Sunday 22 July 2018

Queally to take bite of the European baby food market

Pip & Pear owner Irene Queally is close to signing contracts in Germany and the Netherlands
Pip & Pear owner Irene Queally is close to signing contracts in Germany and the Netherlands
Samantha McCaughren

Samantha McCaughren

Chilled baby food business Pip & Pear is proving popular with busy parents who have a few bob in their pockets.

The Irish range has gone nationwide with Tesco in recent weeks and is also available to Tesco online shoppers. But an even bigger bite of the baby food market awaits, with owner Irene Queally close to signing deals with chains in Germany and the Netherlands. "That should double, if not triple, our business," she told me last week.

Queally has an excellent pedigree in the food business herself, being a daughter of Peter Queally, who co-founded Dawn Meats along with his brother John and Dan Browne. She and her husband Bill Fitzgerald also own No 9 Barronstrand Street, a restaurant in Waterford.

Queally got the idea for Pip & Pear after she had her second child and could not find healthy, fresh baby food. She began making batches of the food in the restaurant kitchen when it was closed in the evenings, and put her recipes on the menu for young diners.

Timing was everything, Queally says looking back at the 2015 retail launch. "With the economy picking up, I think the timing was right, there was an extra little bit in people's pockets so they could consider buying a little bit more.

"When I started cooking batches in the restaurant trialling the idea I was selling about 150 units a month now we are selling just shy of 15,000 units a week - it's exciting," she added.

Getting stocked in the likes of SuperValu and now 114 Tesco shops has been the biggest breakthrough for Pip & Pear.

But she is no looking further afield. "The big thing for us now is going to be export. We had to prove this new category could exist and that people want it. People have tried is before and it hasn't worked but I think people's expectations are higher now.

"So now we've been able to show that there is demand, it's of interest to foreign markets."

Queally said that she had a 'bit of a panic' a year ago as she thought she should diversify, but has since decided to remain focused on the successful products she has produced from the start. So the babies of Germany and the Netherlands can look forward to the likes of Fishy Dishy and Lovely Lentils from 2019.

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