In 2020 I decided to put my money where my mouth is (literally) and buy foods and drinks from the list of producers on the Food & Drinks On-line Directory, at least once from every county. It was very enjoyable waiting for my weekly deliveries and the courier company were highly amused at the range of parcels they were bringing! In all, I’ve purchased directly from 45 producers’ websites to date, and this doesn’t count those I’ve bought from in shops or in person.
A couple of observations:
Packaging – many producers are moving to recyclable or compostable packaging materials which is really important for online sales. Failing that, Velvet Cloud, for example, will collect and take back their boxes for free once you have 6 of them. I’ve also noticed some really innovative packaging from Morans Mega jams – it looks like soft plastic but its actually fully recyclable!
Variety Packs / Mixed Cases – Mixed boxes are the way to go! Mariko and Ballycross, for example, allow you to pick across their varieties, mixing and matching flavours and quantities. If I was to offer other producers one piece of advice, then this would be it. I don’t want 10 bottles all the same, especially if I’m buying something for the first time. I want the option of a mixed case, and I’m far more likely to buy as a result. Also, look at the minimum quantities – some producers are selling wholesale quantities in a retail shop, that’s not great for consumers.
Collaborations (apart from seasonal hampers) are a great idea – you can buy Joe’s Farm Crisps & Mella’s Fudge through Achill Island Sea Salt; Benny’s Deli has teamed up with Roscommon Chocolates; The Cashel Food Box is a mixed box of the finest, award-winning Tipperary produce.
Postage – if you can at all, keep postage down to less than €8, even if that means you have to absorb part of the cost.
Range of Produce – there are lots of jams & condiments, sauces, chocolates & confectionary, coffee and tea, gin & beer, and baked goods. There seems to be a gap in the on-line market for prepared foods and snacks among others.
So who did I buy from, well, I bought from several producers in some counties, and I bought several times from others including Mariko, Mella’s Fudge, Butler’s Chocolates, Richmount Cordials and Velvet Cloud, all of which became favourites, So, here goes…!
Sea Sugar – handmade sweets, from scratch, using 100% natural extracts, essences and colours
Ballylisk of Armagh – cheese and milk
Linwoods Health Foods – large range of organic milled or dried seeds and berries
Carlow Farmhouse Cheese – cow, goat and sheep cheese
VegOut – fruit and vegetables juices from the people at Sunshine Juices
Moran’s Mega-Jams – Jams, Chutneys and relishes
Burren Smokehouse – hot & cold smoked Irish organic salmon, wild smoked salmon, rainbow trout & mackerel
Mella’s Fudge – handmade fudge
Broighter Gold – Rapeseed oil
Donegal Farmhouse Cheese – “Kilard cheddar”, a Semi Hard Cheese cheese handmade from pasteurised cows milk
Phoenix Delite – specialist chocolates including sugar free, lactose free and gluten free!
Butlers Chocolates – chocolates, truffles & hampers
Black Bacon – rare breed bacon from O’Doherty’s in Enniskillen
Bláth na Mara – edible seaweeds and seaweed bath
Solaris Tea – finest quality specialty organic tea and accessories
Dingle Distillery – gin, vodka, whiskey, and hand sanitiser
Fused by Fiona Uyema – Japanese sauces
Highbank Orchards – Organic syrup, vinegar, spirits and cider
Paddy O’s Granola
Chef Sham sauces – delicious asian inspired selection from Chef Sham Hanifa including Chilli Ketchup, Hoi Sin, One for All and Sweet Chilli sauces
Elements of Chocolate – handcrafted, small batch, gourmet chocolates
The Shed Distillery – Drumshanbo Gunpowder Gin, original, with Sardinian Citrus, & merchandise
Ballyhoura Apple Farm – apple juice, apple cider vinegar, apple chai iced tea and more
Pandora Bell – Handmade lollipops, nougat, fudge and pâtes des fruits!
Richmount Cordials – elderflower cordials
Simply Fit Food – Power bowls (vegan) and ready meals
Spoonful Botanical – a blend of the highest quality Herbs, Spices, and fermented fruits
Phytafix – Immune Phix whole-food, plant-based nutrition supplement
Drummond House – award winning seasonal produce incl garlic varieties and asparagus
Achill Sea Salt – sea salt and fudge
Mariko Green Tea – sparking green tea drink
Velvet Cloud – Irish Sheep’s Milk Yogurt & Cheese from Rockfield Dairy
Noo Chocolates – luxury handmade chocolates from the Wild Atlantic Way
McEntee’s – Award winning traditional Irish loose teas, accessories & gifts
Glaslough Chocolates – handmade chocolates, shards and hampers
Ko Kombucha – Kombucha drinks and starter kits
Benny’s Deli – bread, cakes, jam salads, meats – their hamper also contained Roscommon Chocolates
Bosca Bakery – all sorts of brownies delivered through your letterbox!
Cashel Cheese – cheeses and more in The Cashel Food Box (a mixed box of the finest, award-winning Tipperary produce)
Ispíní Charcuterie – range of Irish cured meats, salami and chorizo
The Lismore Food Company – sweet and savoury delicacies and delicious drinks
Kilbeggan Organic Foods – Organic porridge oats, porridge bread mix and oat cookies
Ballycross Apple Farm – range of apple juice and other flavours
Rhoda Cocoa – artisan luxury chocolate