Sunday 17 November 2019

Bord Bia Awards 2019

Tara McCarthy
Tara McCarthy

Tara McCarthy introduces the first of Bord Bia’s Food & Drink Award nominees.

Today Bord Bia announces the shortlist for the 2019 Food and Drink Awards. Two categories, Consumer Insight and Domestic Success, are showcased here, with a further six to follow in the run-up to the Awards Ceremony on November 27.

The Food and Drink Awards provide a valuable opportunity to acknowledge the drive and commitment that are the hallmarks of the Irish food and drink sector. Held biennially, some 29 companies and individuals have been shortlisted for these awards which celebrate success in our largest indigenous industry.

Bord Bia’s role is to support Irish companies so they can be at their best, bringing Ireland’s outstanding food, drink and horticulture produce to the world. Despite the challenging economic and trading conditions of the past two years, those shortlisted have continued to thrive. They have demonstrated excellence in their use of marketing principles and consumer insight and are an example of best practice which both new and emerging businesses can aspire to.

The companies, which represent some of the most ambitious and forward-looking in the food and drink sector, have been shortlisted across a range of categories including Brand Marketing, Consumer Insight, Sustainability, Export Growth and Domestic Success.

It goes without saying that our industry would not be the success that it is without the dedicated people and teams who make it so. This year two new categories, Diversity & Inclusion and Future Leader, have been introduced to recognise the sector’s commitment to ensuring the next generation of talent joins us in the years to come.

Seven independent judges with extensive experience in business, global markets, marketing, and sustainability have reviewed each category. I want to congratulate all companies selected and wish them the very best of luck at the awards ceremony on November 27.

The full shortlist for the Bord Bia Food & Drink Awards can be found at

#BordBiaAwards @BordBia

Consumer Insight Award


Companies shortlisted in this category have demonstrated how market research and the identification of consumer insight has led to an improved or new understanding of the consumer, resulting in a unique business opportunity. Shortlisted companies have developed new markets or channels, launched a new product range or packaging reformulation, or implemented new marketing communications strategies and campaigns that have led to an improved brand performance.

Glenilen Farm


Avril Twomey, Marketing Manager, Glenilen Farm

Glenilen Farm is a family-run business operated by husband and wife, Alan and Valerie Kingston, since 1997 on their dairy farm in Drimoleague, West Cork. The company produces yoghurt, cheesecakes and country butter, along with other high-quality dairy products using grass-fed milk from neighbouring cows.

Today, Glenilen Farm is a flourishing business, owning one of the leading yoghurt brands in Ireland and is stocked in Tesco, Dunnes Stores and SuperValu. The company also exports 20% of its output to the UK where it is sold in Waitrose and Sainsbury’s, while holding true to its ethos for great-tasting dairy products using a few simple ingredients.

In 2018, the Bord Bia Brand Health Check revealed key learnings about the brand and its consumer base. At this time, Glenilen Farm was sharing space in a category where more functional-led protein and Greek-style yoghurt was emerging as a significant trend, while sales of fat-free, dairy-free and cholesterol-based yoghurts continued to grow.

The company instigated a research project in order to gain further insights into their consumer and yoghurt consumers. Together with Spark Research, they carried out consumer focus groups along with quantitative research in the form of an online survey.

The research identified four actions required from the brand:
1) Brave marketing activation
2) Brave design
3) Brave innovation and
4) Brave pricing initiatives.

From this, the company’s new proposition formed the basis of a packaging refresh project; the roll-out of a price increase to bring the brand in line with the market; the launch of a community marketing initiative with ALONE; and the launch of a new kids’ product ‘Live Yogi’ in March 2019.


Peter Corcoran, CEO, MBio

MBio is the innovation arm of Monaghan Mushrooms, one of the largest mushroom suppliers in the world. The MBio team has successfully developed for Monaghan Mushrooms a series of world firsts in the area of nutrient enriched fresh mushrooms, including Vitamin D, combination Vitamin D and B12 and most recently combination Vitamin D and Selenium.

MBio now comprises a team of over 50 with one common goal – to harness the power of mushrooms for consumers’ health and wellbeing. MBio has developed a Vegan Vitamin D ingredient in powder format to respond to a global Vitamin D deficiency which is now reported to be at pandemic levels.

Through analysis of products already launched, MBio identified that the market is dominated by animal and synthetic forms of Vitamin D. Bord Bia Consumer Insights studies, ‘What Does Clean Mean?’ and the ‘Functional Food and Beverage Innovation Playbook’, confirmed that consumers are looking for natural whole food sources of nutrition. MBio tested product fit and relevance through engagement with potential B2B customers and distributors in the food, beverage and nutraceutical market segments.

MBio’s first product is the Vitamin D Mushroom Powder, a vegan whole food combining a range of nutritional and functional benefits for food, drink and nutraceutical producers. The combination of market analysis and consumer insight has provided MBio with the confidence to build a team to bring the product to market and to invest in the construction of MBio’s first ingredient production facility in Monaghan, where the Vegan Vitamin D and also a Whole Mushroom Powder will be produced. MBio has already commenced a soft product launch at Food Ingredients Asia and a full launch is planned for Food Ingredients Europe in December.


Adrian Lawlor, Marketing & Business Development Director, Kepak

Kepak Group is a family-owned meat and consumer food company that has grown and innovated exponentially from its origins in 1966 as Keating’s butcher’s shop on Dublin’s Francis Street. Kepak is now a global business with a turnover of €1.5 billion, 5,000 employees and exports representing 80% of its business. Kepak markets fresh and value-added meat products to the food service and retail sectors with its leading brands Rustlers, Big Al’s, Celtic Beef, Wild Atlantic Lamb, John Stone dry-aged meats, McCarren Hampshire pork and Walsh’s Original Spice Burgers.

To meet the business’s ambitious targets and future-proof its brands in a changing consumer world, Kepak embarked on a research project into brand potential within the micro-snacking category. A 10-day online panel of 20 consumers, along with a 15-20-minute online interview with 1,500 participants, revealed an untapped opportunity for breakfast as an occasion for micro-snacking, particularly among 18-35-year-olds who look for quick, tasty and filling on-the-go snack solutions. An in-depth quick service restaurant audit explored what products had the most appeal at breakfast and a new product development funnel culminated in the creation of the Rustlers All Day Breakfast Sausage Muffin. Subsequent product research showed high appeal for the concept, above par category performance and a high level of purchase intent at the retail price of £1.50 (€1.75).

Kepak launched the product in January 2018 in the UK’s leading convenience store chain Co-op, quickly followed by a full market roll-out. It achieved national distribution in the Irish market by June 2019 and was also launched with leading retailers in the Dutch, Belgian and German markets in Quarter 2 2019. The product has since generated considerable commercial success for Kepak, accounting for 9% of sales of the Rustlers brand. This is significant as the Rustlers brand has retail sales of just over £100 million in the UK and northern EU markets.

Domestic Success Award


The Domestic Success category recognises Irish food and drink companies who have achieved substantial growth in the Irish market over the past two years. Shortlisted companies have demonstrated comprehensive domestic marketing planning, an in-depth understanding of the key trends impacting Irish consumers and the effective use of resources in growing their business share in the Irish market.


Emma Walls, Commercial Director, Glenisk

Glenisk is Ireland’s largest manufacturer of branded yogurt which it produces, along with premium Irish milk, at its plant outside Tullamore, Co Offaly. Glenisk became the first indigenous producer to launch a new high-protein yogurt range — Authentic Strained Greek Style — in 2016 to leverage the growing consumer demand for high-protein products.

Informed by research from Bord Bia’s The Thinking House which showed that 67% of consumers rated buying Irish as either ‘very important’ or ‘fairly important’ and the fact that 70% of yogurts purchased in Ireland are imported, Glenisk saw an opportunity to highlight and celebrate its unique Irish recipe. This prompted the company to rebrand the already successful range as ‘Irish Strained Protein Yogurt’ in 2018 and build a campaign that celebrated Irishness, along with the unique value of the grass-fed, superior quality, Irish milk that it uses in its 100% natural product.

Supporting the launch of the new protein range, Glenisk secured a partnership with the IRFU as the Official Yogurt of Irish Rugby. This partnership provided add-on opportunities for new packaging, social media content and other communications around the campaign.

In order to reinforce that this product was a new look, not a new recipe, a series of motion graphics were created to clearly show the ‘Was’ (Authentic Strained Greek Style) and ‘Now’ (Irish Strained Protein Yogurt) pots. The campaign resulted in a 300,000 increase in unit sales year-on-year (6%), an incredibly positive result in a crowded market. This year, Glenisk also became the number one yogurt brand in Ireland — another first for the brand.

Keelings Select

Matthew Carrick, Aisling Boggan, Colm Bury, and Cormac Dunlea of Keelings Select

Keelings Select is a leading producers food-service company which delivers fresh produce and dairy to more than 1,000 customers every day. Since its roll-out in January 2017, with a staff of three and one delivery van in Smithfield Market, the company today has 125 employees and a fleet of 40 delivery vans and trucks. Keelings Select now operates from a bespoke, newly built facility on Keelings’ farm just beyond the northern fringes of the M50 and supplies a choice of 1,200 quality food products, from fresh and prepared fruit and vegetables, dairy products and eggs to the hospitality sector.

The latest technologies for warehousing, business information systems, electronic data interchange and transport modules with live traffic information gives the company a competitive edge.

At the heart of the Keelings Select business is quality produce, and partnering with suppliers and customers that share the same values around quality, taste and provenance.

Its new location has a dedicated onsite kitchen for customers, which enables Keelings Select to work directly with chefs on new menus and products, underlining its positioning as a food business rather than a logistics company. With a footprint of 120,000 sq ft, of which it currently occupies 70,000, the potential for significant future expansion is another important element of the company’s ongoing strategy to grow market share. Keelings Select experienced a 114% increase in sales in 2018 and expects an annual sales growth of 56% in 2019.

Kepak Foodservice

Kepak Foodservice.jpg
Kellymarie Gleeson, Trade Marketing Manager and Petya Kalinkova, Digital Marketing Manager, Kepak

As the dedicated food-service business of the Kepak Group, Kepak Foodservice provides a choice of more than 100 products to quick service restaurants, food-to-go providers, coffee shops, pubs, hotels and education facilities among others. It works with 32 distributors on the island of Ireland who promote and deliver its products such as beef burgers, chicken products, added value red meat meal solutions, sauces and bread. With the Foodservice market set to grow at a rate of 4.4% over the next three years in Ireland, the company is focused on securing its current business whilst growing in new and existing channels.

In order to do this, Kepak Foodservice launched a new range of products specifically for pubs along with a new online Food Alliance customer loyalty scheme. Food Alliance is a unique initiative which helps promote excellence in the food-service industry by incentivising its customers to avail of rewards that in return will help support their work and businesses.

More than 2,000 customers have already engaged with this first-of-its-kind B2B rewards programme, which sees customers earn points for buying products, undertaking training courses, or engaging in surveys.

Food Alliance is helping to position Kepak Foodservice as a forward-thinking operator. In its first year (2018), the programme succeeded in recruiting 1,800 members and in 2019 has driven an estimated revenue growth for the business of €1.1 million. The company is planning to drive recruitment of the loyalty programme to 2,500 foodservice members in 2020 and achieve revenue growth of €1.2million.

Rye River Brewing Company                                

Rye River.jpg
Tom Cronin, Founder and Managing Director, Rye River Brewing Company

Rye River has grown to become Ireland’s largest independent craft brewery since its establishment in late 2013 in Celbridge, Co Kildare. It now employs 45 staff and occupies the number one craft beer position in the Irish retail market. Rye River produces a range of 30 award-winning craft beers including the McGargles brand, which is Ireland’s fastest growing domestic craft brand. The company currently exports to 25 countries and is set to add a sixth brand to its portfolio in 2020.

New product development is a key part of Rye River’s growth strategy and in 2018 the company launched the Rye River Seasonal brand — it’s first brewery-led label — which is small batch, specialist craft beer aimed at beer connoisseurs. To date, it has released seven beers under the Rye River Seasonal brand and each release generates growing hype and anticipation in the domestic craft beer scene.

Social media plays an important role in the company’s brand development, with its content strategy pivoting on witty and engaging posts, along with responsive follower engagement. The company’s loyal fan base was central to the success of a full-to-capacity Rye River Rising event held at its brewery as part of its fifth birthday celebrations. The event can be credited for a major growth in sales in the Kildare region.

Rye River has experienced year on year growth of 850% since 2014 and the forecast for 2019 is continued growth of 17% on 2018. The company plans to increase domestic sales by focusing on brewery-led brands in 2020 and has a long-term goal to become the volume leader craft beer brand in Ireland.

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