Europe, UK, Ireland, Processing, fries, chips, Promotion/Marketing, Trade/Markets/Prices

Northern Ireland’s Mash Direct chips away at international markets

Families up and down the country are today celebrating their love of fish and chips, as they come together on National Fish & Chip Day 2018. Pubs, chip shops and restaurants across Britain will be serving the nation’s favourite dish, celebrating the farmers and fisherman who bring produce to plate. From fish and potatoes through to salt and vinegar, the demand for British products has never been greater. Making the most of this demand, Northern Ireland farmers Mash Direct are celebrating international success, most recently securing a deal to export their products to the US. With a family history in potato farming dating back to the 1800’s, sixth-generation husband and wife team Martin and Tracy Hamilton began Mash Direct in 2004, after a desire to diversify the existing farm in County Down. Since then, the family-run company has grown from 70 to 1400 acres, employs over 180 staff members and is now exporting to the US, the Middle East, Hong Kong and across Europe. 

The company initially sold to local stores, before being stocked in local and national supermarkets – their beer battered chips a local favourite. In March this year, the company secured a significant export win to supply a number of grocery stores across the US including Key Food, Food Emporium, Brooklyn Fare and SuperFresh. Mash Direct has also seen success in the Middle East after market research suggested there was real opportunity in the Middle Eastern market. After attending Gulfood – one of the world’s largest food trade festivals – the company won their first contract in Dubai and have since begun exporting to Bahrain and Qatar.

Jack Hamilton, Managing Director, Mash Direct, said: “We’re thrilled to see the tangible results and benefits that have arisen following the implementation of our export strategy. Everybody knows that Comber is famous for potatoes and for the first time, we are able to supply them fresh to the US and across the globe. Exporting is fundamental to the success of our business. If we can export from our farm in Northern Ireland, then you can too. There’s no such thing as being too small to export!”

Martin Cook, Regional Director London and Devolved Administrations said: “The British food and drink industry is globally renowned for quality, and last year UK food and drink goods exports totalled £10.2bn, an 8.5% increase on 2016. “It’s wonderful to see companies like Mash Direct making the most of the demand for British goods and taking advantage of the international opportunities available to successfully break into new markets like the US and the Middle East.”

The company has been the recipient of a number of awards including: Telegraph’s Festival of Business SME of the Year Award 2017, the UK’s number 1 Branded Supplier in Fruit, Veg and Salads by the Grocer, and a Free From Food Award for their Beer Battered Chips.

Food and live animal exports from Northern Ireland totalled £1.3bn year ending 2017, an increase of 23.5%.

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