Linwoods food company
At 70 one might expect businessman John Woods to be thinking of retiring. Not a bit of it. In fact he leads the innovation team at his Armagh-based food company, Linwoods, and was the driving force behind his company’s launch of milled flax seed products well before the market copped on to the potential of these so-called “superfoods”.
Linwoods has just added a tenth product to its line up: milled flaxseed with probiotic and vitamin D. Woods says what makes the new product of particular interest is that it contains “GanedenBC30, a powerful probiotic culture that can survive stomach acids and reach the small intestine where it is most effective. Most probiotic enriched drinks do not,” he says.
“In addition most probiotic drinks work out at around 40 cent a shot. A serving of our product is 14 cent.”
Woods had a heart bypass in 1994 and is very diet conscious. He is a firm advocate of nutritious foods that are low in saturated fat and free from added salt and sugar. For a new product to get his approval it must tick these boxes.
“I first became aware of seeds around 2003 when I was at a food show trying to interest buyers in a frozen soda bread for ex-pats,” he says.
“The soda bread idea fizzled out, but I followed up on the seeds as growing up on a farm I was familiar with cattle being fed linseed to maintain their condition.
“Milled seeds are quickly and easily absorbed into the body and provide a range of benefits including maintaining a healthy heart and helping the immune and digestive systems.
Initially, the company brought in milled seed from Canada, but built its own milling and pasteurising facilities in 2005. The flaxseed is still sourced in Canada.
Woods says a big part of his job is spotting trends. Having identified an idea with potential he then scours the world for the organisation with the greatest expertise in that field to help him develop his products.
The company is currently working with world renowned Kew Gardens on the development of a new food product that may help in the fight against obesity.
The origins of Linwoods go back more than 70 years to a family-owned general merchants business. Woods has been in charge since 1985.
Under his direction, the company has established bakery, dairy and health food divisions. Linwoods sells in Ireland, the UK, Europe and has just begun exporting to North America. The company employs 300 people and has a distribution hub in Dublin.