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Co Armagh snack food firm adding 20 new jobs in 'record' sales year

By John Mulgrew

A Co Armagh food company is creating 20 new jobs as part of £2m expansion amid a record year of sales.

Kestrel Foods, which is based in Craigavon, makes a range of dried fruit and nut snacks, including its Forest Feast brand, sold across supermarkets.

The family-run business now exports to 36 countries, and says the investment will be to support its Forest Feast and Acti-Snack brands.

Sales across the company have grown to £14.2m for the year to April 2016.

Michael Hall, managing director, said the company is now on course to hit annual sales of £20m by 2020.

The company has also invested more than £750,000 in the last few years in processing and packaging technology.

The latest expansion will see its workforce grow from 72 to around 90, over the next three years.

"This hands-on experience of the different characteristics of nuts, fruit and seeds from various, often vastly dissimilar growing regions ensures that the final consumer product is always second to none," Mr Hall said.

"Our 20-year relationship with the PREDA Fair Trade foundation, based in the Philippines, has been a major factor in building a sustainable future for the communities from which we source and has helped both businesses grow significantly over the years."

The firm's financial controller, Lorraine McAfee, said Kestrel is projecting further export growth for Forest Feast and Acti-Snack over the next three years.

"Forest Feast has successfully established itself in the premium snack sector and we envisage unveiling even more new product options in the next 12 months.

"Over the next three years we anticipate growing our export base, especially in regions such as the US and Asia.

"Acti-Snack, meanwhile, is gaining a solid foothold in the UK and Ireland's health and fitness sector and proving itself as a fantastic product for those seeking energy pre, post and during exercise. We have huge confidence that sales of Acti-Snack will continue to rise this financial year and beyond."

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