A bakery in Co Armagh has said it’s on track to open one of Europe’s biggest sites for gluten-free baking in a £4m investment which is bringing 20 new jobs.
Stone Bakery in Crossmaglen is refurbishing and extending a factory where it plans to produce artisan-style vegan, dairy free, and gluten free flatbreads for domestic and export markets.
The expansion could help the business to double its turnover over the next three years.
The factory has been used for baking for around 80 years, and with the extension, would become one of Europe’s biggest gluten-free bakeries.
Ronan McNamee, owner of Stone Bakery, said: “The McNamee family has been baking in Crossmaglen for over 80 years and I’m incredibly proud to continue that tradition with the opening of the first dedicated ‘free-from’ manufacturing facility in Northern Ireland.
"This investment will allow us to continue the world-class bakery tradition in Crossmaglen while fulfilling the fast-growing consumer demand for ‘free-from’ products.”
He said consumer trust in the food chain was now a major driver for growth. “Delivering on our ambition to be the most trusted gluten-free, dairy-free and vegan bakery brand in the world, our new Stone Bakery manufacturing site will enable us to control the entire chain from seed to shelf and continue to supply the best quality flatbreads in the market with total processing transparency.”
Economic development agency Invest NI has offered the company £425,000 towards its expansion, including specialist equipment.
Brian Dolaghan, executive director of Invest NI said: “We’re delighted to support Stone Bakery’s innovative new business in Northern Ireland.
"The growth of the ‘free-from’ food market is continuing, and Stone Bakery has its sights set on growing its share of this market across GB, Europe and beyond, including North America.
“With our support, the company is purchasing new equipment to help it streamline its manufacturing processes and create new career opportunities for people in the locality.
"The new operation will have a positive impact on the Armagh, Banbridge & Craigavon Borough Council area, contributing almost £1m in additional annual salaries to the Northern Ireland economy once the jobs are in place.”