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Lidl NI harvests new crop of home-grown artisan producers

From left, Sean Morgan, Oh So Lean; Ciara Rafferty and Frank Foster, Orchard Smokehouse; Sarah Matson, Natural Umber; and David Grant, The Little Meat Company.

Lidl Northern Ireland has added a new range of home-grown products from artisan food and drink producers, across all 202 island of Ireland stores as part of its Kick Start local supplier development programme.

The new products, which include smoked meats, award-winning apple cider vinegar, hearty meat pies, healthy ready meals and premium Irish gin, hit shelves today and will be available for a limited time.

Now in its third year, the Lidl Kick Start Programme is designed to help small and medium sized local food and drink producers grow their brand, build their supply network and reach new customer audiences with the potential to open up new export opportunities.

Previous Kick Start success stories include Noisy Snacks based in Newtownards, Copeland Spirits distilled in Donaghadee and Refuge Hot Chocolate brewed in Belfast.

“Natural Umber launched in 2018 but, despite being a young company, we have years of experience in mastering the art of crafting our award-winning quality apple cider vinegar,” said Sarah Matson from Natural Umber based in Dungannon. “In a short space of time we have made a real impact and we’re thrilled to now have the backing of Northern Ireland’s fastest growing retailer to boost our business.

“As a small, artisan producer, we were aware of the Lidl Kick Start programme and the benefits and experience that it can bring to a business like ours. Kick Start is an unrivalled platform to help us reach new audiences and take the next step from supplying small, independent stores to producing our apple cider vinegar for supermarket distribution.

“We’re excited for our product to hit the shelves and we hope that customers get behind the programme and pick up some of the locally produced Kick Start artisan goods along with their weekly shop to get a taste of home and try something new.”

As well as the limited edition in-store promotion, Kick Start also provides the ambitious companies with free business development seminars delivered by a panel of Lidl and wider industry experts, covering key disciplines such as quality control, packaging, communications and brand building.

The selected range of artisan products featured within this year’s Kick Start programme includes two new suppliers; Natural Umber and Orchard Smoke House Smoked Turkey and Chicken Fillets from Co Armagh.

Making a return to shelves are new lines from Feckin’ Irish Gin, The Little Meat Company Taster Pie Box and Oh So Lean Creamy Chicken and Saffron Rice Ready Meal, all produced in Co Down.

The Lidl Kick Start Supplier Development Programme is just one of many ways in which the retailer supports local suppliers. Last year, as part of its 20th anniversary in Northern Ireland, it commissioned an independent report into the economic impact of its operations which indicated that it spends at least £290m annually with suppliers across the region while also supporting 3,500 jobs.

Earlier this year, Lidl Northern Ireland announced a new supply deal worth £24m with Fermanagh based bakery, Crust & Crumb, for an expanded pizza line. Since the beginning of its relationship with Crust & Crumb in 2013, Lidl Northern Ireland’s supply deal has helped to create 160 new full-time roles, in addition to improving access to sales in the UK, the Republic of Ireland and EU markets.

In 2018, Lidl Northern Ireland struck a deal with Northern Ireland’s Dale Farm, the UK’s largest farmer-owned dairy co-operative, to supply cheddar cheese to Lidl stores across the UK, Europe and the United States. That deal represented the single biggest contract awarded by Lidl to a Northern Ireland agri-food company, which saw Dale Farm’s locally made block cheddars, as well as grated and sliced varieties, stocked in some 8,000 stores across 22 countries.

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