Mash Direct, a business run by the Hamilton family in Northern Ireland, is a classic example of successful farm diversification. This successful processed vegetable company recently announced plans to increase production capacity to meet growing demand for its products, following a £10 mln funding package from HSBC UK.
An independent company, it was started by Martin and Tracy Hamilton at their family-run farm in Comber, in 2004, but traces its roots back farming the fields around Strangford Lough back to the 1800s, passing down through six generations.
The idea came together when, due to the declining vegetable market in the UK, mixed with poor prices for crops, Mash Direct was born out of necessity as a way to keep the family farm afloat.
Since then, the business has continued to boom year-on-year and the farm really is a family affair with Martin and Tracy, joined by both of their sons, Lance and Jack, helping Mash Direct on its journey to become a national, household name.
Since this diversification was started, it has gone from growing 70 to 1400 acres of fields that are tailored to growing traditional, heritage vegetables. These are then cooked using specially designed steam cookers and the end results are suitable for microwave or oven heating.
It grows and produces approximately 40 processed vegetable and potato dishes, and currently supplies major supermarket chains such as Tesco, Sainsbury, Asda, Waitrose, Co-op, Aldi, Lidl, and Dunnes.