Scotland is set to smash the mash market with the launch of the first-ever range of pre-prepared potato dishes made from home-grown tubers.
Albert Bartlett, the UK’s leading supplier of potatoes, will create 50 new jobs at its headquarters in Airdrie when it opens a new state-of-the-art £17m production factory in September.
Investment by HSBC and the Scottish government represents a major development for the potato producer, which processes a fifth of the fresh potatoes sold in the UK and has operations across Scotland, England, Ireland, Jersey France, the Netherlands, Canada and the US.
The funding means it is now able to diversify into developing a range of chilled prepared dishes for the first time – starting with Scottish mash.
Bartletts has already won a prize three-year contract with one of the big four supermarkets – whose name cannot yet be revealed - for its mash range and the new Airdrie factory will have the capability of producing 35,000 tonnes, or 74 million 400g packs, for sale across the UK each year from September.
Made with Maris Pipers grown in Ayrshire, Tayside, Fife, and the Scottish Borders, the move will see Bartletts supply 30% of the current market – and put it in direct competition with Irish brand Mash Direct, which is currently available in most Scottish supermarkets. Talks with other supermarkets are currently being fielded.
A new production kitchen at Airdrie, with its own development chef, was opened this week. In addition to buttery mash other varieties such as cheesy mash, root veg mash and Colcannon likely to follow, using vegetables grown by its sister company, Scotty Brand.
Earlier this year, the Scottish Government awarded Bartletts the largest ever Food Processing, Marketing and Co-operation grant of £4m to expand its potato growing capacity in Scotland and to diversity into the growing convenience market. The award contributed to the £17m investment in the new factory and production kitchen, which will allow Bartletts to introduce new chilled potato products.
Ronnie Bartlett, chair of the company founded by his grandfather Albert in 1948, said: “Airdrie is at the heart of what we do, and when our new production factory starts operating in September we will be able to meet growing demand for convenient, pre-prepared dishes and deliver a bit of magic for our customers with a range of Albert Bartlett pre-prepared dishes. We are grateful to HSBC and the Scottish government for their support in this.”
At the opening Bartlett’s production kitchen, chef Andrew Fairlie, patron of Scotland’s only two Michelin starred restaurant at the Gleneagles Hotel, said: “I have been a brand ambassador for Bartletts for over 20 years and to witness the progression of the company over that time has been a fantastic journey for me. I am delighted with this new development kitchen, which marks stage three of the company’s growth.
“Having watched the groundwork being laid by Ronnie I know he doesn’t do things by half. If he didn’t think he could up the standard on chilled potato products he wouldn’t be doing it.
“This is really exciting news for retailers and for customers. I am sure that with its new range of chilled potato products Bartletts will take the market by storm.”