(Ice) Cream of the crop: Latest Irish firms chosen for Food Works

Cold-pressed vegetable ice-pops, a nutrient-rich postnatal drink for new mothers and a range of sheep milk products are among the new concepts to be further developed as part of Food Works, an Irish accelerator programme for food and drink start-up companies.

Run in a joint effort by Bord Bia, Enterprise Ireland and Teagasc, the Food Works programme has worked with 76 food and drink companies over the last five years to encourage innovative new product ideas, while supporting the growth of the sector on a global scale.

Following a “rigorous selection process”, nine ambitious Irish food and drink companies have been selected to take part in Food Works 2018.

Many of these are developing products in response to the growing demand for healthier convenient options, including: a range of nutrient-rich 4-minute meal pots; a convenient healthy stir-in sauce; chilled vegetable bites for children; a range of luxury health foods; and high-protein fibre bars.

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Broderick and Trin O’Neill, Wellnice Foods; Shane Ryan, FEED; Niall Harty, Origin Clean Protein Bars; and Leonie Lynch, Juspy representing four new food companies from Limerick who have been selected to take part in Food Works 2018

Other products being developed include a new range of lager-style beers and sheep milk products – including yoghurt, ice-cream and sheep milk powder.

Speaking on behalf of the Food Works programme, Eileen Bentley from Bord Bia said: “The companies who have been selected to take part in Food Works 2018 have all demonstrated a strong product concept, or have already developed a product which meets a genuine market need.

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Leonie Lynch, Juspy; Shane Ryan, FEED; and Aileen Cox-Blundell, Veggie Heroes

“Bord Bia, Enterprise Ireland and Teagasc will work closely with each of these companies to provide the support they need to move to the next level in terms of product development, preparation of an investor-ready business plan and ultimately scaling up for the export market.

We are delighted to note that five years after launching Food Works, more than a third of the companies we have worked with are already exporting around the world – while many more are well on the way to achieving their export potential.

The companies selected to take part in Food Works 2018 include:

  1. Caveman Grub, Galway: Jac Keady founded Caveman Grub in Connemara, Co. Galway in 2015 and already has products stocked in a number of supermarkets and health shops around the country. Caveman Grub produces a range of luxury health food which are free from grains, gluten, dairy and sugar and has already secured several food industry awards.
  2. Crosse Family Foods, Tipperary: Brothers, Michael and Brendan Crosse from Cashel, Co. Tipperary are proven sheep milk producers, currently supplying a number of artisan farmhouse cheese-makers around Ireland. They founded Crosse Family Foods in 2016 in order to bring high value, innovative sheep milk products – including sheep milk powder, ice-cream and yoghurt – to both domestic and export markets.
  3. FEED, Dublin: In 2016 Shane Ryan from Limerick city founded FEED, which creates a range of meals designed to eliminate mindless snacking by keeping you fuller for longer. FEED’s 4-minute plant-based meal pots are currently available in retailers across Ireland, including SuperValu and Dunnes Stores – with the company donating a meal to a child in the developing world for every pot sold.
  4. Juspy, Limerick: Founded by Leonie Lynch from Caherconlish in Limerick in 2016, Juspy is developing a range of nutritious products to support women at different life stages. Its first product, Juspy Momme, is a readymade postnatal drink for the new mother who is tired, stressed and trying to re-establish a good relationship with her body. The product is due to launch in March 2018.
  5. Just Add… Dublin: Just Add… was founded in 2016 by husband and wife team Patricia D’Arcy from Dublin and John Callan originally from Boyle, Co. Roscommon. Just Add… is a healthy, versatile, pot of goodness packed full of sauteed fresh veggies which compliments pasta and eggs to make a delicious meal in minutes. Just Add… is currently stocked in a number of retailers around the Dublin and Wicklow area including in the food academy section of SuperValu.
  6. Larkins Brewing Company, Wicklow: Larkins Brewing Company is a new micro-brewery founded by Cillian Fahey and his family in Co. Wicklow. Larkins is developing a new range of beers, currently with a strong focus on lager, from a production facility in Kilcoole – with a single batch capacity of approximately 3,300L and 10 fermentation tanks.
  7.  Origin Clean Protein Bars, Kerry: Origin Clean Protein Bars was founded by Niall Harty in 2017 out of a frustration with the over-processed protein bars filled with poor ingredients and artificial sweeteners. Origin is a range of 100% natural high-fibre protein bars, which are nutritionally developed with a plant-based prebiotic fibre – which ensures slow-release energy. Origin is manufactured in a purpose-built production facility in Farranfore, Co. Kerry; it is currently upscaling production capacity to meet market demand in both domestic and international markets
  8. Veggie Heroes, Dublin: Veggie Heroes was founded in Swords, Co. Dublin by Aileen Cox-Blundell who is originally from Multyfarnham, Co. Westmeath. The development of Veggie Heroes has followed Aileen’s success with ‘Baby Led Feeding’, a popular recipe blog and book. Veggie Heroes is currently developing a range of chilled vegetable bites for children in order to make healthy eating convenient and accessible for all.
  9. Wellnice Foods, Limerick: Wellnice Foods was founded by nutritionist, BJ Broderick from Tournafulla, west Limerick and engineer, Trin O’Brien from Limerick city. Their first product, Wellnice Pops is a range of healthy ice pops made exclusively from cold-pressed vegetable and fruit juice. Wellnice Pops are currently stocked in a number of independent health food shops around the country and speciality stores including Fresh and Mortons in Dublin and Urban Co-Op Limerick.

Since 2012, Food Works has worked with 76 start-ups to develop scalable and export focused business ideas.

The success of the programme to date includes:
  • One in three have already achieved export success;
  • €1.5 million was generated in export sales in 2016 alone;
  • Global markets span four continents: Europe, Africa, Asia and North America;
  • Over €2 million in funding from Enterprise Ireland has been secured.

For further information on Food Works, those interested can visit the programme’s website.

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Brothers Michael and Brendan Crosse from Crosse Family Foods