Two County Down food producers team up to ease cost-of-living pressures for their workforce

At the launch of The Food Shack, pictured are Clare Foster, Head of Marketing atMash Direct; Chris Overend; Head of HR at FInnrbrogue

Pictured at The Food Shack where staff collect their weekly food bundles, are Clare Forster, Mash Direct and Chris Overend, Head of HR, Finnebrogue.


-Finnebrogue Artisan and Mash Direct joins forces in first of its kind initiative in Northern Ireland.

-Locally produced food bundled up for workforce, comprising balance of veg-based and protein-based products.

-Average food bill saving is £25 per week.

-The Food Shack initiative is the latest in a line of money-saving measures Finnebrogue introduced for staff in 2022 – free breakfast and lunch, hybrid working and a perks shopping card.

-The Food Shack was shortlisted for Grocer Gold Award 2023


County Down food producers, Finnebrogue Artisan and Mash Direct, have teamed up, in a first of its kind initiative in Northern Ireland, to help ease cost-of-living pressures for their workforce. And they’re calling on other local producers to step up and consider similar partnerships.


According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), food prices soared 16.9% in 2022, electricity prices rose by 65.4% and gas prices rose by 128.9%. People ‘in work’ are struggling to make ends meet each month as they cope with rising costs and the impact of high inflation.


The award-winning food producers, who supply leading supermarkets across the UK and Ireland, have committed products to each other on a weekly basis, which will enable them to create food bundles for staff members.


Finnebrogue produces sausages, bacon, ham and a range of plant-based foods from their four sites in Downpatrick – and this makes up the sources of protein within the food bundles. Mash Direct produce over 50 farm fresh vegetable dishes from their family farm in Comber and this provides a healthy five-a-day in the bundle.


Chris Overend, Finnebrogue’s Head of HR, explains how their business was motivated to take action:


“Finnebrogue employs 1200 people across fours sites in Downpatrick, and over the past 12 months, we’ve heard how our people are making spending adjustments, cutting back and really tightening belts – and we essentially wanted to help. 


“We introduced free breakfast and lunch options to all staff at the start of 2022, which guaranteed a warm meal each day. We extended hybrid working with optional work-from-home days, to help reduce the fuel burden from travel costs.


“And with our new initiative, in partnership with Mash Direct, we can go one step further. Food bundles will help the families of our employees to put good food on the table, even in the toughest weeks. And it’s food they’ve worked hard to make! 


“Every employee can take home a hearty food bundle each week, comprising a mix of sausages, ham, bacon and healthy vegetable sides.”


Clare Forster, Head of Marketing, Mash Direct comments:

“The food industry is fantastic for collaboration, and we are delighted to work together with Finnebrogue to provide support to our teams.


“The Food Shack is a way for the food industry to work together while energy prices continue to drive inflation.”


The Food Shack is open for a few hours each day so that all employees have the opportunity to collect their food bundle each week, which the employers value at around £25 per bundle. Each employee has the opportunity to shave around £100 each month from their food shopping bill, which is the equivalent cost of one week’s average food shop.



Pictured at The Food Shack where staff collect their food bundles, are Clare Forster, Head of Marketing, Mash Direct and Chris Overend, Head of HR, Finnebrogue.