MBE honour for Willowbrook Foods’ founder

John McCann, managing director and founder of one of the UKs leading food manufacturers, Willowbrook Foods, has been bestowed the honour of a Member of the British Empire (MBE) in recognition of his outstanding services to the food industry and the community in Northern Ireland. Pictured is John McCann MBE from Willowbrook Foods, wife Janine and children Steven and Julie
John McCann, managing director and founder of one of the UKs leading food manufacturers, Willowbrook Foods, has been bestowed the honour of a Member of the British Empire (MBE) in recognition of his outstanding services to the food industry and the community in Northern Ireland. Pictured is John McCann MBE from Willowbrook Foods, wife Janine and children Steven and Julie

John McCann, managing director and founder of one of the UK’s leading food manufacturers, Willowbrook Foods, has been bestowed the honour of a Member of the British Empire (MBE) in recognition of his outstanding services to the food industry and the community in Northern Ireland.

Mr McCann was formally presented with his MBE by HRH The Prince of Wales in a prestigious ceremony at Buckingham Palace this month.

Willowbrook Foods' founder and managing director, John McCann, has been awarded an MBE by HRH The Prince of Wales in recognition of over 50 years of outstanding services to the agri-food industry in NI.  Pictured is John McCann MBE from Willowbrook Foods

Willowbrook Foods' founder and managing director, John McCann, has been awarded an MBE by HRH The Prince of Wales in recognition of over 50 years of outstanding services to the agri-food industry in NI. Pictured is John McCann MBE from Willowbrook Foods

Willowbrook Foods has continued to go from strength to strength, experiencing over £28m turnover and 22% growth in the past year. The company continues to expand its sales and operations, securing new contracts in the Republic of Ireland and UK including Fife Creamery and Reynolds Catering Supplies.

The food manufacturer continues to expand its team and currently employs over 220 people. Supplying over 70 retail and foodservice customers in the UK and Ireland, Willowbrook Foods is active in ten product categories. The company’s purpose-built Innovation Centre places innovation and new product development at the forefront, enabling the company to quickly develop bespoke products to meet the diverse needs of its customers.

Now in his 70s, founder John McCann has dedicated his life to the agri-food industry and remains at the heart of the business since its foundation 50 years ago. The Northern Ireland based company supplies some of the largest retail, ingredient manufacturers and food service providers including Iceland, Henderson Group, Nisa, Costco, Lidl, Aldi, Musgrave and BWG.

Willowbrook Foods was established in 1968 and operates on rich, fertile land farmed by the McCann family for over 200 years, providing an ideal environment to produce the company’s high quality ingredients.

Not only has this year been remarkable for me personally but also for the business through securing new major international contracts. Our business’ success is down to the entire Willowbrook Foods team. Their dedication to producing and supplying fresh, convenient, quality and innovative products really is at the heart of our success.

John McCann MBE, Willowbrook Foods, managing director and founder

Mr McCann MBE said: “Not only has this year been remarkable for me personally but also for the business through securing new major international contracts. Our business’ success is down to the entire Willowbrook Foods team. Their dedication to producing and supplying fresh, convenient, quality and innovative products really is at the heart of our success.

“I am delighted and humbled to receive this MBE, particularly as I’ve been recognised for doing something that I love. The ceremony day was extra special for me because I was able to share it with my wife Janine, and children Steven and Julie - it’s a day we will never forget.”

For over five decades, John has been a strong voice and pioneer for the agri-food sector, including proactively working with growers to resolve the lettuce shortage crisis earlier this year.

The company recently secured a major international contract with Alpha Catering. This involved developing, producing and supplying a new range of deli-style salads throughout Alpha Catering’s 320,000 in-flight meal service in over 130 airlines in 21 countries on a daily basis. The salads created by Willowbrook Foods were intricately researched and developed within its Innovation Centre and included Thai quinoa, lemon olive pasta, apricot tabouleh and potato Liegeoise, demonstrating the diversity of NI produce.

Dating back 100 years, the New Year’s Honours recognise the achievements and contributions of extraordinary people across the UK, highlighting their long-term, significant impact as a stand-out example to others.