Rooney Fish based in Kilkeel is to increase its investment in innovation with the help of Invest Northern Ireland.
As the Northern Ireland seafood industry adapts to the challenges of the economic recession, the family owned and managed company, which currently exports its entire output of shellfish, is investing in innovation to strengthen its position in key export markets in Europe, the Middle East and Asia including Japan and Hong Kong. This will help the company, now among the leading UK exporters of shellfish, to optimise opportunities developing for its fresh and processed products.
The company, which employs 40 people at its modern processing plant near Kilkeel harbour, pioneered the development of a cooking process for langoustines. As a result they have won significant export business particularly in France with major retailers such as Carrefour, Auchan and Leclerc as well as wholesalers in Spain supplying retail and foodservice leaders.
Assistance for the company’s new growth strategy was announced by Maynard Mawhinney, Invest NI Food and Tourism Director, during a visit to the company. He was briefed about the company’s plans by Andrew Rooney, Commercial Director of Rooney Fish.
Mr Rooney, who took part in recent Invest NI trade missions for local seafood businesses to the US and Hong Kong, said: “We are focusing on innovative ways to add further value to our existing and very comprehensive range of shellfish.
“This involves working closely with existing and potential customers to help identify new product opportunities and participating in a range of trade exhibitions and targeted missions of the type organised by Invest NI to Boston and Hong Kong. I saw exciting opportunities for us in both centres. However, it will take time to develop these.
“We’ve also found regular participation in major exhibitions such as European Seafood in Brussels, Gulfood in Dubai and the recently launched Seafood Barcelona to be immensely beneficial in terms of business secured and new contacts made.
“Invest NI’s support for our new product development and marketing activities has been very important for the business,” he added.
Mr Mawhinney said: “Rooney Fish has developed into one of Northern Ireland’s most successful and enterprising exporters through a dedication to innovation in both products and processing techniques.
“We have been working with this entrepreneurial business to assist management to harness opportunities worldwide for the premium products that it processes from superb raw material around the Northern Ireland coastline.
“Customers clearly appreciate the quality of Rooney Fish shellfish as well as the company’s commitment to excellent services.”
The company has received support from Invest NI to develop its exports to markets in Europe and the Middle East. It has also taken part in Invest NI sectoral missions to the US and Hong Kong. It has received advice and support for the development of its product portfolio.
Rooney Fish was established in 1974 and has diversified into shellfish in response to EU quotas on cod and other fish. It specialises in shellfish from the Irish Sea including King Scallops, prawns, periwinkles, mussels, crab, shrimp and lobster for export. It operates from a modern fully EC approved facility with the latest processing technology.