Belfast Telegraph

IFEX at Titanic Exhibition will preserve and promote the finest in NI produce

By Margaret Canning

A preserves business specialising in unlikely flavours is among food companies taking part in a major industry event from today.

Paula Latuske and Trudy Hodkinson from Moira set up Hollah Preserving around 18 months ago.

They set out to embrace quirky flavours and have developed combinations like chilli strawberry and prosecco, and vodka and cranberry.

And the pair said they hoped to pick up new customers - and secure a listing with national retailers - by taking part in IFEX at Titanic Exhibition.

The food and drink expo takes place every two years and this year expects to draw 5,000 visitors.

As well as small producers like Hollah Preserving, the 140 exhibitors also include big players such as the catering companies Brakes, Henderson Foodservice and Lynas Foods.

Paula Latuske said: "We have been overwhelmed by the response to our products in the independent retail trade.

"After months spent planning and developing our business, we're confident that we've created a range that's different and very special. Therefore the time is right to expand our customer base and secure larger deals across the province."

Kevin and Julie Hickey from Co Londonderry are also taking their business Tamnagh Foods to IFEX.

The husband and wife make cheeses and granolas for sale in independent retailers such as farm shops, as well as to hotels and restaurants, through a deal with Henderson Foodservice.

"We're based in the village of Park in the Sperrin Mountains, and got started in our food business five years ago. We converted an old shed into somewhere we could develop our cheeses. We've made a cheese called Sperrin Blue and three others, Banagher Bold, Kilcreen and Dart Mountain Dusk.

"We are quite small but we're efficient in what we do - and we think we make great products."

A fourth cheese called Tirkeeran will also be launched by the couple when it matures in May.

They have a supply contract with Henderson Foodservice so will be showing off their cheeses at the Henderson stand.

Mr Hickey said they hoped to secure additional business by taking part in the show.

He previously worked for a group of organic farmers, while he and his Boston-born wife also ran a restaurant called Gravy in Londonderry.

Larne social enterprise Clearer Water, which is owned by Maureen Hanvey, is also taking part. And the company aims to have a positive social impact by investing all of its profits back into social enterprises. Jarlath Stories of Jude's Estate Coffee, which is roasted in Co Antrim, will also be attending.

Organisers Fresh Montgomery said all exhibition space had sold out ahead of target.

IFEX 2016 continues until Thursday at the Titanic Exhibition Centre

Belfast Telegraph