Co Antrim food firm Buchanans targets new deals after opening £1m nut factory
A Co Antrim wholesale food firm has invested more than £1m to develop a new standalone 12,000 sq ft factory for its nut business, creating 13 jobs.
WG Buchanan and Son Ltd in Carrickfergus has also secured a new contract worth more than £1m with a major UK buying group for the supply of dried fruit and nuts.
The new posts - with an average salary of £17,000 - will include roles in sales, administration and production and processing, along with roles at management level.
The company, well-known to consumers as Buchanans, imports, packs and distributes rice, cereals, pulses, nuts and bakery ingredients, along with its renowned 'soup mix', the staple ingredient of traditional soups and broths.
Economic development agency Invest NI has offered the company £213,000 towards the factory build and the upgrading of machinery and equipment, to streamline its production process and increase efficiencies.
Philip Johnston, director of operations at Buchanans, said: "Although our nut products were already packed using dedicated machinery and strict allergen controls within our existing site, we are always conscious of the concern over nut allergies, especially peanuts.
"To remove potential cross contamination, we took the decision to invest in a new, completely separate processing and warehousing plant, to provide even greater assurance to our consumers.
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"I would like to thank Invest NI for its continued support throughout our journey so far.
"This substantial investment has already enabled us to grow sales in Great Britain, starting with a significant contract win, made possible by the increased capability our new factory has to offer.
"It will also provide additional capacity to grow our business in the Republic of Ireland, which is currently our biggest market outside the UK."
John Hood, director of food and drink at Invest NI, congratulated the company on its expansion.
"Buchanans is a well-established company, renowned for its quality, service, price and brand name," he said. "We have worked with it closely for many years, previously supporting its initial move to a 25,000 sq ft production facility at our Trooperslane Business Park in Carrickfergus.
"This recent support has helped Buchanans to develop a new standalone nut factory, complete with state-of-the-art processing and packing facilities, which has already led to substantial success in external markets.
"The new jobs will contribute £225,000 in additional salaries to the NI economy and is a great boost for the Antrim area."