Antrim Hills Spring Water Company is a family-owned business and was founded in 1989. The company supplies natural spring and flavoured water to major retailers and distributors in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Europe and Asia. The company is known for the purity of its water source which comes from natural occurring artesian spring which is filtered through blue basalt rock in a fully controlled catchment area.
The company wanted to develop a targeted-cost juice drink range which would be below the sugar tax threshold as consumers are looking for a healthier alternative to carbonate soft drinks.
In order to overcome this obstacle, Antrim Hills made contact with North West Regional College (NWRC) Business Support Centre (BSC) who supported them through the InnovateUs programme, funded by the Department for the Economy (DfE).
This provided 1:1 mentoring support from NWRC Hospitality Lecturer, Linda McClean. The training went through understanding the steps involved in the NPD process and scaling the recipe to production stage.
It also involved recipe development (with alternative sweeteners & new flavour innovations), blind taste testing, standardisation of the final recipe and understanding of food nutritional claims (including calculation & verification) before finishing off with product labelling (allergens and non-health claims.) Two flavours were primarily investigated, an orange and an apple & blackcurrant.
On completion of the project, the company has successfully created a targeted-cost juice drink range which consists of orange and apple & blackcurrant flavours which are below the sugar tax threshold.
Antrim Hills Directors, Brian Geary and Peter Geary, described the benefits of working with NWRC BSC via the InnovateUs programme:
‘’We’re more than satisfied with the results of this project. The work provided by the college has helped us greatly to develop recipes which we’d be struggling to achieve otherwise. The college has also given us advice on how to process the products for better shelf life and given us assistance with labelling declarations. The project did provide good value for money.’’