IQFA Awards – Shortlisted!

It’s always nice to get good news, especially these days. On Wednesday last I learned that the Oonagheats.com Food & Drinks Producers’ On-Line Directory (what a mouthful!) had got the attention of the judges at the Irish Quality Food Awards. It turns out that I’d been nominated and subsequently shortlisted for an award!

It’s the COVID-19 Response Frontline Hero category at the 2020 Irish Quality Food and Drink Performance Awards. Thank you so much to those of you who nominated me, I’m so pleased / chuffed / thrilled / all of the above!

But I’m really more pleased at having been able to do something small to help food & drinks producers to survive in the face of lost orders and customers as restaurants, cafes and hotels closed due to COVID-19. Some producers reported a loss of 75% of their sales. It is the food & drinks producers who are the real heroes, I mean it.

Fingers crossed for the awards event on December 11th – I’ll let you know what happens. You can read about all the other categories and shortlisted entrants here.

Long list of food & drinks producers online and growing!

Good morning!

As you know, most of the shops are shut because of the COVID-19 restrictions. We cannot physically go into our local retailers and many of us are shopping more on line now than we ever did. The problem is that when you search for something, more often than not, the first page of results brings up retailers with plenty of money to spend on marketing, and frequently these are overseas. Not so for our smaller food & drinks producers.

As Christmas approaches, and Black Friday looms, online shopping will become even busier and I’m asking you, please, to buy from Irish producers and suppliers first. Make a little effort to find your food, drink and gifts locally, and by local I mean on the island of Ireland. It might be a little more expensive, but in the long run, unless we support Irish producers and suppliers now, saving jobs and supporting the local economy, we will pay dearly for it later.

The list that I started back in April with 40 producers has now grown and this morning its at 213!! Every day I’m being contacted by producers asking to be included and I’m only delighted to do so.

Here is the current list (as of this morning, November 3rd) in order from the county with the most (Cork) to that with the fewest (Kildare):

Cork26
Galway17
Dublin15
Meath15
Mayo11
Sligo10
Tipperary9
Louth8
Donegal7
Wicklow7
Clare6
Kerry6
Kilkenny6
Leitrim6
Longford6
Tyrone5
Antrim4
Armagh4
Cavan4
Laois4
Offaly4
Roscommon4
Waterford4
Carlow3
Derry3
Down3
Fermanagh3
Limerick3
Monaghan3
Westmeath3
Wexford3
Kildare1
TOTAL213

I’m absolutely sure that there are many more producers out there that meet the criteria for inclusion in this directory, so please, spread the word, tell them to get in touch, remind them that its a free service, and encourage your family & friends to buy Irish!

Reminder – this list of for Irish food & drinks producers only who have both an e-commerce site and who are delivering.

Where can you rent kitchen / food production space?

One question I’m frequently asked is where a food producer, who had outgrown their home kitchen or whose home kitchen isn’t suitable, or who wants to expand, can rent kitchen / production space. I put together a list last year which is still fairly up to date, but I’m wondering if there are any cafes or restaurants or community centres that are closed at the moment who might be willing to rent their kitchens out? If so, please get in touch.

A number of food units around the country can be rented by the hour, week or longer term. Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs), Councils, the Rural Development Companies and some community and private enterprises have built proper food units finished to food production standard that you can rent – contact your local council, community office or enterprise company to enquire. Here is a selection on the island of Ireland:

Northern Ireland

The only Food Business Incubation Centre at the time of writing is situated at Loughry Campus in Cookstown, Co. Tyrone. The Centre was opened in 1998 and provides the food supply chain with eight purpose-built food processing factory units finished to the highest standards in two sizes, 175mand 225m2 (www.cafre.ac.uk). At the time of writing last year, there were plans afoot to build a second food enterprise centre in Armagh, but I’ll need to follow this up and see where its at.

Republic of Ireland

Connacht

The Food Hub in Drumshanbo, Co. Leitrim is a shining example. Operational since 2004, the Food Hub provides 26,000 sq. ft. of premium food production space across 14 independent work units and the Community Kitchen is a timeshare production unit where start-up food businesses can make their foods in a fully-equipped kitchen, paying by the hour (currently €15/hour) with no commitment other than to bring your own ingredients (www.thefoodhub.com);

Moy Valley Resources IRD has clients occupying Enterprise Units at a number of locations around Ballina, Co. Mayo, for a mixture of both food and non-food producers (www.moyvalley.ie);

Enterprise Castlerea in Co. Roscommon is currently developing a new facility which will include a kitchen and units to rent, called An Chistin in the Enterprise Hub; (www.castlereaenterprisehub.ie)

Castlehill Foods is a 900 sq. ft. (84m2) kitchen and food production premises available to hire outside Killala, Co. Mayo (contact Clair O’Connor on (087) 652 6065);

There is a new community kitchen available to rent in Balla, Co.Mayo. Contact Seamus Caulfield ballacrdmanager@gmail.com

Munster 

The North Tipperary Food Works in Rearcross, Newport, Co. Tipperary was developed by North Tipperary Food Enterprise Centre (Rearcross) Ltd. An old creamery building was converted into a premium food workspace. There is a timeshare kitchen and production units for rental. At the time of writing, the cost of rental of the timeshare kitchen is €15 per hour + VAT for the fully equipped kitchen which includes gas, water and electricity. The Food Production units cost €550 per month + VAT and as a tenant, you kit them out yourself as well as taking over utility bills (www.northtippfoodworks.ie);

The Limerick Food Centre at Raheen Business Park provides food manufacturing and processing units for commercial letting. Contact Gerry Fitzmaurice, M: +353-86-6380596, T: +353-61-712860, Gerry.Fitzmaurice@shannonproperties.ie(www.shannonproperties.ie);

The Ferbane Food Campus in Co.Offaly opened in 2003. Contact Donal Egan, Business Development Manager, Mobile: 085 877 6098 Tel: 090 6453926 Email: donal@ferbanefoodcampus.ie www.ferbanefoodcampus.ie

Cork County Council operates Cork Incubator Kitchens and can be contacted via www.corkincubatorkitchens.ie

Leinster

Nutgrove Enterprise Park, Dublin has two high-spec food production units, each 59.45m2 with own-door ground floor access and parking (www.nutgrove-enterprisepark.ie / info@dlrceb.ie);

SPADE Enterprise Centre is a community-based enterprise centre in the converted St. Paul’s Church at North King Street, Dublin (contact Susan Richardson, Centre Manager, (01) 617 4830 www.spade.ie);

Terenure Enterprise Centre (Dublin) has 3 fully-serviced food units (01) 490 3237 / www.terenure-enterprise.ie;

Hour Kitchen is a well equipped facility in Churchtown, Dublin 14.Tel. +353 1 298 0839; E-mail. info@hourkitchen.ie

In Kilkenny, The School of Food offers a commercial Kitchen for small or growing food businesses, professional Chefs or home Cooks to rent on a daily basis. Costs are €90 + VAT @ 23% per day or €45 + VAT @ 23% per half day and includeWaste, Electricity, Sanitizing Solution for Cleaning, Gas, Cleaning Equipment. Contact them at https://schooloffood.ie/incubation-kitchen

Newmarket Kitchen has opened in Bray. Co.Wicklow and offers shared kitchen space on a membership basis. Full details are available on www.newmarketkitchen.ie

Wicklow Enterprise Centre has two food units, comprising 92sq.m. and 85sq.m. approx, over two floors. Contact 0404-66433 www.wicklowenterprise.ie

Ulster

Údarás na Gaeltachta has three food units in Co. Donegal (www.udaras.ie);

Ballybay Food Park, Co.Monaghan has 3 units and an existing Production/Test/Training Kitchen already in the building. Tel: +353 87 602 5291  www.enterprisingmonaghan.ie

NAMECOUNTYShared / Community KitchenFOOD PRODUCTION UNITS
Enterprise and Research Incubation Campus CarlowCarlow02
Limerick Food CentreClare03
Ballyhoura Food CentreCork01
BIM Seafood Development KitchenCork12
Cork Incubator KitchensCork10
Kickstart KitchensCork20
Base Enterprise CentreDublin20
Enterprise Centres Ireland EastDublin10
Hour KitchenDublin40
Nutgrove Enterprise ParkDublin20
SPADE EnterpriseDublin119
Teagasc Food Research CentreDublin02
Terenure Enterprise CentreDublin02
The Liffey Trust Food HubDublin010
Acorn KitchensKildare10
The School of FoodKilkenny10
Mountmellick Food HubLaois13
The Food HubLeitrim118
Limerick Racecourse KitchenLimerick20
Ballyhoura Food CentreLimerick02
North East Regional Food CentreLouth10
Clar IRDMayo10
St. Coleman’s Training CentreMayo10
Moy Valley ResourcesMayo0tbc
Ballybay Enterprise ParkMonaghan10
Ferbane Food CampusOffaly13
The North Tipperary Food WorksTipperary13
Food Business Incubation CentreTyrone18
Newmarket KitchenWicklow10
Wicklow Enterprise CentreWicklow02
THIRD LEVEL INSTITUTIONS with available kitchen Space   
Athlone ITWestmeath10
Cork ITCork09
GMITGalway72
IT TallaghtDublin20
IT TraleeKerry22
Letterkenny ITDonegal50
St. Angela’s CollegeSligo10
PLANNED    
An ChistinRoscommon 10
Bia Innovator CampusGalway 12
Ballybay Enterprise ParkMonaghan04
Cavan LEOCavantbctbc

New directory resource for food & drinks producers selling on line!

Good morning everyone,

Spring is Sprung and its a lovely day here. I hope it is where you are too, though I’m afraid we’re not able to go out too far to enjoy it. I’ve been thinking a lot over the past few days about how I might be able to help my food and drinks producer clients and others during these difficult times. I know there is a lot of information coming at us, it can be overwhelming. I’m not sure I can take another online seminar at the moment to be honest!

Resilience is a trait that I think we all need in spades, especially now. Rearranging our lives, our routines, our work, trying not to lose clients, trying to show agility, compromise, accommodation, its all a bit exhausting.

I wanted to do something practical, something useful and tangible, not more talking, and not just sending out more information as there’s a lot of noise already! So, I’ve set up a new page here on Oonagheats.com where you’ll find a directory listing food and drink producers around the country who are now selling online and delivering. So many have lost their routes to market over the past few weeks since farmers markets, country markets, cafés and restaurants are closed and this is just a little helping hand (I hope) to try and get the word out there.

So if you are a food or drinks producer who has had to move to online sales since farmers’ markets and many retail shops are now closed, or your distribution channels have stopped, please get in touch so I can include you. All I need is your business name, website shop link and the county you’re in.

You can email me on moneyforjambook@gmail.com

Hang in there, this too shall pass.

Oonagh x

IQFA Food Hero winner!

This post is long overdue, but back in October 2019 I was awarded the inaugural Food Hero award from the IQFAs (Irish Quality Food and Drink Awards), sponsored by Aldi Ireland. Needless to say I was absolutely delighted!

The 2019 Irish Quality Food and Drink Awards took place on Thursday 24 October at The Clayton Hotel on Burlington Road, Dublin. Hector O’hEochagáin was MC for the event. The evening was a huge success with food producers and retailers being recognised for their hard work.

Here I am pictured with John Curtin, Group Buying Director, Aldi Ireland and Hector O’hEochagáin.

Top Tips for starting your own small food business

I’m currently working on the 2nd Edition of my book, Money for Jam – the essential guide to starting your own small food business. It was published in September 2013, and since then, legislation has changed in relation to food labelling, or Food Information for Consumers (FIC) as its known in the trade! So, I thought this might be a good time just to share my top tips for starting out, just to keep you happy until my new book is published that is!

The header image (taken by @annaclarequinn) features a few jam producers I’ve come across – Daisy’s Pantry from Co.Louth, a Blas na hEireann winner; BoPeep Jams from Drumshanbo. Co.Leitrim, relaunched recently and a favourite of many childhoods of the past; Bramble Lodge Foods fro Co.Sligo; Erin Grove from Fermanagh (I love love love this unusual flavour!!) and Murson Farm, also from Sligo.


(1) Do your research – check out the competition! Is anyone else doing what you’re thinking about doing? If so, are they doing it well? Can you do it better? Look at their packaging, prices, where they’re selling, portion size, labels, branding.

(2) Try to fill a gap – make something that isn’t already available locally. While it’s very easy to start baking at home, the market might be saturated with cupcakes in your area. Shop keepers are always looking for something different that will sell.

(3) Work out your costs – how much does it cost you in ingredients and time to make it (and don’t forget to pay yourself!). This will help you to work out how much you can charge for it:

A Cost to produce (raw materials & packaging)
B Cost of processing / baking / preparation
C Cost of transport
D Cost of selling (market fees, store charges)
E Staff costs – starting with your own required income!
F TOTAL
G Sales value
PROFIT (G-F)

(4) Ensure that your kitchen can handle your new food business – ask your local authority / Environmental Health Officer to call and take a look. Most home kitchens are fine for low risk foods like baked goods, bread, jams, vegetarian, but NOT ok for meat, fish, dairy, prepared salads, sandwiches. You might have to extend or move to a suitable premises.

(5) Get Advice – from mentors, advisors, networks, Local Enterprise Offices and others – ask everyone for help, there’s plenty of it out there so you don’t have to shoulder all the burden! Check out www.supportingsmes.ie for potential funding supports.

(6) Leave the Branding / logos until you have your recipes sorted out. People love this part, but sometimes jump ahead to it too soon! Branding is no quick job, it takes consideration. Check out this handy guide.

(7) Labelling is really important – there are very particular legal requirements for labels which you must follow including Allergen declaration, weight, nutrition information, ingredients and so on. make sure you do this properly before you print labels or order packaging. Mistakes can be costly!

(8) Packaging will help protect your food as well as simply presenting it for sale. packaging might also determine the target market – no matter how good the food is, if the packaging is cheap and shoddy looking, it won’t sell to high end consumers.

(10) JUST DO IT – Once you make your first sale – you’re in business!

The photos below feature some producers from Mayo & Roscommon who took part in the Bord Bia / SuperValu Food Academy programme in 2016/17, one day this could be you!