A MEAT processing company in Tyrone is creating nearly 180 new jobs to boost its share of the convenience food market.
Linden Foods in Dungannon – part of the Fane Valley group – is creating 179 posts, of which the majority will be in production.
A small number will be managerial positions.
The company is making a total investment of £5m, towards which Invest NI has offered £520,000 in support under its Jobs Fund, set up to help firms to take on new staff more quickly.
With the salaries tipped to contribute £2.5m per year to the economy, the jobs are estimated as paying an average of £14,000 each.
Linden Foods is one of the biggest players in meat processing in the UK.
It sources and processes beef and lamb for supermarkets, convenience food manufacturers and the wider meat packaging industry in the UK and Europe.
Lidl, Marks and Spencer and Morrisons are its main UK supermarket customers.
Trevor Lockhart, chairman of Linden Foods and chief executive of Fane Valley, said: "This investment is an important part of our long term development strategy and underlines our commitment to the Dungannon area.
"The support from Invest NI through its Jobs Fund will allow us to create the workforce we need to meet the demand for our range of new and innovative products among export customers and enable us to cement our leading position in the meat processing industry."
Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster said the investment was "welcome news" for the food industry, a major contributor to the economy.
"The 179 new production and managerial positions, to be created in Dungannon with support from the Jobs Fund, will generate over £2.5m annually in additional salaries. This is a fantastic boost to the local area, the local community and to the wider Northern Ireland economy.
"Linden Foods has demonstrated a clear desire to continually innovate, maintain its reputation for quality products and retain its focus on growing export sales of its products for the retail sector. Invest Nl's support will enable this progressive meat processing firm to recruit its new staff members quickly and capitalise on growth opportunities within the convenience food market."
In 2011, Linden Foods opened a site including a development kitchen for 'value-added' meat products – such as kebabs and burgers – for the retail market.
The company was formed in 1998 following the merger of Milltown and Granville.
The support from Invest NI through its Jobs Fund will allow us to create the workforce we need to meet the demand for our range