After taking over the Heinz baby food factory in Kendal, entrepreneur Ross McMahon has developed a new business with an international reputation.

With a £6m Chinese contract , secured his Kendal Nutricare business is booming because of its unique Kendamil whole milk formula sourced from 220 farms in and around the lake district

Speaking to The Bay/in-Cumbria as part of our “10 minutes with “ series, Mr McMahon tells how the business sets itself apart from the competition.

So, who is Ross McMahon ?

“I’m originally from Clones , Co. Monaghan, Ireland and since 1st June 2015 the owner, sole shareholder and CEO of Kendal Nutricare Ltd. I bought the factory from HJ Heinz over 12 months ago.

"I originally studied Food Science  at University College Dublin and have spent 30 years working in the food processing industry.

“I studied German In Heidelberg University and for 6 years was European Export Manager for Rye Valley foods, in 2000 I worked in California as CEO of Java City Coffee Co. which roasts and wholesales coffee to over 1200 sites across the USA. In 2013 I opened 15 coffee shops in South Korea and looked at opportunities in China.

"When I came back to Europe in 2015 I worked with Aramark plc as Supply Chain Director and then independently as a consultant. In 2010 I started researching the opportunities in Asia to supply European made infant formulas.

"I employed staff in China to build the relationship with the State owned company Orient International Holding Shanghai Foreign Import Trade Co. Ltd.

"Having potential export clients identified was what sealed the deal in reassuring HJ Heinz  that as a new owner, I could save the 88 existing  jobs on site and expand the business to create more employment in the Lake District.

"We are the only British manufacturer of baby formula left in the UK, producing a unique Kendamil formula from whole milk rather than cheaper skim milk and palm oil formulas used by the Multinational brand leaders.”

How have the last 12 months gone ?

“Since taking over the company we’ve found the biggest asset was the incredibly loyal long serving staff who had worked for various owners from GSK, Boots Pharmacy, to HJ Heinz.

“With an average service of 25 years , there is a wealth of knowledge amongst the staff and that is what helped us create the USP of KENDAMIL.

"We discussed why in the 1980s the industry had switched Farleys from whole milk to a skim milk and palm oil recipe and discovered it was to save money.

"Farmers are bonused for the butterfat content in their milk , but the dairies want to keep the milk fat for butter and cheese production leaving a surplus of skim milk.

"The World Health Organisation stipulates the fat content of infant formula at 30% but does not stipulate which fat , so industry substituted in cheap vegetable oils in the 1980’s onwards.

With Kendamil we are creating a fuller richer product that is easier to digest , smells good and tastes good , babies finish their bottle and fall into a deep sleep.

"We’re surrounded by the picturesque Lake District , clean water and fresh air, ideal for food production. Cumbria has the second largest milk pool in the UK , so natural raw materials are at our doorstep.

What new products are in the pipeline ?

Kendal Nutricare as the home of family nutrition is formulating for both Early Life and Later Life , so we created Kendalife as an adult supplement, which can be used by all when hiking in the Lakes or as a meal replacement. We are also working on halal recipes , kosher recipes, and Organic formulas.

What does the future hold?

We are continuing to pack for Heinz in the UK Baby cereals which are been relaunched in composite cans instead of sachets in boxes.

The workforce has grown, since taking over the staff numbers have increased from 88 to 110 and we are working with Cumbria Growth hub to create over 130 jobs.

We will be opening a factory shop in July and developing an e-commerce site that will deliver across the UK.