Belfast Telegraph

Food and drink producers get taste of success at Ulster Bank's accolades for top business achievers

By Clare Weir

Northern Ireland food firms were given a big toast at the Ulster Bank Business Achievers awards.

Avondale Foods, which won the Food and Drink category, is a family-run company located just outside Lurgan on Chestnut Farm, established in 1965.

Avondale initially grew and sold vegetables before moving its focus to research and development and subsequently diversified into vegetable processing. With products supplied under its own label and Country Kitchen brands, the company supplies most major supermarkets. In 2015, Avondale Foods will celebrate 50 years in business and in the past year has invested over £20m back into the Northern Ireland economy.

Derek Geddis, co-chairman of Avondale Foods, who received his award from Ellvena Graham, head of Ulster Bank NI, said that winning the award was recognition for the firm's 480 employees and testimony to their ability and enthusiasm.

"The company is committed to investing £1.5m in capital expenditure over the next 12 months and we are confident that the strength and depth of talent within our workforce will enable us to face the competitive challenges ahead," he said. "The award shows our current customers that we are leading the field in what we do and we hope that this achievement will also help us increase our customer base in new markets as we approach our landmark anniversary of 50 years in business in 2015."

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."

Meanwhile, chief executive of international poultry giant Moy Park, Janet McCollum, received a Judges' Special Recognition Award.

Moy Park is a top 10 UK food business, providing poultry and convenience food products to major retailers and foodservice customers throughout the UK, Ireland and Europe.

As Northern Ireland's largest private sector firm, Moy Park employs 12,000 people across 16 sites in the UK and Europe.

Ms McCollum also paid tribute to her staff. "This recognition is not only testament to our business performance in recent years, but also to the whole team at Moy Park, whose passion and expertise has helped Moy Park grow into the company it is today," she said.

"We are a customer-focused business and share our successes with all those partners we work with throughout the supply chain."

Belfast Telegraph