The Following article was written by Elaine O’Regan, Sunday Business Post, August 30th 2015
Thank you Elaine:
A 13 year career in the bacon industry, working in quality assurance, gave Pat O’Neill a running start when he decided to start up his own company with wife Mary a decade ago.
Based in Wexford, O’Neills Dry Cure Bacon Co. is going from strength to strength and, last year, the couple invested €250,000 in the expansion of their Enniscorthy factory, prompted by growing sales.
O’Neill originally came up with the idea for the venture over – a less than satisfactory – breakfast.
“One morning I was frying up normal rashers for breakfast and when I went back to the pan I felt like shouting ‘who took my rashers?’ They had shrunk to about half their original size” said O’Neill.
Spotting a potential gap in the market for a better kind of bacon, O’Neill decided to set up his own dry curing business.
“There was a growing trend towards natural foods and consumers were becoming more interested in the ingredients, source and quality of their food.” he said.
O’Neill uses Irish pork and a traditional dry curing process without water or phosphates.
There are five dry cured products in the O’Neills range, including rashers, streaky rashers, ham fillets and bacon loins and steaks. The company also has pork sausages and black and white pudding.
“We have our greatest distribution in the south east of the country and in Dublin.” Said O’Neill.
“We’re part of the SuperValu Food Academy Programme, so we’ve grown our distribution significantly across the SuperValu stores in the last few months, and our range is available throughout Leinster and in some stores in Munster and rest of Ireland”
The O’Neills have just commenced central distribution with SuperValuu and have launched bacon jam in a selection of “tester” stores.
“We are working on developing lardons (as strip of pork fat used for flavouring in cooking)” said O’Neill who started out selling dry cure rasher at local food markets in Enniscorthy, Gorey and Wexford.
“I learnt just how valuable it is to really listen to customers, so we still sell at the markets because I think it’s invaluable to get the direct feedback” he said.
The O’Neills invested in new packaging three years ago to keep the brand “fresh”.
“We decided to refresh our brand three years ago and as a result we updated our packaging” said O’Neill. Our category is very busy, so the main objective was to stand out on shelf while still communicating our key selling points.
“It was a hugely valuable exercise, which brought our brand to a new level, because consumers can immediately recognise it in the chilled section.”