Three new Meath food producers now stocked in SuperValu stores

Leading Irish food retailer SuperValu has announced that products from three new Meath producers, who have successfully completed the Food Academy programme, are now on sale in SuperValu stores.

Brubiotics, Jacked-Up and A Bit On The Side are three of 45 new Irish food producers who have completed the Food Academy programme.

Now in its eighth year, Food Academy is a unique food business development programme between SuperValu, Bord Bia and the Local Enterprise Offices. Participants in the programme receive training in food safety, market research and branding, marketing, finance, sustainability, and business development.

New research conducted by SuperValu for the launch of Food Academy found that Irish food and drinks start-ups are optimistic about their future growth, with 93 per cent indicating they expect revenue growth in 2021.

Despite the various challenges posed for the sector by the COVID-19 pandemic, 71 per cent of producers plan to expand their workforce in 2021.

Lorna Cooney, Senior Enterprise Development officer at Local Enterprise Office, Meath, said: "Since its introduction eight years ago by the Local Enterprise Offices, SuperValu and Bord Bia, the Food Academy programme has been hugely successful, going from strength to strength. It has helped hundreds of up-and-coming small food producers to get their products market-ready, giving them an opportunity to sell to a nationwide audience, We are thrilled to have three fantastic food and drink producers from Meath proceed to store listings with SuperValu and hope the consumers of Meath will #LookForLocal and support these producers by adding their delicious products to their shopping basket.

She added: "The Food Academy is part of a suite of Local Enterprise Office, Meath supports aimed at food and drink entrepreneurs in Ireland, such as the Digital School of Food and Food Starter programmes, both aimed at getting those with food ideas off the ground. As food and drink producers around Meath grow their sales through these programmes, the LEO Meath are on hand to support their expansion plans through further training, mentoring and financial assistance."

A Bit on the Side

Hilary McGrath, founder of A Bit on the Side, explains: “Sitting in our friends’ kitchen in Canada having drinks and nibbles is where our business started - I didn’t know it at the time though. All those moons ago, as our children played together we talked about our upbringings – theirs in northern Alberta, ours in rural Ireland. Being very isolated, they learned how to grow, preserve and cook really great food and we were frequently the beneficiaries of this skill!

“That evening, sweltering in the summer prairie heat, I tasted something that blew my mind - Jalapeno Jelly. Paired with cheese and crackers, it was one of the most delicious things I had ever eaten. The next day I set about making my own version of this delicious condiment; we would never be without it again!”

Upon returning to Ireland, it was apparent that not only was Jalapeno Jelly not available in shops, there was no actual range of jellies available either. Jelly is a fabulous base for many flavours, its lightness, and purity, is the perfect medium to deliver a fresh, honest taste to the palate. Hilary started to develop her own range of jellies using herbs and spices that her family loved.

“These, we would serve for our own nights in or when we had friends over, and they were a huge hit. As my children started to leave home and have their own travel adventures, I decided that long threatening had come at last, I would start my own food business!

At Blas nah Eireann, it won Best Startup Business, Best in Meath, Best in Farmers Market and Red Jalapeno Jelly won gold.

“As for our name? Who doesn’t fancy A Bit on the Side?!”

Amazing Amazake from Brubiotics

Brubiotics is a Navan based company set up in October 2020 by Colum Harrington, with the aim of bringing new, innovative, and healthy fermented food and drinks to market.

Its first product is a drink called Amazake, made in two flavours – Ginger with Turmeric and Matcha Tea. Amazake is a traditional fermented rice drink which has been consumed in Japan for hundreds of years and it is still popular there today. The Japanese sometimes refer to Amazake as “Drinkable IV” (as in “intravenous drip”) because of its legendary restorative properties. It can be consumed hot or cold, has a smooth sweet flavour, is naturally gluten free and also suitable for vegans. The fermentation process allows nutrients in the rice to become more available for beneficial gut bacteria – hence Amazake’s reputation as an amazing gut friendly drink.

Colum says: “While Brubiotics Ltd is newly formed – our roots in food and fermentation go back a long way. I have been fermenting from an early age - helping my mum make hedge-grow jams, jellies and all sorts of home brew wines. This is where my passion for all things fermentation began. I studied Food Science in UCC and I have been lucky to work with some leading Irish food companies since. In my spare time I have always been experimenting with fermentation – making sauerkrauts, kimchis, home brewed beer and wines, mead, koji. This experimentation led me to discover the amazing drink called Amazake.”

Amazake with Ginger & Turmeric is a traditional combination which is famed in Japan for its anti-inflammatory and protective qualities. It helps with exercise recovery and provides a kick start to the day. Matcha Tea is said to benefit immunity and energy levels and its distinctive taste is balanced by the sweetness of amazake. Matcha Lattes are a great alternative for a mid-morning boost.

Jacked-Up

Dunshaughlin-based food start-up, Jacked-Up, has created three new vegan products full of flavour, based on the nutritious jackfruit. Jackfruit is a fruit that grows from a tree in Southern India where Jacked-Up’s founders first discovered it as a staple of the diet.

Jacked-Up was the brainchild of business partners, Gursharan Singh and Binu Varghese, from Lucan, who are based in Dunshaughlin Business Park.. This food start-up was created in 2020 when the directors realised a clear gap in the market for healthy and tasty vegan alternatives in Ireland. Both directors have roots in India and are involved in the Asian retail sector and food distribution industry with 20 years of experience in Ireland, which provided access to an authentic main ingredient for a new vegan product - jackfruit.

Jackfruit is packed full of nutrition, is low in sugar, and calories and has the additional benefit of being similar in taste and texture to a recognisable food - pulled pork - making it an ideal meat replacement. Vegan and vegetarian food trends have been increasing as the public become more knowledgeable about the choices they have and the benefits of a plant-based diet. Jacked-Up’s brand new product range can be consumed hot or cold, as they are or added to salad bowls, used as pizza toppings, burger fillings, or for tacos and wraps.

With a texture like pulled pork and packed with nutrients, all that Jacked-Up has done is add the best flavours such as smokey pulled BBQ, spicy tex mex, and Indian curry.

Singh said of the range:"Jacked-Up was born from a desire to provide a nutritional, tasty meat-replacement meal that could be enjoyed by vegans and vegetarians as well as everybody else. We wanted to be the ones to introduce this super-tasty superfood to Ireland as we couldn’t believe it wasn’t popular here.

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