by Richard Buckley, Editor, Business Eye

Henderson Group, the retailer and wholesaler which launched its own brand ‘enjoy local’ range in 2015, has made an investment to ensure provenance is front and centre when it comes to shoppers’ decision making.   The Fresh Team has injected a six-figure sum in to the range to highlight the local suppliers who co-created the products, bring more product variety, and importantly, ensure all packaging is marked with where the product was made, baked, bottled, boxed or farmed.


The 98 products from 18 local suppliers have also undergone rigorous taste testing and surveying by the Ulster University. Dr Amy Burns, Director of the FACT (Food & Consumer Testing) Suite at Ulster University, worked alongside the teams at Henderson Group, facilitating over 2,715 tests, tasting the products.


Dr Burns commented, “Working with SPAR NI to establish Taste Tester Approved products will give consumers better knowledge and confidence when it comes to ensuring that they are purchasing quality, fresh food”.


“All products which scored an average of 7 out of 9, which is the industry standard of excellence, will have a Taste Tester Approved icon on the packaging, proving it as a quality, stand-out food product.”


Bronagh Henderson, Marketing Manager stated; “The enjoy local range has diversified to respond to the way consumers are food shopping. Our research shows that provenance and taste are high on the decision-making agenda when doing a basket shop.”


In an independent survey conducted across NI, 87 per cent said that ‘local’ was important when it came to fresh chicken, and 83 per cent said it was important for fresh beef.


Neal Kelly, Fresh Foods Director at Henderson Group commented; “enjoy local delivers on these exact demands as our fresh chicken and fresh beef will be stamped with a verified ‘made in…’ label.


“This is what we have penned as ‘hyper local’ and gives our products a niche on the shelves. We strive to only source from local farmers, growers and producers where possible. We want our local economy to thrive and our agri-food industry is one of the best in the world, why wouldn’t we source from our doorsteps?”


The six-figure investment has gone into new product development, packaging design and production, as well as providing marketing support for the 359 SPAR and EUROSPAR stores that will be selling the range from this month (September) onwards.


Two of SPAR’s own brand products recently picked up Great Taste Awards, with the SPAR Oriental Noodle Salad gaining one star, and the enjoy local Greek Yogurt with Strawberry Compote, produced by Clandeboye Estate also picking up one star.


Neal finished; “We’re immensely proud that our collaborations with local suppliers are receiving accreditation from respected organisations such as the Great Taste Awards. It sets us apart from our competitors and we’re looking forward to furthering our product development in the coming months to bring more choice, quality and value to our shoppers.”


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Dr Amy Burns, Director of the Food & Consumer Testing Suite at Ulster University is pictured with Brand Marketing Manager, Bronagh Henderson from the Henderson Group.


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