By Kate Ryan
WEST Cork, fresh from winning the 2017 title of Best Irish Foodie Destination, and in the middle of the Taste of West Cork food festival is showing no loss of appetite for exceptional Irish food.
Lidl Ireland has recognised this and reached out to small Irish food producers to encourage them to put their finest product forward to represent the best of what Ireland has to offer with their new Kick Start Supplier Development Programme. Over 160 producers applied, and 66 have been selected for the final showcase, two of which hail from West Cork.
Bia Ganbreise Teo, based in Ballingeary, are known for making delicious ready to bake gluten-free cookie dough under the brand name Gookies, while Irish Atlantic Sea Salt on the stunning Beara Peninsula, produce a natural and flavoured sea salt from the Atlantic Coast.
Jonathan Dawson, general manager of Bia Ganbreise Teo, is delighted with the opportunity the programme presents for his business.
‘It’s quite difficult for a small manufacturer like us to access to nationwide distribution that Lidl are offering under this initiative,’ Mr Dawson said. ‘Our product will be for sale in all 153 Lidl stores across Ireland, which means we can keep the focus on manufacturing a great product while Lidl handles all our distribution.’
Bia Ganbriese Teo will be supplying two of their four flavours of Gookies for the Kick Start promotion – milk chocolate and cranberry and white chocolate.
‘The other huge benefit is of course that so many more people will see our product,’ Mr Dawson said. ‘For the duration of the promotion, we will be supplying Gookies in our own branded packaging. This means that new customers will get to connect with our brand – who we are and what we do, straight away.’
Aileen O’Neill, who runs Irish Atlantic Sea Salt with her husband Michael, is delighted to have three of their flavoured sea salts in the Kick Start programme.
They will be supplying Lidl with their Garlic, Chili & Paprika and Lemon & Pepper flavoured salts. ‘We heard about the programme through Bord Bia and Taste Cork,’ Aileen said. ‘We applied, but we weren’t confident about being selected, so it was a great surprise to get the news. It’s always great to receive a large order in, and because we have a purpose-built factory, we are more than able to get everything in motion to fulfil the order. We hope that our products do well during the promotion. We like to be optimistic, all doors are open.’ Kick Start is run by Lidl in conjunction with Bord Bia, the organisation headed up by another West Cork native, Tara McCarthy.
‘We know from experience that local food producers face significant challenges if they wish to expose their product to a national audience,’ Tara said. ‘I warmly welcome this initiative as it is an invaluable opportunity for Irish producers to market and showcase their products to consumers nationwide. With that in mind, I would encourage all small to medium size companies to apply.’
John Paul Scally, managing director of Lidl Ireland, said: ‘We will be investing over €250,000 in the first year.’