Seven neighbouring food companies in north Cork and east Limerick have boosted their business by launching the umbrella brand A Taste of Ballyhoura Country.
Michael Horgan of Horgan’s Delicatessen Supplies in Mitchelstown, Co Cork, has enjoyed an instant response from one large retail chain, clearly impressed by the marketing appeal of the new brand.
“We have one of the country’s key retail groups who has expressed strong interest in our Angus products,” said Mr Horgan. “We have been knocking on the door of that large retailer for the past 12 months, and within a week of the launch of the new brand, they’re showing strong interest. I’d rather not name the retailer until it is all fully agreed.
“Food producers may be a bit thinner on the ground in this area than in, say, West Cork. This umbrella brand has given us great confidence. A lot of good will come out of this new brand.”
Launched earlier this week at the Ballyhoura Food Fair in Kilmallock, Co Limerick, the new Ballyhoura brand was also boosted by a TV slot on the RTÉ One show Nationwide.
Mr Horgan linked the success to the packaging and marketing campaign pushing the new products. Above all, however, he said visitors to the Kilmallock launch were delighted with the quality of food being promoted.
“My arms were worn out from cutting ham,” said Mr Horgan. “Even though it was a free promotional event, one woman wanted to buy a few pounds of fresh ham to bring it home. People may be spending a little less, but they still want quality above all else, and that’s what they’re getting with this new brand.”
The other companies currently participating in the project include household names such as Ballyhoura Apple Farm, Clotilde’s Fruit Compotes, Eight Degrees Brewing, Hodgins Foods, Old Irish Creamery Cheeses, and Pandora Bell Confectionery.
The branding initiative is backed by Ballyhoura Development, whose food sector enterprise officer, Claire Horgan, notes that all of the food products are already individually recognised for their unique qualities, traceability and use of the finest raw materials.
“We’re using the word ‘craftisan’ to describe the produce as it has connotations of skill, imagination and a hands-on artisan approach,” said Ms Horgan. “These local businesses are the lifeblood of several rural communities and can hold their own on the national and international stages in terms of quality.”
Teagasc has helped the group draw up industry standard codes of practice. Investment is also being channelled into training programmes for producers.
Ms Horgan said: “The plan is to assist our companies in expanding their route to market where possible.”
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