Karri Kitchen unlocks commercial success with innovation support

Date published: 13 February 2023

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

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

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 nibusinessinfo

Notes to editors: 

1. More information on Karri Kitchen.

2. InnovateUs is a skills development programme funded by the Department for the Economy and delivered across Northern Ireland by the six FE colleges. The programme is designed to encourage and promote opportunities for small businesses and FE colleges to work together. In particular, the focus of the programme is to enable small businesses, with fewer than 50 employees, to acquire the skills necessary to engage in innovation activities. Businesses can avail of up to 60 hours of mentoring support from a college expert to work on a project aimed at developing a new or modified product, process or service in a wide range of sectors.

3. The Department may take photographs and videos at announcements and events to publicise its work. Photographs, interviews, videos or other recordings may be issued to media organisations for publicity purposes or used in promotional material, including in publications, newspapers, magazines, other print media, on television, radio and electronic media (including social media and the internet). Photographs and videos will also be stored on the Department’s internal records management system. The Department will keep the photographs and recordings for no longer than is necessary for the purposes for which they have been obtained. The Department’s Privacy Policy is available on our website.

4. To keep up to date with news from the Department for the Economy you can follow us on the following social media channels:

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5. For media enquiries contact the Department for the Economy Press Office at pressoffice@economy-ni.gov.uk .

6. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service for media enquiries only between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.

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