The achievements of eight Irish food companies were recognised at the Bord Bia Food and Drink Awards in Dublin’s Mansion House tonight. The Awards, held every two years, reward excellence within the Irish food and drink industry across eight categories – Branding, Consumer Insight, Digital Marketing, Entrepreneurship, Exporting, Innovation, Success at Home and Sustainability. Over 300 industry representatives from Ireland’s leading food and drink companies gathered for the ceremony, where they also heard from guest speaker, Joe Schmidt, the Irish Rugby Team’s Head Coach who provided his insight into leadership and teamwork.
Opening the event, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Mr. Simon Coveney T.D. said, “I am delighted to be here this evening at the ‘Oscars’ of the sector as we take pride in the exceptional achievements of our food and drink companies. Last year’s record €10.5 billion in exports follows five years of sustained growth by the sector, which is now well positioned as it seeks to expand towards its €19 billion export goal set in Food Wise 2025. He added, “As the industry continues to develop premium positions in established markets, significant progress is also being made in opening up new markets that can help sustain its growth. I am deeply conscious that business is not easily won and Irish food and drink companies are to be commended for their success and determination in developing Ireland’s largest indigenous industry.
In congratulating the winners, Aidan Cotter, Chief Executive, Bord Bia said “As the industry seeks to grow output and expand its export reach, it is important to recognise the achievements and ongoing progress of the sector, which are underpinning growth and competitiveness and elevating the industry’s reputation at home and abroad. The awards highlight the talent, imagination and sheer professionalism that is at the heart of the industry’s current success and that will secure its continued growth and expansion.
This year, Bord Bia received in excess of 160 award entries across the eight categories which were judged by an independent judging panel (see Notes to Editor for details). Gallagher’s Bakery was honoured with two awards while two companies received Sustainability Awards reflecting the high calibre of entries. The overall category award winners included: (See Notes to Editor for full profiles)
Export and Entrepreneurial Awards – Gallagher’s Bakery was honoured in both the Export and Entrepreneurial categories, for what the judges described as a “stunning success story and turnaround demonstrating great credibility and huge ambition”. Gallagher’s Bakery, established in 1968 as a family run business in Ardara, Co. Donegal, traditionally serviced the North West region with conventional bakery products, until 2012 when they entered the gluten free market having identified the scale of opportunity. The company now employs 260 people, up from 95 in 2012, with employment expected to continue to grow further. Export growth has been steep, now accounting for more than 70% of turnover, while the compnay successfully trades with some of the biggest retailers in the world.
Innovation Award – Nobó, founded by Brian and Rachel Nolan, has produced the world’s first dairy free alternative to ice cream made from avocado and coconut milk. The brand name ’Nobó’, meaning no cow, has played a clever role in communicating the Irishness and dairy free approach. The judges highlighted the “strong vision for future development” noting that the product has already successfully grown with retail and foodservice listings nationwide and they are exporting to Dubai and about to expand into the UK market.
Success at Home Award – Celtic Pure, a family owned company established in 2000 by the McEneaneys, has grown to sell over 40 million bottles of Irish spring water. Over the past eight years, the lowest percentage increase on sales year on year was 15%. Last year, the company invested over €3m in a new bottling line that increased the production capacity to 100 million bottles per annum. The company, which the judges deemed a “great Irish success story”, has also built a strong management team which the judges stated was crucial to the company’s success.
Branding Award – Glanbia’s Avonmore SuperMilk, Ireland’s leading milk brand, outperformed overall milk sales by as much as 6.3% in volume terms in a sector with declining sales, and consumer brand awareness and loyalty increased across the board. The campaign, called “Playground of Life”, was based on insight that consumers are increasingly concerned about the lack of vitamin D in the diet and posing Super Milk as the solution.
Digital Marketing Award – Britvic Ireland’s Club Orange #thebestbits campaign was created to tap into themes of Irishness, nostalgia and colloquial humour. The campaign reached over 5.3 million influencers through online and PR mentions, while over 350,000 consumers viewed the video content on Facebook and YouTube. Club Orange sales increased by close to 10% compared to the previous year. The judges remarked on the low budget utilised compared to the results achieved, as well as on their innovative use of crowd sourcing to develop concepts from loyal Club Orange fans.
Consumer Insight Award – Glenisk used consumer insight to develop their new range of high protein, authentically strained Greek Yogurt. The judges acknowledged the “huge lengths” Glenisk went to to get a deep understanding of their consumer, in commissioning intensive research over a 12 month period and in engaging with consumers to innovatively ‘co-create’ the new range in a difficult yogurt category. Since its launch in April, it has already delivered a 10% increase in revenue for Glenisk.
Sustainability Award Boasts Competitive Edge
Due to the competitive nature of the category, the high calibre of entries and the strategic importance of Origin Green, Bord Bia’s sustainability programme, the judges deemed it appropriate to recognise the efforts of two companies. Aidan Cotter stated, “In a week when Bord Bia hosted its inaugural Global Sustainability Forum and released its first Origin Green report, it is encouraging to note the importance placed on sustainability by food and drink producers, with over a quarter of the total entries received for this award. This is also evident in the fact that, over 85% of total Irish food and drink exports are now coming from companies that are fully verified members of Origin Green. Sustainability is an established driver for the industry in terms of how it conducts business, and Origin Green has provided a renewed sense of purpose of how we can be different and still make a difference in a challenging marketplace.”
The judges recognised Glanbia Ingredients Ireland, Ireland’s leading dairy company, processing 1.8 billion litres of milk annually into a range of ingredients for export to over 60 countries, for their outstanding achievements in this area. As a founding member of Origin Green, GII is committed to auditing its entire milk supply base to establish a baseline under a number of sustainability indicators by 2016. Their ambition is to reduce carbon emissions by 10% by 2020, zero waste to landfill by 2015 and a 25% reduction in water abstraction by 2020. The judges felt Glanbia Ingredients Ireland was “in a league of its own, with a great story to tell, while the integrity of the business plan was very impressive”.
Island Seafoods Ltd is a family owned and run business, which was established in 1986 in the popular fishing village of Killybegs. Both the quantity and quality of sustainability undertakings surprised the judges for a company of its size. They were also impressed by the level of innovation in driving sustainability within their business. For instance, new technology has given them the ability to track the kWh consumed per tonne of fish processed. As part of their Origin Green sustainability plan, they are working to reduce the overall operational electricity usage and water consumption for cooling and cleaning by 15% by 2016. In addition, there is a comprehensive plan in place in terms of food waste, renewable energy, cold store lighting and social sustainability.
The judging panel included John Fanning, Chairman, Bord Bia’s Brand Forum, Dr. Gordon R. Campbell Managing Director,SPAR International, David Cotter, Country Manager, Procter & Gamble Ireland, Martina McDonnell, Head of SMB Marketing, EMEA, Facebook, Joe Ballantyne, Associate Director, The Futures Company, Gary Flynn, Director, UK & Ireland Large Customer Service, Google, Martin Chilcott, Founder and CEO, 2degrees, Matt Dempsey, Chairman, The Agricultural Trust, Helen King, Director Consumer Insight, Bord Bia and Heather Ann McSharry, Former Managing Director, Reckitt Benckiser Ireland.
Overall Category Winners – Company Profiles
Branding Award Winner: Glanbia, Avonmore Super Milk
Glanbia is a leading performance nutrition and ingredients group, employing over 5,800 people in 34 countries. Headquartered in Kilkenny, Glanbia has leading brands in cheese, cream and liquid milk and its products are sold or distributed in over 130 worldwide. Avonmore Super Milk is its flagship brand and in 2014, Glanbia set out on an aggressive growth strategy. The campaign was based the insight that consumers are increasingly concerned about the lack of vitamin D in the diet and posing Super Milk as the solution would shift the dial in terms of market share.
As Ireland’s leading milk brand, Glanbia sought to strengthen the consumer connection with a new creative campaign called “Playground of Life”. It showed the generations of Irish families growing up, enjoying life and not slowing down at all as they got older. The campaign included TV, outdoor, radio and digital advertising, video on demand content, a new website highlighting the benefits of Vitamin D for all ages, in-store sampling and point of sale marketing. To help educate consumers, Glanbia partnered with relevant online outlets such as mummypages, the journal.ie, joe.ie and her.ie.
As a result, Super Milk sales grew by 4% in a category with declining sales last year (-2% yoy). At retail level, it outperformed overall milk sales by as much as 6.3% in volume terms and overall consumer brand awareness and loyalty increased across the board.
Consumer Insight Award Winner: Glenisk, High Protein Greek Yoghurt
As part of their 2014/2015 business plans, Glenisk set out to grow the declining Fresh Dairy Produce (FDP) category, otherwise known as yogurt, as well as their own market share. They relied heavily on consumer insight to identify a real consumer need, to develop a new product and market it in a way that resonated with consumers.
Ultimately, Glenisk developed a range of high protein, authentically strained Greek Yogurt, a very thick yogurt with a unique texture and a concentration of nutrients – more than twice as much protein as a regular yogurt.
The marketing challenge was to launch the range in April 2015, and to build awareness in the eight week window post-launch. The new range was targeted broadly at those aged 18-44, but more particularly at millennials, and those with a specific interest in fitness and nutrition.
They explored consumer trends, reviewed yogurt markets across the world, analysed food themes and the eating habits of hardcore fitness fans – the new generation of female consumers who aspired to be ‘strong, not skinny’. They commissioned intensive quantitative and qualitative research over a 12 month period and engaged with consumers to ‘co-create’ the range. Members of this exclusive group worked with Glenisk for over 8 months in different capacities, completing on-line surveys, attending focus-groups, conducting in-home tastings, participating in one to one interviews etc. It was a unique approach for Glenisk and the investment of time had paid off. The launch of the range has already delivered a 10% increase in revenue for Glenisk YOY.
Digital Marketing Award Winner: Britvic Ireland for Club Orange #thebestbits campaign
Britvic Ireland is the number two soft drinks company by volume on the island of Ireland. It is owned by Britvic plc, which also has market leading operations in Great Britain and France, and a worldwide presence through Britvic International.
The company have a proud brand history that spans over 240 years. Their powerful portfolio includes Irish brands such as Ballygowan, MiWadi, Club and TK which have been trusted and enjoyed by Irish people for many years. They also have exclusive agreements to make and distribute global brands such as Pepsi, 7UP and Mountain Dew Energy on behalf of PepsiCo.
They have been shortlisted for this award based on the success of its Club Orange #BestBits online campaign. Following consumer research, the campaign was created to tap into themes of Irishness, nostalgia and colloquial humour, all relevant to the Club Orange audience.
Through targeted partnerships with key online influencers, bloggers and vloggers, the #BestBits campaign created highly engaging content at a very low cost. The videos, vines and photos, which focussed on #TheBestBits about Ireland, were seeded out using owned, earned and paid digital channels.
The campaign organically reached over 5.3 million influencers through online / PR mentions, while over 350,000 consumers viewed the video content on Facebook and You Tube. Club Orange sales increased by close to 10% compared to the same period in the previous year.
Entrepreneurial Award Winner: Gallagher’s Bakery, Pure Bred Range
Gallagher’s Bakery was established in 1968 as a family run business in Ardara Co. Donegal. The bakery traditionally serviced the North West region with conventional bakery products, until 2012 when they entered the gluten free bakery market. Today, they export all over the world.
Three years ago, having analysed the traditional bakery market in Ireland and UK, the group concluded the bakery market was in continued decline as consumers moved away from traditional bread for health/lifestyle reasons. In stark contrast they had identified the Gluten Free bakery market as a high growth/high margin category that seemed destined for continued strong growth, across many countries around the world. They were convinced there was an opportunity to offer something better and with the right balance on taste, texture and nutritional values, there was a real opportunity to establish a global brand.
In addition to engaging with Coeliac Associations around the world, they invested in comprehensive global qualitative and quantitative research to understand consumer experience of existing brands. In a series of taste tests, their newly developed gluten free products rated highest and feedback from consumers and retailers alike was unanimously positive. Today, Gallagher’s Bakery successfully trade with the biggest and best retailers in the world.
Export Award Winner: Gallagher’s Bakery, Pure Bred Range
Gallagher’s Bakery was established in 1968 as a family run business in Ardara Co. Donegal. In 2012, they entered the gluten free bakery market and today they export all over the world under the PureBred and Promise Gluten Free brand names. Gallagher’s Bakery successfully trades with some of the biggest and most successful retailers in the world, and everyday consumers right across Canada, USA, Australia, UK and Ireland enjoy gluten free breads and cakes produced from their facility in Ardara Co. Donegal.
Today the company employs 260 people, up from 95 in 2012, with employment expected to continue to grow further, as their brands continue to flourish in overseas markets. Export sales growth has been steep, now accounting for more than 70% of turnover. As Gallaghers Bakery now trades with an ever increasing number of global retailers across both retail and foodservice channels, export growth is forecasted to continue its strong growth for the coming years.
Innovation Award Winner: Nobó
Nobó is a young Dublin based food company dedicated to creating the world’s finest dairy-free, healthy, and supremely delicious foods. Founded by Brian and Rachel Nolan, the company’s first product is Frozen Goodness, an award winning dairy free alternative to ice cream. It is the world’s first ice cream alternative made from avocado and coconut milk and sweetened with pure honey.
To gauge consumer reaction, in 2012, Brian and Rachel spent the summer weekends at Marlay Park and Dun Laoighaire farmers markets. These markets provided the ideal testing grounds and resulted in key consumer feedback on the taste, texture and branding. Nobó also secured a place on the first Food Works programme, where the product was fine-tuned further and put under rigorous testing from a market suitability perspective.
Since then, the product has been successfully grown with retail and foodservice listings nationwide. They are exporting to Dubai and about to expand into the UK market. The brand name ’Nobó’ – meaning No-Cow, has played a role in communicating the Irish-ness and dairy free approach, but in a clever and subtle way.
Success at Home Award Winner: Celtic Pure
Celtic Pure Limited is a family owned company established in 2000 by Padraig and Pauline McEneaney. In the early years, the husband and wife team produced and ran all its operations from their garage, delivering door to door in the evenings. In 2014, the company manufactured and sold over 40 million bottles of Irish spring water from its state of the art 40,000sq ft production facilities.
During its start-up phase, Celtic Pure was confident Irish consumers’ habits had changed considerably towards drinking bottled water on a more regular basis. However, they acknowledged that the only way they could remain competitive in this growing market, was if it manufactured their own bottles. Last year, the company invested over €3m in a new bottling line that increased the production capacity of the overall business to 100 million bottles per annum.
Over the last two years, the company has also built up and recruited a strong management team across production, maintenance, quality, logistics and CRM. Key account managers were assigned to each customer group e.g. foodservice, multiple stores, to support increased customer requirements and individual specifications. While the sales and marketing strategy appears on the face to be very simple, the results indicate it is very effective. Over the past eight years the lowest percentage increase on sales year on year was 15%.
Sustainability Award Winner: Glanbia Ingredients and Island Seafoods
Glanbia Ingredients Ireland
With decades of industry success and expertise, Glanbia Ingredients Ireland (GII) is Ireland’s leading dairy company, annually processing 1.8 billion litres of milk into a range of ingredients for export to more than 60 countries. GII supplies international food and nutrition companies – across a range of sectors from branded cheese and butter through to the infant, sports, clinical and affordable nutrition markets. GII is a 60:40 joint venture between Glanbia Co-op and Glanbia plc.
As a dairy processor of scale, GII has always been focussed on energy consumption and the associated costs. The removal of the dairy quota system in 2015 will open up opportunities for the expansion of dairying in Ireland. In order to seize this opportunity and to sustain our farmers’ businesses into the future, it is GII’s ambition to lead the international field in Sustainable Dairying.
Sustainability targets across its 5 manufacturing plants are delivered as part of the overall environmental objectives and targets, headed up by its Environmental Management team. Meanwhile, the sustainability targets on farm are delivered by the Glanbia Milk Advisory Team who works closely with GII milk suppliers in the areas of quality, environmental and financial best practice.
As part of its Origin Green membership and as a founding member of Origin Green, GII is committed to auditing its entire milk supply base to establish a baseline under a number of sustainability indicators by Q1 2016 as well as driving environmental excellence, reducing energy use, GHGs and water abstraction per tonne of milk processed at manufacturing plant level. GII’s ambition is to reduce carbon emissions by 10% by 2020, zero waste to landfill by 2015 and a 25% reduction in water abstraction by 2020.
Island Seafoods Ltd
Located just outside the popular fishing village of Killybegs, Island Seafoods Ltd is a family owned and run business, established in 1986. Their products range from mackerel, herring, sprat and blue whiting. Inspired by green ethics, the organisation constantly strives to build on the continual process of environmental improvement that has underpinned the business over the last 20 years. Mick O’Donnell, Managing Director, has been responsible and integral in driving the green initiative within the organisation. Earlier this year, Island Seafoods were selected as Green Seafood Business of the Year at the annual Green Awards, in addition to the Overall Green Business of the Year Award.
Sustainability is reflected in all areas of the business from world-class water treatment and waste procedures to advanced energy management techniques. New technology has given Island Seafoods the ability to track the kWh consumed per tonne of fish processed. In this way, energy data has become critical business information for Island Seafoods.
In April 2014, Island Seafoods Ltd. became a verified member of Origin Green, Bord Bia’s sustainability programme for the food and drink industry. Companies are asked to sign up to the Origin Green sustainability charter and set out an action plan with clear targets. As part of the plan, they are working to reduce the overall operational electricity usage, energy consumption of ice machine by 33% by 2016, and water consumption for cooling and cleaning by 15% by 2016. In addition, there is a comprehensive plan in place in terms of food waste, renewable energy, cold store lighting and a number of social sustainability initiatives.