07/03/2006

Ballyrashane jobs boost from EU funds

Coleraine company Ballyrashane Co-operative Agricultural & Dairy Society, is one of latest Northern Ireland food and horticulture companies to benefit from £3.46 million in grant aid from the EU Agricultural Processing and Marketing Grant Scheme.

The company, which currently employs 150 people and expects to employ a further 15 people, has been awarded a grant of over £185,000 to support its overall investment of £463,000 in new equipment and building upgrades.

The investment will improve Ballyrashane's cheese processing facilities and enable it to expand its specialty cheese production. The grant will primarily allow it to increase production of its speciality Regato cheese, and become more operationally efficient. The company estimates that, as a result, it will significantly increase export sales over the next three years.

Maynard Mawhinney, Invest Northern Ireland's Director of Food, says: “To compete successfully, agri-food companies need to invest in innovative new products and innovative marketing techniques.

“This grant will help Ballyrashane to develop a niche product and position it to increase sales by taking a market-led, customer focused approach, in keeping with the Food Strategy Report.”

The EU Agricultural Processing and Marketing Grant Scheme is designed to improve the economic performance and international competitiveness of the food processing sector. It is administered by the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development in conjunction with Invest NI and is part of the Northern Ireland Programme for Building Sustainable Prosperity.

The EU Agricultural Processing and Marketing Grants total £3.03 million from EU funds and £0.43 million from Invest NI national funds. Measure 4.2 of the Northern Ireland Programme for Building Sustainable Prosperity refers.

Grant aid under the EU Agricultural Processing and Marketing Grant Scheme is at a rate of up to 40 per cent - comprising 35 per cent from the EU (subject to a maximum of £0.5 million) and 5 per cent from national funds.

The Eu Agricultural Processing and Marketing Grant Scheme will close for applications in Spring 2006, a closure date has yet to be announced.

(SP/GB)

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