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Lisnaskea company lands £1.2m contract to supply Netherlands

Fermanagh bacon will soon be gracing the dinner plates of households throughout the Netherlands thanks to a £1.2m deal with one of the region's largest supermarkets.

Kettyle Irish Foods, which is based in Lisnaskea, has sealed the 12-month contract with Albert Heijn, one of the biggest retailers in Europe.

Its Fermanagh bacon, dry cured using seaweed, will be part of the supermarket's 'Excellence' food range that includes products which use sustainable farming and processing techniques.

The product is the first from Northern Ireland to be included in the range although the company has said it's been operating in the European market for a number of years.

Parent company Linden Foods, based in Dungannon, already supplies Albert Heijn.

"We were asked by the retailer if we could supply them with sustainably produced bacon from outdoor-bred pigs, which we have been able to do," chief executive of Kettyle Irish Foods Maurice Kettyle said.

"We decided to offer them a unique Fermanagh bacon from outdoor pigs that also features a distinctively different curing process using seaweed that's readily available around our shores.

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"The buyers there loved our samples and placed a contract with us that could be worth around £1.2m over the next 12 months.

"It's an extremely exciting development that gives us an important platform for further growth with the chain in the Netherlands and will encourage us to explore opportunities in other European markets," he added.

Based at Manderwood Business Park in Lisnaskea, Kettyle Irish Foods specialises in dry-aging techniques and has been assisted to expand its European markets, grow its business and develop skills through a series of Invest NI programmes. The company has won a series of industry awards including, most recently, three gold stars in the UK Great Taste Awards for its dry-aged bone marrow butter.

It gained a further two-star gold which was awarded for dry-aged wing rib steak. Other awards were achieved for its dry-aged fillet steak, dry-aged ribeye steak and bacon.

Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster said: "It's tremendously encouraging to see premium dry-cured bacon in the chill cabinets of one of the most respected and influential European retailers.

"Kettyle Irish Foods, an award-winning company which has pioneered dry-aged beef and bacon, has been quick to recognise a developing market trend in the Netherlands for foods which combine taste and sustainability.

"Other leading retailers in Europe are also starting to insist that suppliers show solid evidence of a commitment to sustainability.

"It's a trend which could have a profound impact on the food businesses here and indeed throughout Europe."