The firm, which recently acquired the fresh cut fruit business of Wilson’s Country, said the cash would be spent on a combination of new equipment, upgrades to existing kit and an expansion programme that would create 20-30 new jobs.
While the take home market for cut fruit was dominated by own-label lines (Orchard already supplies own-label fruit packs to supermarkets such as Tesco and SuperValu), the lunchbox market represented a "tremendous opportunity" for its Simply Fruit branded fruit snack packs, general manager Liam Lynch told FoodManufacture.co.uk.
“Research shows that some 1.2bn lunch boxes are made up each year in the UK, with 55% of these containing fresh fruit. Our goal is to make that 100%, and preferably our Simply Fruit snack packs.”
“With the increased capability and newly-acquired processing plant and equipment from the Wilson’s acquisition, we are now able to offer more exotic fruit snacks to retail as well as to foodservice, such as kiwi, mango and pomegranate.”
The company, which has seen double-digit growth over the past year, is also looking at other acquisition opportunities, said Lynch.
“We believe the whole of the UK and Ireland’s fresh fruit snack market is ripe for development and, through a combination of organic company growth and acquisition, Orchard County Foods is well placed to meet that growing opportunity.”