Father and son butchers raise the ‘steaks' at Henderson supply awards

Gordon McAtamney of Ballymena butchers K&G McAtamney with Neal Kelly (Henderson Group) and broadcaster Jo Scott after taking the overall supplier of the year award at the annual Henderson Wholesale Fresh Innovation Awards. Photo: Kelvin Boyes/Press Eye
Gary McDonald b Business Editor

BALLYMENA-based father and son butchery business K&G McAtamney walked off with the top accolade at the Henderson Wholesale Fresh Innovation Awards, which recognise the importance of the supply chain into its growing retail operation.

As well as winning the own brand supplier of the year category, the butcher - run by Kieran & Gordon McAtamney since 2000 - claimed the overall supplier of the year, recognition of its contribution of more than 85 products to Henderson's 'enjoy local' and The Kitchen ranges, as well as for other exclusive products for Spar and EuroSpar.

When Kieran & Gordon opened their new contemporary premises nearly two decades ago they brought with them a wealth of knowledge going back as far as 1953 (Kieran's grandfather originally opened a butcher's shop in Kilrea he gained his early experience in that business).

The pair have created a unique new concept offering and extensive range of pre-packed beef, pork and chicken products which are available in 45 stores in Northern Ireland.

Indeed since partnering with Henderson Wholesale in 2013, the speciality producers have created 38 jobs. McAtamney also supplies other Spar wholesalers in England and Wales, and thanks to their relationship with Spar NI, now supply 80 per cent of their fresh meat.

Neal Kelly, fresh foods director at Henderson Wholesale, said K&G McAtamney were displaying everything that is great about local food producers, farmers and growers in Northern Ireland;

“The innovation they have displayed to create products for our own brand ranges, as well as our exclusive partnership brand of joints, steaks and fresh meat cuts is second to none. The fact that other Spar partners in England have decided to source their meat from a Northern Ireland producer says so much about the thriving industry here.”

Other winners at the awards breakfast included Gilfresh for its CSR and sustainability programmes in the Tomorrow Matters award; Hovis for Excellence in regional delivery and Cloughbane Farm Foods for excellence in product innovation.

Ross Irwin continued Irwin Bakery's winning legacy from 2018 after his uncle Brian took home the outstanding achievement to the agri-food industry award, by being named young agri-food innovator while Richardson's Quality Butchers in EuroSpar Lagan Valley was named in-store butcher of the year.

Paddy Doody, sales & marketing director at Henderson Group, says: “Being at the Balmoral Show is hugely important to us as a brand, and as a company we get essential face time with those at the front line of the industry, which gives us a chance to provide even more innovative and value products for our shoppers.

“'Local' is an important and consistent message which runs throughout our company and we intend to continue growing our local credentials and ensure we're delivering a provenance promise to every local community.”

The awards were independently scrutinised by a panel of experienced judges including food writer Sam Butler; CAFRE's head of food technology Joy Alexander; Dr Lynsey Hollywood, agri-food business development centre manager at the Ulster University Business School; Food NI chief executive Michele Shirlow; and Irish News business editor Gary McDonald.

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