Irish snack business wins Blas na hEireann innovation award

A Monaghan farmer who set up his own agri-food business this year, Rucksnacks, has won the Blas na hEireann Best UCC Packaging Innovation Award.

Rucksnacks, a 100% dried Irish beef snack, was developed by Monaghan farmer Colm Connolly when he returned home from travelling in June 2015 and was left frustrated by the lack of healthy snack options.

The young entrepreneur, who is a fifth generation farmer from Clones, Co. Monaghan, was delighted to pick up the national award at the ceremony in Dingle, Co. Kerry.

We spent months getting our packaging right as it’s critical that our snacks reach our customers in the best condition.

“We also wanted our packaging to be visually appealing to new customers as well as including the important information, like that we only use seven natural ingredients,” the 29-year-old said.

Connolly launched his Irish snack company in July of this year, with products available online and in selected SuperValu stores in Monaghan.

Artie Clifford, Chairman, Colm Connolly, Monaghan, Cracked Blask Pepper, Joe Kerry, UCC and Minister Michael Creed
Artie Clifford, Chairman, Colm Connolly, Monaghan, Joe Kerry, UCC and Minister Michael Creed

Connolly studied Mechanical Engineering at Queen’s University, Belfast before working abroad for a few years.

After returning home and taking over the family farm, the keen sports player was frustrated by the lack of healthy and convenient snacks.

Travelling was an amazing experience but I always knew I’d come home here to the farm and live in Ireland where I have always enjoyed farming and continue on what has been a family tradition.

“That’s when I got the idea for Rucksnacks – a grass-fed beef jerky snack with only 89 calories per serving.

“With no added sugar, no gluten and no allergens – it is quality Irish food that ticks a lot of health boxes as a high protein snack,” he said.

The long term plan for the business is to use beef from the family farm in the product and to move into a new facility, with the local Enterprise Center in Monaghan being very supportive of the new business, he said.