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Vegetable company hopes Brexit will sprout fresh opportunities

By Margaret Canning

Food company UMI Ireland has said it's hoping to find opportunities from Brexit following a major rebrand. The business, which specialises in vegetable products and value-added mushroom dishes, has also won three major awards.

It's based near Armagh on the Edenaveys Industrial Estate, and manufactures vegetable products as well as supplying loose, pre-packed and prepared Irish and British mushrooms.

Recent new products include Harvest & Made, which is a range of convenience foods.

The company has said it hoped to find opportunities for growth from Brexit which would outweigh any disadvantages.

Director Seamus Cassidy said: "Like many other businesses and particularly businesses within the Northern Ireland agri-food sector, and the unique situation we find ourselves in with our proximity to the border, there is a large degree of uncertainty regarding the actual impacts of Brexit.

"Of course, we can plan ahead and mitigate against foreseen circumstances. However, the truth is we don't yet know the extent, outcomes or effects of the Brexit negotiations.

"We do foresee that some opportunities will arise which we will pre-empt and develop, but the threats which may outweigh are unfortunately speculative at this moment in time."

The Armagh-based company started as Unimush Ireland in 1999, and focused on mushroom distribution and marketing. It was set up by Plunkett Curry and Mr Cassidy, who were combining 40 years of experience in the mushroom industry.

Around 10 years ago, it branched out into added-value mushroom products, and created the Mushroom House brand.

Listings then followed with UK and Irish retailers including Superquinn - now part of SuperValu - Dunnes Stores, Asda and Morrisons.

But the business recently rebranded as UMI Foods to reflect the growth of its prepared foods division, as well as its continued mushroom distribution and marketing work.

The company has won awards including Best Supplier of the Year at the Northern Ireland Food Manufacturing Awards.

It also won two major awards for its made-for-Asda savoury pies at The Grocer Own Label Awards and won the category champion award for its Asda Grower's Selection Creamy Chicken and Mushroom Pies.

It was also named innovation winner in the same category.

The company said the dishes had been developed as a healthier, protein-filled pie option.

And last year, it was listed in the London Stock Exchange 1000 Companies to Inspire Britain 2016. 

Mr Curry said the company was delighted at the awards.

He said: "As a forward-thinking fresh foods company, we remain committed to spearheading trends in the industry as leaders in our prepared foods division.

"Our associates have come to recognise us for our commitment on quality, our passion for innovation and our promise on service and reliability.

"These are values deeply embedded in our business and we are both absolutely delighted to have won this prestigious award, which is a testament to the commitment, hard work and dedication of all of the staff at UMI Foods.

"It's our first award following our recent rebrand to UMI Foods and we hope it will be the first of many."

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