Two Northern Irish seafood processors have joined forces to achieve Halal accreditation that will enable them to win more business throughout the Middle East.

The two companies, Ewing Seafood, Belfast’s oldest fishmonger, and Glenarm Organic Salmon, Northern Ireland’s only fish farming business, are aiming to develop sales of smoked salmon in these buoyant markets.

Two Northern Irish seafood processors have joined forces to achieve Halal accreditation that will enable them to win more business throughout the Middle East.
Two Northern Irish seafood processors have joined forces to achieve Halal accreditation that will enable them to win more business throughout the Middle East.

Both companies have been developing business contacts particularly in the United Arab Emirates for the salmon products. Ewing Seafood slowly smokes organic salmon sourced from Glenarm in its own kiln over a fragrant mix of beech and oak wood chips. 

While the salmon has already been ordered by leading hotels in Dubai, both companies recognised that building greater business in the Emirates and other markets across the Middle East required Halal accreditation.

“Interest in our smoked salmon, particularly in the Emirates, is immensely encouraging. Existing customers were impressed by the taste and texture of the salmon that are influenced by the fish farm location in the cold and invigorating waters of the Irish Sea,” says Crawford Ewing, a director of the family-run Ewing Seafood.

“What we bring to the salmon is a heritage in curing smoking fresh fish that stretches back a century and in our traditional kiln using handcrafting techniques. We use a unique recipe which gives the salmon a distinctively rich flavour that was recognised this year by in the UK Great Taste Awards,” he adds.

Omagh-based, Heavenly Tasty Organics has received a Highly Commended award at the Soil Association Organic Food Awards for its unique range of frozen baby weaning meals. The company, based at Omagh Business Complex, is also celebrating a listing by Dunnes, the leading Irish retainer, for its products.

Shauna McCarney with some of the Heavenly Tasty Organics range.
Shauna McCarney with some of the Heavenly Tasty Organics range.

The Organic Food Awards 2012 were announced last night (Thursday  6th September)  as part of this year’s Organic September, Europe’s biggest celebration of all things organic. Now in their 24th year, the Soil Association Organic Food Awards recognise and celebrate the highest quality organic food and drink. The awards are among the most prestigious and widely respected in the UK food sector.  

Heavenly Tasty Organics was highly commended for three of their puree flavours – apple, pear and butternut squash – in convenient packs each containing 4 heart shaped portions for mothers weaning babies from four to six months upwards. All the products are suitable for mums seeking vegetarian and allergen-free foods for babies.

UK Celebrity chef Mark Hix has given Northern Irish beef another massive endorsement for taste and premium quality.

Peter Hannon
Peter Hannon

Hix is to serve salt-aged beef from the Glenarm Estate in county Antrim in his latest restaurant in London. The steak will be ‘Mighty Marbled Sirloin’ from the Glenarm Shorthorn Beef producer group provided by Hannan Meats, the award winning Northern Irish beef  and bacon processor, which ages the meat using a unique Himalayan salt chamber at its plant at Moira in county Down.

The new London restaurant, which will be located at Bishopsgate, will focus on Hannan’s Glenarm salt-aged steak and also chicken. The decision by Hix to focus on Glenarm steak follows on the outstanding success achieved with Hannan’s salt-aged beef at the multi award winning Tramshed, another restaurant, which is located at Shoreditch.

Commenting on the new restaurant, Hix says: “Our chicken and steak offering at Tramshed in Shoreditch, which is perfect for sharing, has been enormously well received.


Boilie, the unique Irish cow’s and goat’s cheese pearls from Fivemiletown Creamery in Northern Ireland, have been described by The Grocer, Britain’s leading retail publication, as ‘a regional gem’ and ranked among the top 20 UK cheeses.

The Grocer’s expert judging panel described Boilie as a “simple yet brilliantly executed idea, which encourages consumers to use cheese more as an ingredient. Boilie already has a fair few regional listings in the mults (multiple retailers), and we think these light and creamy pearls deserve even wider recognition”.

The influential endorsement of Boilie cheese pearls features in the latest issue of The Grocer’s highly regarded Dairymen publication which reports on the latest developments across the UK dairy industry. The Dairymen is the industry’s most comprehensive and prestigious publication.

The Grocer judges sampled cheeses from many parts of the UK including the complete range of Fivemiletown Creamery’s Boilie, which is available in both cow’s and goat’s milk variants. In addition to the original Boilie, which is infused with garlic oil and herbs, the product is now available in three filled varieties – cream cheese, basil pesto and sundried tomato and herb.

Kevin McManus, Fivemiletown Creamery’s sales manager, says: “It’s a marvellous endorsement of the originality and quality of our Boilie cheese by the industry’s most important publication. It gives the new Boilie range a tremendous boost as we seek to build sales in Britain and further afield.

“Boilie was created back in the mid-1920s and continues today to be produced lovingly lovingly made by hand using the original recipe. The new filled cheese pearls are intended to be used to give meals such as pizza and pasta a deliciously different flavour.”

Boilie is produced by Fivemiletown’s expert cheesemakers in County Tyrone from high protein milk supplied by the creamery’s network of farmers. The cheese is rooted in Irish tradition - the name boilie means ‘milking place’ in Irish.

Founded in 1898 by farmers in the Fivemiletown area, Fivemiletown Creamery remains a farmers’ co-operative of around 80 dairy farmers. The creamery has achieved Red Tractor quality accreditation and currently employs 80 people.

Hannan Meats, the award winning Northern Irish meat business specialising in foodservice, has won its first business for salt-aged beef in France.

The company, which had an unprecedented five steak products listed in the prestigious Top 50 Foods by the UK Guild of Fine Food, has recently started supplying salt-aged beef to a network of Michelin star restaurants in Paris and other centres as a result of a distribution agreement.

Peter Hannon
Peter Hannon

The contract followed a visit to Hannan Meats by a Paris-based beef specialist organised by UK Trade and Investment that included a tour of the company’s unique Himalayan Salt Chamber, the world’s biggest which is located at its processing plant in Moira, county Down.

The Northern Irish company, owned and run by Peter Hannan, who has vast experience in beef and bacon production, was named Supreme Champion in the Great Taste Awards 2012/13 and Best Speciality Food from Northern Ireland in the most recent 2013/14 competition.

The company’s successful move into exports has been achieved over the past year and also includes Portugal, again assisted by UKTI, and is likely to see the beef appearing in upmarket restaurants in Milan soon. 

3 July 2012 Record sales of produce best-ever trading performance Fivemiletown Creamery, Northern Ireland’s leading speciality cheese business, enjoyed the best-ever trading performance in its 114-year history last year.

The creamery, in the year ended 31 December 2011, saw sales of its extensive portfolio of branded cheddars and particularly its award winning soft cheeses, including Boilie, a unique Irish marinaded product, in markets outside Northern Ireland rise by 50 per cent to a record level of £24.5 million. Pre-tax profits rose to £421,000.

Boilie is a unique Irish marinaded product
Boilie is a unique Irish marinaded product

Last year the creamery, which now sources high protein milk for its handcrafted cheeses from dairy farms across Northern Ireland, strengthened sales of its branded products with foodservice organisations, wholesalers and retailers in Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland through extensive investment in market development.

The creamery, which employs 90 people in Fivemiletown and holds Red Tractor and British Retail Consortium Grade A accreditations, now has a five-strong marketing team in Cheshire and supplies all the leading grocery retailers as well as 35 wholesalers and almost 4,000 delis and farm shops in Britain.

The year also saw significant growth in premium own label cheese provided to Lidl and Musgrave Group.

Mervyn McCaughey, Fivemiletown Creamery’s managing director, commenting on the company’s trading performance last year, said: “What’s immensely encouraging in the figures is the spectacular growth from our pre-packed cheddars and particularly from our existing range soft cheeses.

Top chef and restaurateur Mark Hix is showcasing meat from his Northern Irish supplier, Hannan Meats, at a unique feast for gourmands in his Oyster and Chop House restaurant in London next month.

Mark Hix
Mark Hix

Hix, owner of seven high-end restaurants, has created ‘An Evening with Hix, Hannan and Hutton’ at the restaurant, near London’s Smithfield Market, with a characteristically different and deliciously meaty menu for the dinner on 1st October.

Featuring on the menu is the award winning ‘Mighty Marbled’ beef from Hannan Meats in Moira, County Antrim, the meat processor which gained an all time record of 26 gold stars in this year’s UK Guild of Fine Food’s Great Taste Awards.  Hannan was also the recent recipient of the Hix Supplier Award for its superb range of meats and exceptional service.

Meat for the prestigious event is being aged for richer flavours in the Himalayan salt chamber at Hannan Meats, the only one of its type in Europe. The beef will be aged in the salt chamber for six weeks before being shipped to London for the event.

Diners will be briefed about cooking steak by Hix, how Hannan Meats selects its meat from grass-fed Glenarm Shorthorn, European Angus, and Hereford animals bred and raised in Northern Ireland by Peter Hannan, and the best wine for a fabulously beefy menu by John Hutton of Fields Morris Verdin, the respected London wine merchant.

Award-winning gourmet fudge and sauce business, Blackthorn Foods is planning a significant expansion in capacity to meet fast growing sales in Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland.

Blackthorn Foods, based in east Belfast, experienced a 50 per cent growth in sales of its handmade and hand wrapped fudge range last year and has recently secured an important contract from Lakeland, the UK home shopping store, which will see its ‘Melting Pot’ brand premium fudge featuring in the top retailer’s hampers.

Three enterprising sisters at Blackthorn Foods: Dorothy Bittles, Cathy Johnson and Jenny Lowry
Three enterprising sisters at Blackthorn Foods: Dorothy Bittles, Cathy Johnson and Jenny Lowry

The company, which has won a series of UK Great Taste Awards for quality fudge, is planning to more than triple production capacity to meet demand for existing products and new gourmet sauces to be launched soon. 

The growth in sales has also been driven by innovative products including two Fudge Fondue flavours, original and chocolate, in distinctive terracotta pots successfully launched last year in Britain and the Republic of Ireland.

“Fudge Fondue is proving to be very important diversification for us and has filled a market gap for a gourmet fudge-based dip that can be heated quickly in a microwave or used on a barbecue.