UK. Armagh-based Long Meadow Cider has claimed an exclusive craft cider contract at George Best Belfast City Airport.
The contract, with HMSHost International, was secured following the company’s success in a competition launched by Belfast City Airport, in partnership with Food NI, earlier this year. The company’s Blossom Burst Cider beat over 70 participants to be named Northern Ireland’s ‘Best’ local food and drink product. The award included marketing support from Belfast City Airport.
The Bushmills Bar, and the airport’s recently rebranded St. George’s Market restaurant, which is also managed by HMSHost, will both stock the Blossom Burst flavour.
Long Meadow Cider Founder and Managing Director Peter McKeever said: “Having our Blossom Burst Cider named Northern Ireland’s ‘Best’ local food and drink product, and receiving £30,000 (US$39,200) of marketing support at Belfast City Airport has been a real turning point in our business. It has been the icing on the cake in what has been an incredible four years.
“As a small, family-owned business, we never imagined getting to the finals, let alone winning. We are so grateful for the relationship we now have with the airport which has opened doors and has now led to our exclusive cider contract with HMSHost in Belfast.”
McKeever said the company’s first order, secured in mid-summer, was quickly followed by a larger one. “We believe this contract has the potential to be our biggest.”
He said the airport’s estimated 2.7 million passenger traffic provided Long Meadow Cider with a considerable platform to showcase its product.
The McKeever family has been growing apples at Long Meadow Farm for three generations and said all products are made from 100% natural Bramley apples, grown and harvested on-site.
The company launched a new Rhubarb and Honey flavour in July and said sales were exceeding expectations. “This new flavour is not only to celebrate our fourth year in business but also in response to demand for flavoured ciders,” McKeever added.
Long Meadow Cider products are available in France, Mexico, Italy and the Republic of Ireland, and the company noted increasing international interest.
HMSHost Hospitality Manager Alex Woodhouse commented: “Bottled cider is consistently one of the most popular selling bottled, alcoholic products in the Bushmills Bar and St. Georges Market at Belfast City Airport.
“Over the last number of years, we have focused on trying to create strong links with leading, local suppliers. Where we can work with local providers, we will.
“Long Meadow Cider has had a really successful few years and the feedback from our customers so far has been fantastic, so we’re delighted to work with Long Meadow as our exclusive craft cider partner in Belfast City Airport.”
Belfast City Airport Commercial Manager Joanne Deighan added: “At Belfast City Airport, we are passionate about championing and supporting local brands.
“Last year we facilitated a relationship between World Duty Free and Shortcross Gin which has resulted in the product being stocked in a number of its outlets in airports across the UK, including Belfast City Airport.
“Our search for Northern Ireland’s ‘Best’ local food and drink product in partnership with Food NI earlier this year allowed us to provide the winner, Long Meadow Cider, with £30,000 of on-site advertising and marketing support to promote its brand to our 2.7 million passengers each year.
“With passengers travelling from across the UK, or further afield through our summer Aer Lingus routes or KLM’s daily service to Amsterdam, it is vital that our retail and product offering is of a high standard. To be able to provide local produce to these customers is fantastic and we’re thrilled to introduce Long Meadow Cider to our customers in the Bushmills Bar and St. George’s Market.”
Food NI Chief Executive Officer Michele Shirlow said: “The Belfast City Airport and Food NI competition was a fantastic platform for local food and drink producers from Northern Ireland, and the prize for Long Meadow Cider, which sees the brand promoted on a huge lightbox at the entrance to the airport, is a huge boost for the company.