state of Bahrain with her organic baby food is eyeing further expansion into the Middle East.
Award-winning Heavenly Tasty Organics will supply fruit and vegetable puree meals to the Al Osra group of supermarkets in its first ever contract outside the British Isles.
The company, formed in 2011 by Shauna McCarney-Blair, makes a range of 11 baby weaning meals, which are described as 100% natural and dairy-free. Nine of her products are also gluten-free.
Mrs McCarney-Blair said that while Bahrain is a relatively small market, there is a significant ex-patriate population in the region and the contract could act as a springboard to other and much larger markets.
The "mum-trepreneur" received support from Invest NI, which arranged for her to meet a distributor of UK foods to Al Osra.
"We provided samples of some of our products suitable for Gulf markets and subsequently received an initial order for our fruit and vegetable purees for babies aged seven months and over," she said.
"This is an immensely exciting opportunity for us and one we will be endeavouring to develop further in the months ahead.
The company is also following up enquiries from France and Germany after taking part in major international trade shows such as SIAL in Paris.
The firm's products include lentil and chicken blend, lentil and vegetable soup and pasta and tomato for babies. The business has already won awards from organisations including the Soil Association, Women in Business in Northern Ireland, and Maternity and Infant magazine in the Republic of Ireland.
Barry McBride, Invest NI's international marketing director, said that the deal shows what a small company can achieve with the right products.
He added: "Our marketing team in Dubai will readily work alongside the company to build on the business in Bahrain and strengthen its position in the wider and very affluent Gulf marketplace."
The firm has also used Invest NI's design development programme to develop a new corporate identity and improve the packaging for its products.