Co Down food producer Willowbrook opens new £700k production facility

John McCann, managing director, Willowbrook Foods, at the company's new production facility
Gareth McKeown

IRELAND'S largest bagged salad producer Willowbrook Foods has opened a new £700,000 production facility in Co Down.

The fresh foods producer has developed a state-of-the-art production facility in Newtownards, which the company hopes will enhance production, facilitate new product development and grow sales across Ireland and Britain.

The site, owned by Willowbrook for several years, has been completely modernised to incorporate blast chillers, steam boilers, floored drainage systems and technology that will boost efficiency and quality at production level. Through the new plant, the company is seeking to more than double the output of its range of over 20 cooked vegetable products from 120 tonnes to 250 tonnes weekly.

All production of Willowbrook's cooked products has been moved to Newtownards from its existing Killinchy base, which remains the site of the company's main offices, its Food Innovation Centre and production plant for salad and bagged continental lettuce products.

All production staff have also been moved to the Newtownards site and a number of new employees are being recruited to bolster the production team. Willowbrook has also announced that it is exploring plans to redevelop its Killinchy site for further product innovation in the near future.

Managing director, John McCann new production facility marks an exciting "new chapter" for the company.

"It will allow us to focus on product innovation and maximising growth opportunities in the retail, foodservice and food manufacturing sectors across the UK and Ireland," he said

“Our prepared mashed vegetable products - potato, carrots, turnips, swede and parsnips, butternut squash and sweet potato – will be key during the year ahead, particularly within the foodservice and catering sectors."

"By sourcing the very best technology from across the globe, we are now well placed to offer tailored solutions for our various customer bases – from retailers to ready meal companies," Mr McCann added.

Willowbrook, which supplies prepared vegetables, bagged salads, salad bowls and meal accompaniments, recently secured €2.5m additional business in the Republic for 2018 and is rolling out a targeted growth strategy, including the appointment of dedicated sales staff for Scotland, England and Ireland.

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