Mash Direct (www.mashdirect.com), the award-winning ‘field-to-fork’ vegetable accompaniments brand, has added £2 million to its turnover in this financial year following soaring demand across the nation for vegetables, in particular prepared vegetables. The company achieved sales growth of 9% in the financial year ending 2022.
The Northern Irish business is renowned for producing award-winning vegetable side dishes, including Beer Battered Chips, Broccoli with a Cheese Sauce, Cauliflower Cheese Gratin and Beer Battered Onion Rings, which are sold at retailers such as Co-Op, Morrisons and Ocado. Despite the pandemic, Mash Direct have met shopper’s demand for vegetables, as they look for products to boost their health and make meal preparation more convenient.
People were looking for quality and provenance in 2021 as sales for the Mash Direct range grew by 9%, which was more than double the growth of the ready meals category (3.6%) in the UK. Consumers were also looking for convenience, with Mash Direct’s sales booming while the market for fresh potatoes fell by £71 million in 2021.
The growth in sales has been supported by the £7.5 million Mash Direct invested into the business in the last year, which has served to increase factory capacity and staffing levels. The investment also helped the brand continue its pledges to bolster its sustainability credentials, commitments which have seen it secure listings with Co-Op and Morrisons in recent months.
The re-investment has allowed an increase in salary costs to attract new talent and deliver further growth; with thirty-one new positions being created in the last twelve months, including Production Management at the factory’s brand-new Fry line and roles within IT, Health & Safety, HR, and Marketing.
The brand’s factory expansion and new office build on site in County Down is now complete, with modernisation techniques including packing robots already installed. The farm has grown from farming 70 acres in 2003 to 1,600 acres in 2021. Traditional varieties of vegetables are grown, with the entire range being cooked on site. In addition, a second Fry Line, new digital requisition and purchase order system and new barcode/warehouse system are key elements of the expansion to help facilitate an increase in demand and capacity.
Mash Direct is also investing in sustainability. The company have recruited a Sustainability Manager as well as developing a strong Sustainability Plan including a pledge to be net zero by 2030 and putting eco-scores on the front of their products. This has included investment into infrastructure projects such as rainwater harvesting, a dedicated recycling plant and investment of £1.1 million into a new waste-water treatment facility.
Jack Hamilton, chief executive officer at Mash Direct, comments: “Fundamental to Mash Direct’s growth strategy is a continual commitment to innovation and expanding our team, our capabilities, and our sustainability. As a result, Mash Direct’s sales growth exceeded 9% in the year ending February 2022, despite the global pandemic. We are looking forward to continuing to invest in our business and our people here at Mash Direct, alongside our commitment to being even more sustainable as a company.”
The company recently published its results for the year ending 28 February 2021. Despite the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the Food Service sector and the company’s cost base, Mash Direct still managed to achieve 0.9% growth in sales and maintain gross profit margins.
Mash Direct is a sixth-generation family farming business currently owned and run by Martin and Tracy Hamilton and their sons, Jack, and Lance. Over the past 17 years from the initial dream of making traditional ‘Ulster’ Champ for convenience in 2004, the Hamilton family has grown Mash Direct into a National household brand, employing 245 people, and producing over 50 farm fresh products, which have won 25 Great Taste Awards.
From innovative creations, like Beer Battered Onion Rings and Potato, Cheese & Onion Croquettes, to culinary classics, like Broccoli with a Cheese Sauce, and seasonal editions, including Neeps & Tatties, there are Mash Direct products for every occasion. All products are cooked to perfection and are the ideal accompaniment to individual home cooked meals, Sunday lunches or family celebrations. Suitable for microwave and oven heating.