For years, pork scratchings have been a staple snack in the traditional British pub. But Skibbereen-based Matthew Brownie hopes his new start-up food business will make the tasty bite-size nibble as popular in Ireland.
The Kiwi chef, who has lived in West Cork since 2008, came up with the idea for his savoury snack while studying culinary arts in Cork Institute of Technology.
As part of his studies, he completed a project on pork scratchings and identified a potential gap in the Irish market for the product normally associated with the British market. He developed a range of gluten, dairy, and MSG-free Irish pork scratching products in three flavours — cajun, ready salted and smokey bacon.
He achieved top marks for his Scratch My Pork range while in CIT, and went on to win the best business plan award at the Cork County and City Enterprise Boards CIT Prize for Innovation.
He then embarked on a test sale phase, selling the range in plain white bags.
“I started testing the product in a plain white bag and I was blown over with the response as we sold 40,000 units from April 2014 to December 2014,” he said.
He developed the product further, selling it in foil packaging with new branding, and the product took off.
“We are currently selling in over 70 outlets across Munster and Dublin but we now plan to increase that to 500 in the next few months,” he said.
But the development of the products took its toll on him.
“Back in October, I collapsed at home under severe pressure, with handling everything from distribution, accounts, sales, everything, and that scared me to death,” he said.
“I knew then that I needed to let go and let someone put structures and foundations into the business.”
Padraig O’Sullivan, an experienced entrepreneur who has been involved in a number of start-ups, came on board and helped Matthew develop the business.
“Padraig has brought not only structure to my business, but also structure on spending quality time with my family, which is very important,” Matthew said.
“I realise there is still a long way to go, with more hard work ahead, but with an excellent team in place now, I have every confidence that Scratch My Pork will become part of the Irish snack area.”
Matthew is now working on the development of another range of savoury snacks which he hopes to launch in 2016.
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