Irish exiles in Britain and other lovers of good food have been snapping up original Irish bacon ketchup and smoked bacon jam from a small producer in Fermanagh.
Enniskillen-based Erne Larder Preserves, a Food NI member, has enjoyed a five-fold growth in sales of its Irish bacon products to established and new customers especially in Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland over the past three months. The ketchup and jams are made from locally sourced dry cured bacon.
The artisan business, which is run by chef Declan O’Donoghue, has racked up significant sales from a website developed during the lockdown and also from a listing by the specialist Artisan Food Club (AFC) in Britain.
Mr O’Donoghue says: “The past three months have been extremely difficult because many of our customers in the hospitality sector have been closed and some of the leading delis and independent grocers which we also supply have been operating only limited hours. Furthermore, the food markets which generated cash for us were also closed.
“What really made the difference for us was the investment in our website to sell our products and also the inclusion of our products, especially the Irish bacon jam and ketchup, on the successful AFC website. These were two game changers for my small company during what was a very tough time for us and many other smaller food processors here. It’s been a tremendous relief to see some cash flowing again,” he adds.
Listing by AFC last year was the Fermanagh company’s first significant business in Britain. It has subsequently gained its first European sales, in Belgium. Erne Larder has also won business from Lidl Ireland and Aldi Ireland.
“Our complete range of products is now listed for delis and smaller retailers in Britain especially our Irish bacon ketchup, the only product of its type being produced in both Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic,” adds Mr O’Donoghue.
He’s looking forward to the reopening of bars, hotels, cafes and restaurants with the lifting of the lockdown and grocery stores getting back to full working hours. “It’s been a long haul and it will take time to recover business halted by the lockdown,” he adds.
He established Erne Larder Preserves in 2016 to develop a range of sauces and jams based on his own experiences as a chef in hotel and restaurant kitchens over many years. His first product was the unique Irish bacon jam.
All Erne Larder products jams are based on recipes created by Mr O’Donoghue.