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Neill's shows some flour power as it marks 150 years

By Margaret Canning

Northern Ireland flour company Neill's has vowed to pursue product innovation as it marks 150 years in business.

The firm, which has been part of Primark parent company Associated British Foods (ABF) since the 1960s, is set to launch gluten-free ranges in the autumn.

The business will be launching home-baking kits for gluten-free Madeira-style cakes, sponge cakes and other products. At present, it produces flours including self-raising, plain, soda bread flour and coarse wholemeal.

Sales and marketing manager Karl McCrum said: "Our ultimate aim as we look ahead is to innovate more and look to the products that meet global trends.

"We will have gluten-free products out on supermarket shelves in September and October, and the quality is absolutely fantastic.

"The packaging is great and completely different from what we have in the home-baking category. We are also looking at other niche products that we can bring to the market."

Neill's employs around 48 people in Belfast and still operates from its original mill at College Place North in the city.

The company was founded by James Neill in 1867. He started out in 1851 as a clerk at Thomas McCammon's Indian Corn Mill and Tan Yard.

He then took over the company, changed its name and started to grind wheat to produce stoneground flour.

The business was then taken over by Allied Mills in the early 1960s and the mill refurbished in 1986. Another £200,000 was spent in 2010.

General manager Barry Kelly said: "There aren't many companies in Northern Ireland that are still in existence after 150 years and operating from their original premises, so we are extremely proud to be celebrating this truly significant milestone."

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