Food Stories in Belfast in deal to supply popcorn to Canary Islands

Food Stories, the Belfast-based producer of popcorn and fruit crisps, has won business from Spain’s HiperDino supermarket chain. HiperDino is now selling the company’s Cloud Corn branded popcorn to shoppers at its supermarkets and hypermarkets on the Canary Islands and through its on-line shop.

HiperDino has listed two Cloud Corn popcorn varieties – Sweet and Salty and Sweet Chilli BBQ – from Food Stories, now a leading Northern Ireland exporter of snacks. The popcorn is gluten-free, high in fibre, suitable for vegans and made only from the finest natural ingredients.

Founded in 1996, HiperDino is part of Dinosol Supermercados, the biggest retailer on the holiday islands, which was established in 1978 as a family business by brothers Jose Abraham and Andres Dominguez. The group also operates a chain of smaller shops and is collaborating with BP on a series of forecourt stores.

Michael Heaslip, founder and managing director of Food Stories, commenting on the new business in the Canaries, says: “I was thrilled when the HiperDino buying team decided to list our popcorn following extensive taste testing.

“They loved the flavours, lightness and quality of our popcorn and will now be carrying in their hypermarkets in what is another important export success for the company”.

“It is a marketplace that is often forgotten and attracts around 10 million visitors, mostly from the UK, Ireland and other parts of Europe, annually in addition to a population of over two million. The islands are extremely popular as a year-round holiday destination for visitors from the UK and Ireland,” he adds.

Mr Heaslip says the business with HiperDino was brokered by their distribution partner in Spain but the role Invest Northern Ireland played was invaluable. “Invest NI’s guidance and practical support in pinpointing and lining up potential distribution contacts and knowledge of the market have helped us make this first step into the Spanish market. This support facilitated the discussions which led to what is our first
contract in the Canaries,” he continues.

Mr Heaslip established Food Stories, which currently employs four people in Belfast, in 2014. The popcorn range was launched by the company in March 2018 using original recipes created by Mr Heaslip, who was previously involved in artisan food distribution.

Cloud Corn was the first branded product under the Food Stories identity and is available in three varieties – Sweet and Salty, Sweet Chilli BBQ and Salted. The company has also developed a range of fruit and veggie crisps, a variety of which was listed for the prestigious innovation award at the recent SIAL food show in Paris.

Mr Heaslip formed Cloud Corn to develop opportunities he had developed in international markets from the significant growth in popcorn. As part of his focus on exports, Mr Heaslip decided that all the nutritional information on the packaging should be in six languages – English, French, Spanish, German, Dutch and Italian. The latest export deal follows the company’s success in supplying its snacks to Canada, Belgium, the Netherlands and Sweden.