UK – Irish fruit juice manufacturer Mulrines, has invested significantly in new drinks and liquid food manufacturing facility at Sion Mills, with plans to create 54 new jobs.

The fourth-generation family business includes apple orchards, juice pressing, blending, and the production of fruit juices, fruit drinks, and plant-based beverages, for the retail, wholesale, and food service sectors in the Republic of Ireland, the UK, and other markets.

The company has purchased 22 acres of the former Herdmans site at Sion Mills and is renovating existing buildings to create a large-scale manufacturing facility producing plant-based drink and fruit juice products.

Mulrines chairman Peter Mulrine described the investment as the culmination of several years of research, planning, and negotiation supported by Invest NI.

He pointed out that the UK plant-based beverage market is experiencing year-on-year growth and the new factory will provide an opportunity for Mulrines’ to enter the fast-growing oat drink market and also offers additional capacity for its core fruit juice and beverage business.

According to Statista, a market research firm, in 2020, sales of plant-based organic foods in the United Kingdom were valued at almost US$305 million, and by 2026, the figure is projected to reach US$548 million.

As a business that is focused on sustainability, Mr. Mulrine said all packaging planned for the Sion Mills site is made from fiberboard, a renewable source, and is fully recyclable.

He explained that the company recognizes and is encouraged by the benefits of oat drink, which leaves a far smaller carbon footprint than dairy milk.

Mel Chittock, interim chief executive at Invest Northern Ireland, noted that the project will see the former Herdmans site brought back to life after nearly 20 years, creating new employment in the area and delivering significant local supply chain benefits.

The company plans to create 54 new jobs by 2026. The roles include operatives, administrators, team supervisors, maintenance, and logistics. With average salaries in the mid £20k range, the roles offer great opportunities in the area.

The investment in the project follows the extension of a more than €8 million contract between Lidl Ireland with Donegal juice and smoothie producer Mulrines.

The new multimillion contract is the largest contract to date with Mulrines, since commencing the supply of its products to Lidl Ireland in 2009.

The new multimillion deal saw Mulrines’ juices and smoothies feature on shelves across Lidl’s stores throughout Ireland and Northern Ireland, as well as several stores in Great Britain.

According to Lidl, Mulrines produces a variety of 11 fruit juices and smoothies for the retailer, with the addition of four new products, which will be stocked in store later this year.

The items include Naturis cranberry juice, Naturis orange juice, Simply apple juice, Simply orange juice, and Naturis children’s smoothies, in flavors such as strawberry, blackberry, and raspberry.

Since working with Lidl Ireland, Mulrines has also secured a deal to place its children’s smoothies and cranberry juices throughout some Lidl stores in Great Britain.

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