The Castledawson-based bakery business, run by Baker of the Year winner Robert Ditty, agreed to produce a range of its own-brand oatcakes and sweet oat biscuits for Tesco, which will land in the supermarket firm’s Northern Ireland stores next month.
Should the initial Tesco Northern Ireland trial prove successful, the supermarket plans to take Ditty’s line of oatcake products throughout its UK stores.
Robert Ditty told British Baker: "Tesco’s senior buyer for Northern Ireland approached me in the first instance and arranged a meeting with the head of Tesco in Ireland to discuss the move. Our oatcakes are niche enough to sit within the deli counter section of the supermarket business, which I think is the plan, as opposed to placing them in the general biscuit aisle.”
The bakery's oatcake and sweet oat biscuit products were selected for Tesco’s Northern Ireland stores as part of a campaign to support local food producers, primarily in the artisanal sector.
Ditty added that sales of its oatcakes have contributed heavily to the overall growth of the bakery business: “Our wholesale side of the company accounts for 65% of business and, within that, around 30% or possibly even more are down to our oatcakes.
“It has become a major contributor to our turnover, and that is how I see our business developing. We have spent around 10 years developing a recognisable brand and it has travelled quite well for us.”
The bakery is currently developing the oatcake range and will look to include a Bramley apple variety, which will incorporate an apple concentrate that is a by-product from a local cider producer.
A second variety is also being produced, a sweeter digestive-style oatcake, which will look to include a tea blend, called a Belfast brew, with a malt flavour from another local supplier.
Read British Baker's 10 August issue for the full interview with Robert Ditty, looking at his career in bakery, the Ditty’s Bakery business and his Baker of the Year Award win at last year’s Baking Industry Awards.