COUNTY Down food producers Finnebrogue Artisan and Mash Direct have teamed up in a first of its kind initiative to help ease cost-of-living pressures for their workforce.
They've committed products to each other on a weekly basis, which will enable them to create food bundles for staff comprising a balance of veg-based and protein-based products, and saving them an average £25 per week on their food shop.
And they’re calling on other local producers to step up and consider similar partnerships.
According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), food prices soared 16.9 per cent in 2022, electricity prices rose by 65.4 per cent and gas prices rose by 128.9 per cent, forcing people - even those in work - to struggle to make ends meet each month.
Finnebrogue’s head of HR Chris Overend said: “We employs 1,200 people at fours sites in Downpatrick, and over the past 12 months we’ve heard how our people are making spending adjustments, cutting back and really tightening belts – and we essentially wanted to help.
“We introduced free breakfast and lunch options to all staff at the start of 2022, which guaranteed a warm meal each day. We extended hybrid working with optional work-from-home days, to help reduce the fuel burden from travel costs.
“With our new initiative, in partnership with Mash Direct, we can go one step further. Food bundles will help the families of our employees to put good food on the table, even in the toughest weeks. And it’s food they’ve worked hard to make!
“Every employee can take home a hearty food bundle each week, comprising a mix of sausages, ham, bacon and healthy vegetable sides.”
Clare Forster, head of marketing at Mash Direct, added: “The food industry is fantastic for collaboration, and we are delighted to work together with Finnebrogue to provide support to our teams.
“The Food Shack is a way for the food industry to work together while energy prices continue to drive inflation.”
The Food Shack is open for a few hours each day so that all employees have the opportunity to collect their food bundle each week, which the employers value at around £25 per bundle.
Each employee has the opportunity shave around £100 each month from their food shopping bill, which is the equivalent cost of one week’s average food shop.