Food for thought: healthy foods, botanical gin and Liberties libations

Business | Fri 10 Mar | Author – Business & Finance Strong Roots
Samuel Dennigan, founder, Strong Roots

The inside track on Ireland’s booming food and beverage industry. Edited by Colin White.


Roots manoeuvre

Healthy frozen food producer Strong Roots has secured a deal with UK retailer Waitrose and is now available in 200 stores across the UK. The brand, founded by Dublin man Samuel Dennigan, is already listed in nine Whole Foods stores in the UK and is one of its top frozen sellers.

In 12 months, revenue at Strong Roots soared by over 1,000% and its signature product, a frozen take on the sweet potato, secured nationwide listings in Ireland through Musgrave, Dunnes and Tesco.

The chain will stock Strong Roots’ first product, Oven Baked Sweet Potato, and its latest product Kale and Quinoa burgers with the view to supplying further products as they come onstream in 2017.

Strong Roots will invest over €1m into a UK marketing campaign over the next two years and founder Samuel Dennigan plans to introduce eight new products to the Strong Roots line in 2017.

The wild bunch

Irish craft distillery Glendalough has released Glendalough Wild Botanical Gin. Bottled at 41% ABV, the new spirit is stylishly presented in the distillery’s distinctive and evocative packaging complete with the outstretched figure of the fabled Saint Kevin.

The newest addition to their gin collection was launched at an intimate and exclusive party at JT Pim’s in Dublin. Glendalough Distillery’s Wild Botanical Gin is produced in exactly the same small-batch artisanal method as the company’s other seasonal gins: slowly distilled with notes of juniper, citrus and pine.

Gourmet Galway

Galway Michelin-star restaurant Aniar was recently honoured in Paris with its inclusion in the prestigious international restaurants guide La Liste as the world’s top 1,000 Outstanding Restaurants for 2017 was announced.

La Liste is compiled by aggregating reviews of the world’s top restaurants by more than 300 guidebooks and trusted publications. Aniar, which scored an 87.25 grade, was one of only 11 restaurants in Ireland and the only restaurant in Galway to make it onto the list for 2017. The other restaurants included Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud, The Green House, Chapter One, The Cliff House Hotel, L’Ecrivain, Campagne, Mount Juliet, Longueville House, Marlfield House and The Ross.

JP McMahon, chef-patron of Aniar, said: “I’m delighted to have our work recognised. We pride ourselves on being an international destination for contemporary Irish food in Galway. This is confirmation of all our hard work.” La Liste 2017’s announcement took place in the historic ballroom of the Quai d’Orsay Palace. The ceremony was attended by hundreds of international chefs, food critics and journalists.

Oat of allegiance

PaddyO’s Cereals have agreed a deal with the Dalata Group (comprising the Clayton and Maldron Hotels) to be their sole supplier of porridge oats.

Since the start of February their new porridge oats, which are milled in Portlaoise and grown by farmers in Laois and surrounding counties, will be served in each of the group’s hotels in Ireland.

Paddy O’Connell of PaddyO’s Cereals said: “This is a great deal for the local farmers and ourselves as we are dipping our toe into the porridge market. We have a beautiful product with a nutty and creamy taste and texture.”

An Easi sell

Ornua Nutrition Ingredients (ONI) and EasiYo, a homemade, fresh yogurt brand from New Zealand, have entered into a supply partnership.

This will see ONI utilise a new purpose-built production facility at its headquarters in Leek in the UK, in order to blend and pack high-quality Irish dairy powders into the full range of EasiYo natural and flavoured yogurt mixes for the UK and European markets. This will be the first time that EasiYo has been produced outside of New Zealand, and marks a major step forward in the brand’s international development.

Commenting on the new supply partnership, Alastair Jackson, managing director of Ornua Nutrition Ingredients, said: “Ornua’s strategic objective is to develop opportunities for the export of Irish dairy products and this important partnership with EasiYo demonstrates that we are making strong progress in developing added-value routes to market for high-quality, grass-fed Irish milk products.”

Wolf parade

Australian wine brand Wolf Blass has teamed up with rugby pundit Brent Pope to launch the new Wolf Blass Rugby Limited Edition in Ireland. Throughout February and March, each bottle of Wolf Blass Yellow Label cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay will feature one of the 15 rugby positions, from loosehead prop to full back. Wolf Blass Rugby Limited Edition wines retail at €14.99 and are now available in stores nationwide.

Liberties libations

Diageo has moved into the premium Irish whiskey category with the launch of Roe & Co, a new premium blended whiskey. The news comes with the announcement that Diageo plans to invest in a whiskey distillery at St James’s Gate.

The total project investment, at what was once a power station, will come to €25m over three years. Roe & Co is named in honour of George Roe, the once world-famous whiskey maker who helped build the golden era of Irish whiskey in the 19th century.

His distillery on Thomas Street in Dublin’s Liberties was once Ireland’s largest distillery. As neighbours for hundreds of years George Roe & Co and Guinness were the two biggest names at the heart of Dublin’s historic brewing and distilling quarter. Roe & Co is non-chill filtered and bottled at 45% ABV. The first blend will be available in European cities from March 1st 2017.

Operations director of Diageo, Colin O’Brien commented: “This investment further demonstrates Diageo’s commitment to the growing vibrancy of The Liberties, one of the city’s most dynamic districts and the home of Irish whiskey during the original golden age of Irish distilling.”

The butcher buy

A fifth-generation family butcher is celebrating its exciting partnership with Dunnes Stores, which is the first significant collaboration of its type between an artisan producer and a retailer of this size.

The collaboration between the two family businesses – James Whelan Butchers (JWB) and Dunnes Stores – will see the specialist craft and skill of artisan producers shared with, and promoted in, large retailers. The collaboration, which now sees JWB as a large concession within two major Dublin Dunnes Stores (Cornelscourt and the Swan Centre, Rathmines) is a unique and significant innovation in the retail market.

JWB has five craft butcher shops in Ireland, including two in collaboration with Avoca. According to Pat Whelan, who is the fifth generation of the family to head up JWB, the partnership will allow him to greatly grow and develop the business while sharing and staying true to its culture, passion and dedication to the art of butchery that has been passed down through his family. More than 20 new jobs have been immediately created as a result of the collaboration.