Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Specialist Food Company Is Gearing Up for Growth; CATERING

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Specialist Food Company Is Gearing Up for Growth; CATERING

Article excerpt

Byline: COREENA FORD coreena.ford@ncjmedia.co.uk

AN innovative North East food maker which is the only one of its kind in the world is gearing up for growth as demand for its products grows.

South Shields-based Punjab Kitchen creates a range of breakfasts, dinners and desserts in which the ingredients are pureed and reshaped to look like the real thing.

The firm is the largest supplier of the special diet meals to the public sector in the UK, supplying NHS hospitals and care homes with pureed replicas of meals for patients who have difficulty swallowing.

Now the pioneering supplier is starting the next phase of its development with a PS500,000 investment which includes the refurbishment if its site on the Rekendyke Industrial Estate.

The firm took on the empty site, which had last been used as a fashion manufacturing factory, in 2000 and has invested heavily into converting it for their needs.

Managing director and founder Mohammed Ishaq said: "We started the refurbishment work in April and we aim to complete it by the end of August.

"We are carrying out the changes to our production facility to increase our capacity and meet new contracts. It's a big job but if you've got to do it, you've got to do it.

"We started our business in the Team Valley, but after a few years we ran out of space so we looked around to find a place that had potential to expand.

"When I first came across our current site, there were horses tied up in the car parks, the roof was half-missing. We now have a fantastic operation which will be even more stateof-the-art when the current investment is completed."

Founded in 1996, Punjab Kitchen initially supplied halal and ethnic meals to Asian communities that couldn't get those foods in hospitals, a venture that Mohammed Ishaq said was inspired by his own hospital stay where his wife and business partner, Yasmine, had to bring in those meals from home.

He left his job in retail and researched ways to improve hospital food. Along the way, he saw how patients with dysphagia were served a liquidised "gloop" which consisted of ingredients that were blended together by catering staff. …

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