Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Dubliners who started successful businesses from their own kitchens now in top retailer

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Nicola Kerins, founder of Nic’s Tea, started her business 12 years ago when there was very little quality Irish leaf tea blends available to buy locally or online.

“I was very interested in classic and healthy herbals, but I found that I couldn’t really find an Irish brand and there wasn’t a big range,” Nicola told the Irish Independent.

Nicola Kerins, founder of Nic’s Tea, started her business 12 years ago

“I started it from my kitchen table 12 years ago and it developed. We make everything ourselves in a big production facility in Rathcoole.

“It just started off as my interest and my love of tea. We tested the waters at local farmers markets and food events, and we found tea drinkers who loved our teas.”

Nicola is taking the current trends of tea and coffee drinkers and has created two new products especially for Aldi.

“We’ve been successful in our application to participate in Grow with Aldi this year. We developed two new products for it,” she said.

“It’s iced tea. We’ve an iced cherry which is organic, and a mango flavoured one too. They’re really cool flavours.

“Iced tea and coffee have really taken off, so we thought it’d be good to introduce it, give people the opportunity to try something new and explore new products.”

Conor Bacon created the Too Savage range from his own kitchen

Meanwhile, Conor Bacon is the founder of Too Savage, Ireland’s first premium mayo brand that is also 100pc plant-based.

“I’ve always been involved with food and cooking. I was managing coffee shops but, on the side, I liked to create things,” he said.

“I was cooking plant-based food for years when I was working in the coffee industry. I came up with the products at home just three years ago.

“Our first product, the spicy mayo, my brother tasted it at home before it had the label and he said: ‘That’s savage’. That’s where we came up with the name Too Savage, it’s a real Dublin thing.

“We make the products as healthy as possible too, we don’t add any sugar to the recipe, just good quality ingredients, no funny business.”

A third Dublin entrepreneur, Gerrard Ó Farrell, has decided to give fans of his Smokin’ Bones restaurants the experience of eating his food at home with the help of Aldi.

Over Covid, the restaurant owner had to do takeaway options which inspired his new product. His new microwavable pulled pork is perfect for anyone who doesn’t have time to cook.

“Smokin’ Bones is a restaurant chain we started 10 years ago. We’ve five different outlets and we’ve a production unit in Stoneybatter. We’ve 80 employees in total,” he said.

“Our new product is very versatile, you open the pouch, put it in the microwave for two and a half minutes, it’s exactly what it’s like in the restaurant.

“We do the hard work; we cook it for 12 hours and we sauce it afterwards. It’s bringing restaurant quality food into your home, but it’s actually coming straight from our restaurant.”

The 27 food and drink entrepreneurs, finalists for this year’s Grow With Aldi campaign

Following a nationwide search for Ireland’s most talented and innovative suppliers in the food and drink industry, these ambitious suppliers will have their products in Aldi stores nationwide.

From May 23, for a limited period, Irish shoppers will have the chance to buy the products. Then Aldi will award contracts to a select few finalists following this trial sales period.

Cassie Stokes, Grow With Aldi ambassador, said: “We are so lucky to live on an Island that is so rich in food and drink culture, and I can’t wait for the nation to celebrate the Grow With Aldi finalists with us.”

Fiona Twomey, Global Retail Specialist with Bord Bia, added: “The programme continues to champion Irish suppliers, helping them on their journey to success in the competitive Irish retail and food sector.

“The standard of products on offer among the finalists is, as ever, extremely high, and I wish each of them the very best of luck in their trial period across Aldi stores.”

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