UK meat processor Linden Foods has secured a deal to supply bacon to Ahold's Albert Heijn stores in the Netherlands.

Linden's Kettyle Irish Foods subsidiary is to sell "sustainably-produced" bacon to Albert Heijn, founder Maurice Kettyle said.

"We've been operating in this influential European market for many years and this has enabled us to keep abreast of trends there," Mr Kettyle said. "Our parent company, Linden Foods has been supplying beef to Albert Heijn for many years and is also conscious of the move towards greater evidence of sustainability that includes good standards of animal welfare.

"We were asked by the retailer if we could supply them with sustainably produced bacon from outdoor bred pigs, which we have been able to do. We decided to offer them a unique Fermanagh bacon from outdoor pigs that also features a distinctively different curing process using seaweed that’s readily available around our shores."

Mr Kettyle added the GBP1.2m contract would allow the company to look at other opportunities in Europe.

"It's an extremely exciting development that gives us an important platform for further growth with the chain in The Netherlands and will encourage us to explore opportunities in other European markets."

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Foster announces £1.2million export deal for Kettyle

Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster has announced a major export deal for Kettyle Irish Foods in Lisnaskea that could be worth over £1.2million over the next 12 months.

The contract involves the supply of a new, sustainably produced Fermanagh bacon to one of Europe’s top retailers.

Arlene Foster said: “Kettyle Irish Foods has secured an immensely important contract that will see it supply its unique bacon that’s been cured using seaweed to Albert Heijn supermarkets throughout The Netherlands.

“What’s also extremely significant about this contract is its inclusion within Albert Heijn’s prestigious ‘Excellence’ food range, which focuses on products produced using sustainable farming and processing techniques. Kettyle’s richly flavoured Fermanagh bacon is the first from Northern Ireland to be included in this exacting portfolio of food products.

“It’s tremendously encouraging to see premium dry-cured bacon in the chill cabinets of one of the most respected and influential European retailers. Kettyle Irish Foods, an award winning company which has pioneered dry-aged beef and bacon, has been quick to recognise a developing market trend in The Netherlands for foods which combine taste and sustainability.

“Other leading retailers in Europe are also starting to insist that suppliers show solid evidence of a commitment to sustainability. It’s a trend which could have a profound impact on the food businesses here and indeed throughout Europe.”

Based at Manderwood Business Park in Lisnaskea, Kettyle Irish Foods specialises in dry-aging techniques and has been assisted to expand its European markets, grow its business and develop skills through a series of Invest NI programmes.

Maurice Kettyle, commenting on the new business in The Netherlands, said: “We’ve been operating in this influential European market for many years and this has enabled us to keep abreast of trends there. Our parent company, Linden Foods in Dungannon, has been supplying beef to Albert Heijn for many years and is also conscious of the move towards greater evidence of sustainability that includes good standards of animal welfare.

“We were asked by the retailer if we could supply them with sustainably produced bacon from outdoor bred pigs, which we have been able to do. We decided to offer them a unique Fermanagh bacon from outdoor pigs that also features a distinctively different curing process using seaweed that’s readily available around our shores.

“The buyers there loved our samples and placed a contract with us that could be worth around £1.2million over the next 12 months. It’s an extremely exciting development that gives us an important platform for further growth with the chain in The Netherlands and will encourage us to explore opportunities in other European markets,” he added.

The company has won a series of industry awards including, most recently, three gold stars in the UK Great Taste Awards for its dry-aged bone marrow butter. It gained a further two star gold was awarded for dry-aged wing rib steak. Other awards were achieved for its dry-aged fillet steak, dry-aged ribeye steak and bacon.

Original source: Invest NI