Henderson Group pushes fresh credentials with locally sourced barbecue range at Spar Northern Ireland

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L to r: Stuart Best from Willowbrook Foods with Neal Kelly, fresh foods director, Henderson Group

Fresh food has been a continued focus for Spar in Northern Ireland for 2014, and its latest barbecue offering is a firm response to that.

Henderson Group’s fresh foods division has confirmed that 100% of its fresh barbecue items are from local suppliers in Northern Ireland. A figure that the company is striving towards for its entire fresh offering.

Neal Kelly, fresh foods director at Henderson Group, said: “We are responding to a consumer demand that our retailers are experiencing thanks to a number of trends and factors. For example, we know that an increasing number of shoppers are buying little and often, which is where convenience really comes into play.”

Summer 2013 was one of the hottest and sunniest Northern Ireland has experienced in years, and the response was to pop into their local shop for some meat and salads and light the barbeque in the garden.

Neal said: “Our 2013 sales results prove this change in shopping trends thanks to the warmer weather, with a 48% year-on-year increase in seasonal product sales over the summer months. Our retailers are based in communities where shoppers are no longer doing a ‘big shop’ – especially when taking advantage of good weather days. They have the demand and we are delighted to provide an offering that responds to it.”

Spar’s fresh summer eating consists of meat, poultry, sausages, chops, salads and fresh accompaniments such as houmous and salsa from suppliers based in Northern Ireland. These include Willowbrook Foods in Killinchy, Fred C Robinson in Ballyclare, Rockvale Poultry in County Armagh and Avondale Foods in Craigavon, to name a few.

Products including BBQ chicken wings, pork and steak sausages, hot and spicy ribs and peppered pork chops are all of the highest quality but also affordable, with many of the products within the two for £6 price point. In 2013, the Spar Premium Pork and Apple Sausages produced for the retailer by Doherty & Gray in Ballymena were shortlisted for an Irish Quality Award showing the standard that the retailer is providing.

Popular accompaniments also make a return for this year’s summer eating offering, including Pesto Pasta Salad, Beetroot Salad and Mixed Bean Salad which were new last year and have proved popular with retailers and consumers.

There is also a fresh new sandwich offer for retailers to avail of which Henderson Group has developed with AroundNoon, based in Newry. Packaging and recipes have been refreshed, keeping popular combinations at an affordable price. The lunch-to-go selection also includes a range of pre-prepared fresh leaf and noodle salads.

Neal said: “This entire range is produced with shoppers’ needs in mind; we know our shoppers and feel this is reflected in what we are now offering. May the sun shine as brightly this year and bring continued summer success for our local retailers.”