It is the third expansion since the inception of the business in 2013.
The new plant will enable Pop Notch to manufacture 25,000 bags a week, according to a release.
Declan McBride, who has a background in food production, started the popcorn company after he and his wife traveled to Canada. They had experienced different popcorn flavors there, and saw a gap in the UK and Irish markets for a gourmet flavored popcorn produced in Northern Ireland.
Currently, Pop Notch uses a special kind of Argentinian mushroom corn to produce extra-large popcorn pieces. All of its products are gluten-free and made with natural ingredients, including marshmallow, according to the company.
“What we’ve created is a luxury popcorn in some different flavors that’s aimed at foodservice outlets and high-end retailers,” McBride said.
Pop Notch also recently introduced a snack range for children in 20 g bags with banana, apple and strawberry flavors.
Demand for gourmet popcorn is growing
“Demand for our gourmet popcorn is growing strongly in all our established markets and attracting inquiries from other parts of the world in which we don’t yet have a presence,” McBride said.
“This sort of growth can really only be achieved by expanding sales in markets outside Northern Ireland,” he added.
McBride told BakeryandSnacks that UK sales of popcorn grew by 169% over the past five years to reach an estimated £129m ($163m) in 2015.
“It really is an exciting time to be involved in the popcorn market,” he said.
“Our strategic focus is now on building business abroad and particularly in the US, the home of popcorn. I believe that we can compete there successfully with our range of luxury flavored popcorn. We’ll also be focusing on expanding sales in Britain and the Republic.”
Popcorn growth might be hindered by Brexit
Even though popcorn is the most dynamic product area in savory snacks in 2016, it is set to see a 1% decline, according to a recent Euromonitor report.
“This is chiefly due to intensifying competition among the leadings, as players seek to capitalize on dynamic sales growth in this area,” the report said.
Some of the top popcorn producers in the UK include Butterkist, Metcalfe’s, Popz, Tyrrells, and Propercorn. The whole sector has also seen a 15.20% increase during the 2015 to 2016 period, compared to 33.70% from 2014 to 2015.
“Growth could also be hindered by the impact of Brexit in the forecast period,” Euromonitor added.
“There is also likely to be an increase in production costs, particularly in terms of imported ingredients, with this in turn likely to result in unit price increases at a time when consumers are increasingly price-sensitive.”