Bord Bia Awards

Monday, November 14th, 2011

The Bord Bia Food and Drink Industry Awards are designed to reward excellence in the Irish food and drinks industry. The awards, in association with Rabobank, are open to all food and drink products manufactured in Ireland and companies must be in business for a minimum of two fiscal years. Where relevant, it is desirable companies source materials approved under the Bord Bia Quality Assurance Schemes.

This year there were 184 entries in six categories – exporting, branding, entrepreneurial, domestic success, sustainability and innovation. The shortlisted companies for the domestic success, sustainability and innovation categories are profiled below, following last week’s profile of the first three categories. Overall winners will be announced at an awards ceremony on November 22nd. The full list of short-listed categories are: Exporting Award: Kepak, Irish Distillers, Irish Dairy Board; Branding Award: Ina’s Kitchen Desserts, Glenisk, Largo Foods; Entrepreneurial Award: Zanna Cookhouse, Green Saffron, ABC Nutrition; Domestic Success: Keelings, Mc Cormack Farms, Flahavan’s; Sustainability Award: Country Crest, Silverhill Foods, Glenisk; Innovation Award: Dragon Nutrition, Kooky Dough, Natasha’s Living Food.



Keelings is a 100 per cent Irish-owned family company which grows, sources and distributes fresh produce for Irish, UK and European producers. The company, located in north Co Dublin, has a turnover of about €300 million and employs about 2,000 people across nine business units.

The company’s catering business evolved in 2006. Keelings Catering now supplies a range of customers in Ireland, including institutional caterers, schools, hospitals, pubs, hotels and restaurants. Customers include Sodexo, Aramark and Kylemore. Keelings Catering believes its focus on sourcing local produce, grown by local farmers and delivered from local depots differentiates it from multinational players.

Based on customer feedback, Keelings has developed a number of new product ranges including prepared salads, micro herbs and hand-cut chips. It also offers a flexible delivery schedule to customers. The company plans to expand its fresh produce lines, especially in the dairy and bakery sector. Keelings has seen sales growth of more than 20 per cent year on year and was awarded “Supplier of the Year 2011” by the Restaurant Association of Ireland.


Flahavan’s has been milling Irish oats for over six generations at the family mill in Kilmacthomas, Co Waterford. In recent years the company has successfully repositioned its brand, through a dual strategy of raising health awareness and segmenting and recruiting new users to the brand through detailed consumer research. The company is the number one hot oats brand in the Irish market with 66 per cent market share according to the Kantar world Panel. The privately-owned, family-run business sources its conventional and organic oats locally.

Key customers in the domestic market are Musgraves/ Superquinn, Tesco, Dunnes Stores and independent stores and forecourts. Export markets include the UK, Spain, the US , Middle East and India. Flahavan’s is targeting further growth in the US, having launched three new products there in January.

Flahavan’s has seen growth across all its product lines, including traditional porridge and convenience products. Anticipating marketplace changes is a key part of the company’s strategy and Flahavan’s has seen its share of the under-45-year-old market increase by 3.6 percentage points.


Edward and Stephen McCormack have been involved in the vegetable industry for over 30 years. After conducting market research into changing consumer trends they decided to specialise in fresh herbs and baby leaf products. The result was “Loose and Lively”, a range of baby spinach, wild rocket, lambs lettuce and mixed baby leaf. The leaves are unwashed and are subject to less handling and bruising. This means they can be brought to the shelves at a better price point than washed products.

“Loose and Lively” is sold into Groomes, a part of Total Produce, and KK Packs as well as several markets in Smithfield. On the retail side, the McCormacks’ key customers are Dunnes Stores and Tesco.

Mc Cormack Farms has copyrighted its name in the UK and Ireland and plans to increase its retail reach in Ireland initially, with the intention of launching in one of the larger supermarkets in Northern Ireland.

The Co Meath company, which employs 38 people, is also extending its herb offering and is taking on a food science graduate starting under the Inter-trade Ireland Fusion programme.



Established in 1987, Glenisk is a Co Offaly-based, family- run producer of organic dairy and goats milk products. The company switched to organic production in 1995, and now procures up to 90 per cent of the organic milk produced in Ireland. The company’s sales increased by 25 per cent this year. Glenisk moved into the export market last year and its products, both branded and private label, are available in Great Britain, Portugal and Spain. Glenisk plans to develop its brand in Western Europe, focusing on Germany, in 2012.

SUSTAINABILITY: As well as promoting organic agriculture, Glenisk works to reduce the company’s environmental impact. Glenisk has its own wind turbine and supplements its energy consumption using wind energy provided by Airtricity. Its waste water system is managed through an innovative reed bed system, which was upgraded last year by adding live bacteria to waste water as a pre-treatment mechanism. The company began auditing its carbon footprint in 2008 and has reduced its emissions by 10 per cent each year. It aims to become a carbon neutral facility in 2012. In 2010, the company purchased its first electric vehicle.


One of the leading duck companies in Europe, Silverhill Food was founded almost 50 years ago by Ronnie and Lyla Steele in Emyvale, Co Monaghan. All aspects of Silverhill’s duck production are owned and controlled by Silver Hill Foods from breeding, egg production, hatching and selection to processing and cooking. The company exports into all European countries and across the Middle East, Far East and China, supplying retailers, wholesalers, as well as top-end restaurants. The company’s target for 2013 is to achieve sales of 30 million per annum.

SUSTAINABILITY: Sustainability forms an integral part of Silver Hill’s philosophy. One of the company’s current projects is the development of a fully integrated duck waste management facility, the first in the world. The project, in the final stages of commissioning, involves the creation of a dry manure pellet for horticultural use and generation of green energy through the utilisation of biogas produced in Silverhill’s patented wastewater treatment plant. The company is also re-examining the option of installing of a wind turbine due to a new Government initiative in the UK.


A family-owned business located in Lusk, Co Dublin, Country Crest initially specialised in potato growing and packing. Today it has expanded to become Ireland’s largest onion grower and a producer of prepared meals. The company has listings in Tesco, Dunnes Stores and Superquinn as well as Tesco, Hendersons, Asda and independent supermarkets in Northern Ireland.

SUSTAINABILITY: In March 2009, the company took advantage of its naturally-elevated site and built a wind turbine, becoming the first food producer in Ireland to become an autoproducer – producing energy to power its own plant. Excess power is exported to the grid, thus generating a revenue stream. It is envisaged the €1.5 million project will have paid for itself within six years. For the last two years, almost 50 per cent of the company’s power requirement has been produced by the turbine and monthly power bills have been reduced by up to €20,000.

The company plans to build an anaerobic digester, which will digest all food and vegetable waste produced on site, to produce methane gas to drive a generator.



Wexford-based Dragon Nutrition is a leader in the development and manufacture of functional supplement products for the sports, fitness, lifestyle and wellness sectors. Founded in 2009, Dragon is a part of the J Donohoe Beverages Group. As well as manufacturing its own product, Little Dragon Shots, Dragon Nutrition develops and manufactures functional nutrition products for clients in Ireland, UK, France, Poland, and the company is exploring opportunities in other markets.

PRODUCT: Little Dragon Shots are a range of 60ml functional liquid food supplements which offer consumers solutions to a range of everyday health and wellness issues, such as kickstarting a fitness regime, supplementing protein intake and maintaining good mental performance.

Distinctively designed in a series of bold colours, the products are on sale in more than 200 pharmacies in Ireland, though this is set to increase following a recent contract with a major distribution partner. The products, which were launched in London in August, are are also sold online through the company’s own website and Amazon.


Kooky Dough was founded by Sophie Morris and Graham Clark in 2009. The business venture is a far cry from their original careers in finance, but on coming up with the idea for a ready-made dough mix, designed to be rolled out and cooked at home, the pair took the concept from farmers’ markets to supermarkets. The company supplies product to the Irish and UK market. Key customers in Ireland include Tesco, Supervalu, Superquinn, Dunnes Stores and it also supplies Four Star Pizza and Apache Pizza with frozen portions which are baked in-store. The company plans to pursue other retail listings in the UK, and are looking to expand into Europe, particularly France, and the Middle East.

PRODUCT: Slice and Bake Cookie Rolls are the easy-to-use rolls of Kooky Dough ready-made dough mix. Each roll makes 15 cookies and customers slice the dough, place it on a baking tray and bake for eight minutes. Baking parchment is also provided. Kooky Dough is available in four flavours – Chocolate Chip, Chocolate and Hazelnut, Triple Chocolate, White Chocolate and Cranberry.


Natasha’s Living Food was founded three and a half years ago by Natasha Czopor. A vegetarian, Natasha felt there were few healthy snacks on the market and she developed a range of snack foods that are free from wheat, sugar, dairy, gluten and egg. All product is cold-pressed, unprocessed and raw. The company, based in Stoneybatter, Dublin, produces a range of cakes, confectionary, savoury snacks and salads. Products range from Cacao and Ginger Ganache Tart, carrot and thyme crackers, raw chocolate bars and sprouted flax ginger snaps. They are available in 75 stores across Ireland including deli’s, health food stores and Supervalu. The company hopes to expand into the UK.

PRODUCT: Kale Crunchies are a healthy alternative to traditional crisps. Unlike the traditional potato and oil formula, Kale Crunchies are made from kale grown locally in Ireland, covered in a sunflower seed pate, and dried at 40 degrees to preserve the flavour and vitamins and minerals. Packaged in a distinctive natural, earth-coloured pouch, the 75-gram product is available at farmers’ markets, health foods shops and independent stores across Ireland.

Source: Suzanne Lynch, The Irish Times

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