Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster and Finance Minister Simon Hamilton have praised Comber company, Mash Direct, for its achievements in international markets through a commitment to innovation.
The Ministers were speaking at an event held to mark the 10th anniversary of the company’s formation. Mash Direct started life in 2004 as a farm diversification project by husband and wife team, Martin and Tracy Hamilton and their two sons, Lance and Jack and now employs over 120 people in one of the most modern and innovative processing facilities in the UK.
Minister Foster said: “Mash Direct is a superb example of how the enterprise has transformed from a small family farm into an award-winning and increasingly successful exporter.
“The Hamilton family have shown outstanding commitment to both their family run enterprise and the food industry. Innovation and new product development have been at the forefront of the business and their dedication is a source of inspiration to others in the farming, food and business communities.”
Mash Direct sources the majority of the fresh potatoes and vegetables from the family farm, in addition to buying from other Northern Irish suppliers. There are now 37 different dishes in the company’s product portfolio.
The Minister continued: “The company is now a market leader in vegetable accompaniments with an impressive range of convenience meals and ‘food to go’ dishes supplying many of the leading retailers in Britain, the Republic of Ireland, Europe, the US and the United Arab Emirates. Indeed I was with the Company Directors during Gulf Food Expo in Dubai in 2012 when they signed a significant contract with Spinney’s, one of the biggest and most influential retailers in the Middle East.
“Mash Direct has a longstanding engagement with Invest Northern Ireland and has benefited from a range of support to enable the company to target export opportunities. Its exceptional achievements in markets outside Northern Ireland have led to an impressive list of international awards, the most recent being in the UK ‘Free From’ Food Awards at the end of March.
“Endorsements from influential bodies such as the UK Guild of Fine Food, Food Manufacturing Excellence, Deloitte, Quality Food Awards and The Grocer are testimony to the professionalism of the business and the outstanding quality of their products.”
Finance Minister Simon Hamilton said: “Mash Direct is a shining example of a company in the agri-food sector which is driving our local economy forward during a tough economic climate.
“By using innovative processes the company produces a range of delicious quick serve products which appeal to changes in eating habits and lifestyles. Mash Direct has successfully evolved from a small cottage-style business into a world class company exporting their products to a growing number of countries worldwide.
“With their competitive marketing and modern professional approach to change, Mash Direct will continue to grow both in the local market and the export market.”