Karri Kitchen unlocks commercial success with innovation support

Craigavon small food business Karri Kitchen has almost tripled its turnover thanks to innovation support from the Department for the Economy.

Soon after its establishment in 2019, the ready meals manufacturing company availed of expert support from Southern Regional College, funded through the Department’s InnovateUs programme. This assisted the company with product development, labelling and upscaling production.

Since then Karri Kitchen has supplied its products in major retailers across both Northern Ireland and the Republic, has grown its staff team from two to 25, and moved into larger premises to accommodate the increase in production.

Graeme Wilkinson, Director of Skills at DfE, said: “Support from our InnovateUs programme has enabled Karri Kitchen to unlock its commercial potential, boosting its customer base, staff complement and, crucially, turnover and profitability.

“InnovateUs provides funded expert support from a local further education college to assist a business to develop an idea for a product, process or service. The potential value of this type of support is clear to see with businesses like Karri Kitchen.

“Indeed, InnovateUs has been helping local businesses for more than 10 years, with over 4,000 projects successfully delivered in conjunction with local colleges.

“I urge any local small business that thinks it might benefit from support of this type to engage with their local college or check out the nibusinessinfo website for more information.”

Shera McAloran, founder of Karri Kitchen, commented: “I am so pleased with the results of our engagement with SRC, funded through InnovateUs. They helped us create and refine Indonesian ready meals and breakfast pots for retail sale, with invaluable input on recipe development, manufacturing scale-up and labelling.

“And we have worked with the college to produce high protein, low carb options and plant-based products – opening up new and lucrative consumer markets.

“The skills base of our staff team has grown too, as they learn the processes involved in bringing these products from an idea through to a product ready for sale to the consumer.

“Our products have now been taken up by major retailers, including locally with Spar and Centra as part of the Musgrave group, as well as with Lidl NI. We were delighted to be part of a promo with Aldi in the Republic last year, and with Lidl RoI this year, which we hope will lead to further expansion in the south. We hope to continue this growth from our new, larger premises in which we have left further room to expand.”

Lee Campbell, Director of Finance and Planning at Southern Regional College, said: “We have been working with the Department for the Economy on the InnovateUs programme for many years now, assisting businesses in the area to maximise their potential. SRC’s business engagement team has a keen understanding of the needs of companies and our experts can help develop and refine products and services, and also the processes by which they are delivered, in order to attract new customers, open up new markets and ultimately increase profit margins.”

For more information on InnovateUs and how your business could benefit from funded expert support, visit: http://www.nibusinessinfo.co.u...

Karri Kitchen pic 2

Pictured at Karri Kitchen in Craigavon are (l-r) Graeme Wilkinson of DfE; Shera McAloran of Karri Kitchen; and Tracy Rice of Southern Regional College.