Belfast Telegraph

Avondale Foods keeps on growing with recipe for success

By Lindsay Fergus

Fifty years ago this year a small family business was formed by two brothers in Craigavon. Harry and Derek Geddis established Avondale Foods after identifying a gap in the market for pre-packed vegetables.

Although they initially grew the vegetables themselves, as demand for their products increased, produce was sourced from local growers - allowing Avondale Foods more time to focus on product development.

That move proved a recipe for success with the company now manufacturing and supplying the UK and Ireland's leading multiple retailers with side salads, vegetable accompaniments, soups, sauces and dips.

Avondale Foods' clients include Asda, Costcutter, Dunnes, Marks & Spencer, Morrisons, Sainsbury's, Spar, Superquinn and Tesco. It also exports to Holland and France.

Its product range now spans coleslaws and potato salads, side salads, salad meals, fresh soup, vegetable accompaniments, porridge, bakery, dressings and sauces.

Its growth has also seen its workforce increase to 380 with further expansion on the cards for 2015.

Marketing manager Dawn Cann (below) said: "We have a programme in place to expand our facilities over the next 12 months at an estimated cost of £1.5m."

Avondale Foods prides itself on its research and development but is tight-lipped about products to come in 2015.

Its new product development team has built a centre of excellence which creates products to meet ever-changing consumer demands.

They travel the world to seek out new ideas to keep Avondale Foods ahead of the competition.

The department is staffed by trained experts including food scientists, development chefs and engineers who keep Avondale Foods products and processes innovative.

And that is one of the factors to which Ms Cann attributes to the company's success.

"Product development remains at the core of the company's ongoing success.  We develop products in accordance with emerging trends and most importantly to suit consumers ever changing requirements," she said.

Yet one of Avondale Foods' best-selling products remains one that has been on the market for 15 years.

Ms Cann said: "We have a number of very successful products under supermarket own label.  Under our own Country Kitchen brand, the most popular products would be Deli Selection Coleslaw which is finely shredded cabbage, carrot and onion wrapped in a creamy mayonnaise and Vegetable Broth which has been on the market for 15 years and is still a firm favourite due to the fact it tastes home-made."

And Avondale Foods is obviously doing something right - growth has remained steady and the company is estimating a turnover of £47m for this year.

Last month it was also named overall winner at the Ulster Bank Business Achiever Awards national final in Dublin.

The judges said: "Avondale Foods is a deserving winner of the food and drink award category as they are a well-established company with steady growth which continues to innovate with constant market analysis and serious ambitions to expand further into Europe and beyond."

"We are delighted to have won this award as it serves to highlight the company's ongoing success and showcases the Avondale team's hard work and commitment," said Ms Cann.

Belfast Telegraph