Food for thought

Business, Lifestyle | Mon 24 Oct | Author – Business & Finance dees wholefoods collins
Deirdre Collins, Dee’s Wholefoods

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

Cork-based Dee’s Wholefoods, founded by veggie entrepreneur and Dragons’ Den graduate Deirdre Collins, has launched its range of vegan products in the largest retail group in Scandinavia.

Launched in 2008 by one of Ireland’s best-known wholefood entrepreneurs, Deirdre Collins, Dee’s Wholefoods produces a range convenient meat-free meal and snack options.

Dee’s Wholefoods’ expansion into the Swedish market follows a highly successful launch in the Netherlands in 2015, where the company’s range is currently available at the country’s second largest retailer, Jumbo.

The ICA supermarket group is the largest retailer in the Nordic region and the leading grocery chain in Sweden, with over 1,300 stores.

2016 also saw the company continuing to build its presence in the UK, bringing its products to 300 Holland and Barrett stores. Collins has always recognised the importance of the export market and has been shipping her Cork-produced vegan fare overseas from the earliest days of the business.

“We are really excited to bring Dee’s products to Sweden – one of the most developed and dynamic food retail markets in the world, and a country that has been at the forefront of adopting an increasingly meat-free lifestyle,” she said.

The locally based Bord Bia and Enterprise Ireland offices were a great help, immediately giving us access

dees-foodThe Swedish vegetarian food market is thriving, with a recent survey showing that more than one in three Swedes (36%) eat vegetarian food at least once a week. The country is very much in the vanguard of a global trend that is seeing more people choosing to reduce their meat intake and look towards plant-based alternatives for a whole variety of health, environmental and ethical reasons.

Collins continued: “At Dee’s we produce vegan food that brings together amazing plant ingredients, carefully combined to create mouth-watering flavours and textures, so a meat-free meal is never a compromise.”

The company’s Swedish launch took a lot of preparation, market research and localisation and was supported by services provided by Bord Bia and Enterprise Ireland, who have local offices supporting Irish businesses in the Nordic region.

Deirdre explains some of the challenges faced by companies taking their first steps into a new market, and why she feels Irish companies need to ensure they reach out to Europe and the world. “I spent several weeks exploring the Swedish market, meeting with retailers and visiting different companies,” she said. “The locally based Bord Bia and Enterprise Ireland offices were a great help, immediately giving us access to absolutely invaluable networking opportunities and insights.

“We have a huge market on our doorstep and I feel it is really important for Irish companies to look beyond our borders and our comfort zone – towards new markets, new cultures and new languages. Ireland has wonderful products and brilliant entrepreneurs – the gift of the gab has given us great networking skills!

“We are part of the EU and in terms of spending power, it is the world’s largest consumer market. Making use of that huge, single market is extremely important for Irish exporters. Brexit has served as a reminder that we need to connect with our neighbours and build business relationships right across Europe and beyond!”

STARRY-EYED SURPRISE

heron-grey

Blackrock restaurant Heron & Grey has been awarded its first Michelin star.

One of Dublin’s smallest restaurants, Heron & Grey is a fine dining restaurant focused on serving modern international cuisine using only seasonal ingredients. The restaurant’s menu changes on a biweekly basis to consistently maintain quality, freshness and creativity. The main team comprises of Andrew Heron, who manages front of house and Damien Grey, who is the head chef. 

Andrew and Damien have been working in the kitchens and dining rooms of Dublin and Australia for the past 15 years. Their mission is to provide guests with the best-sourced produce, delivered in a relaxed atmosphere, showing what hidden Ireland really has to offer in the culinary field.

ON THE WATERFRONT

charlotte-quayThe latest venture by Marc and Conor Bereen, Charlotte Quay hopes to continue the reputation for great food and a welcoming atmosphere that has made such a success of its city-centre sister restaurant, Coppinger Row.

Charlotte Quay’s food is overseen by head chef Killian Durkan, who has created a range of menus – continuing the Coppinger Row ethos of innovating on classic dishes with the best of Irish produce to create a fresh, exciting dining experience with a Mediterranean feel.

Conor Bereen has created the interiors at Charlotte Quay, with many specially commissioned features and bespoke furniture and fixtures. Richly textured and tactile elements contrast with a smooth and sleek structure inspired by the light-dappled water around two sides of the restaurant.

Open Monday to Friday from midday for lunch, dinner and drinks, weekends will feature a relaxed brunch menu from 11am through to dinner on Saturday nights (closed Sunday night).

ROUGH AND CRUMBLE

Based in the LINC at Institute of Technology Blanchardstown, Murryhill Foods is the brainchild of college friends Áine Kinsella and Niamh Duffy. Sourcing only the finest ingredients from approved facilities located in Wexford and Cork, Murryhill Foods combine them creatively to the highest standards.

The company has launched Crumble’n’Crunch, a range of crumbled cheese with complementary toppings designed to enhance salads and pizza dishes.

Crumble’n’Crunch offers many tasty ways to add flavours to a dish: it can be tossed onto fresh leaves to create a delicious healthy salad, or sprinkled onto a pizza base for extra texture and flavour.

Eighteen months in research and development, there are currently three products in the Crumble’n’Crunch range. Each pack serves up two tasty portions, reducing waste for the consumer as there is no need to purchase too much cheese that may not be used – and the packaging is totally re-sealable.

Murryhill Foods has participated in the Bord Bia, Enterprise Ireland and Teagasc Food Works programme run for food entrepreneurs, and won the ‘Innovation in Food Award’ at JumpStart 2015.

pabstBORN IN THE USA

C&C Gleeson, the country’s leading supplier, distributor and wholesaler of beverage products, has announced the rollout of the iconic US beer Pabst Blue Ribbon (PBR) in Ireland. The award-winning US beverage is now distributed to the on- and off-trades across Ireland by C&C Gleeson.

Founded in Milwaukee in 1844, PBR is owned and produced by America’s largest independent brewery, the Pabst Brewing Company. PBR is brewed with a combination of two- and six-row malted barley, select cereal grains, American and European hops, and proprietary lager yeast.

Representing its rich heritage, PBR is a distinctive 4.6% brew that sits comfortably alongside craft and conventional lagers.

Achieving its first accolade more than 140 years ago, the brew started tying a blue ribbon around the neck of each beer to identify it as a first-place winner. 

Dave Whelan, commercial director for C&C Gleeson, said: “PBR is a classic American beer, but it’s never felt more current and relevant than it is today. Bringing a taste of the United States to Ireland is a really exciting step for C&C Gleeson, particularly with such an iconic brand. From a business perspective, the choice of formats for customers, and the benefit of some unique and engaging marketing, yields great results in Pabst’s home country.”