Artisan Food Production

In 2016, Ireland exported prepared foods with an estimated value of €1.9 billion. This category hides a glittering array of wonderful products.

Artisan foods are products created with a greater focus on the uniqueness of each ingredient, offering freshness, novelty and a sense of being close to the producer.

Good Food Ireland (www.goodfoodireland.ie) links artisan food producers with the Irish hospitality sector, promoting the best of the two industries.

In the past decade, Farmers Markets have enjoyed a renaissance in Ireland. These are often the testing ground for firms whose product ranges develop and grow from humble beginnings, often ending up on the retail shelves in Ireland and abroad.

Firms like Glenilen (www.glenilen.com) in west Cork have developed from the kitchen table to the retail shelves of the major retailers in the UK. Similar success stories can be found across Ireland, including Cashel Blue cheese (www.cashelblue.com), Mileeven honey (www.mileeven.com), Burren Smokehouse (www.burrensmokehouse.ie) and Silverhill Foods (www.silverhillfoods.com).         

While the UK food export market dropped 9% in 2016 due to the Brexit vote and competitive pressures, this was offset by increased exports to international and emerging markets such as North America (+€200 million to reach €1.1 billion), China (+35% to reach €845 million) and the rest of Asia (+6% to reach €330 million)

Artisan cheese producers in Ireland are gaining a growing following both at home and abroad. In January 2012, there were 60 registered farmhouse cheese makers in Ireland. For information on the sector, (www.irishcheese.ie )

In fact, most of the current crop of cheese makers commenced operations since the 1980’s. Names such as Cashel Blue, Mileens, Gubeen, Coolea, Ardrahan, Carrigbyrne and Cooleeney have their unique flavour and provenance. Some of their stories are wonderfully told in Farmhouses cheeses of Ireland, a celebration, which was published in 2011. The authors are Glynn Anderson and John McLaughlin. Bord Bia also offer an excellent guide to Irish farmhouse cheeses (www.bordbia.ie/aboutfood/farmhousecheese).

In 2011, a cheese called Kilkree won the coveted Supreme Champion Award at the British Cheese awards. It is produced by Helen Finnegan of Knockdrinna in Co Kilkenny, one of a new generation of Irish farmhouse cheesemakers.

More details on Irish artisan food producers is available from An Bord Bia (www.bordbia.ie)


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