Wednesday 12 December 2018

Poitin marmalade? Hector meets the maker

To celebrate five years of SuperValu’s Food Academy in partnership with Bord Bia and the Local Enterprise Offices, Hector travelled cross-country to meet some of the inspiring Irish producers who have taken part in the programme.

Think marmalade, and chances are you’ll think wholesome; something to accompany toast and a cup of tea for a comforting start to the day. In Newceston, County Cork, Hector met Betty Smith, the maker of A Taste of Irish Spirit. Betty’s marmalade certainly has flavour in spades, and is delicious on toast- but it also has something a little bit different.

Betty’s journey to becoming an award-winning food producer happened somewhat by chance. After her beloved pet dog fell ill and she was faced with a hefty vet bill, she looked for a way to increase her income.

“I needed to pay a large vet bill but had no cash for it, so looked for ideas. We had a bottle of poitin in the house (bought in Killarney, legally) and as I'm no cook decided to use a small tin of orange pulp to make poitin flavoured marmalade.”

After her initial foray into the world of marmalade making, she knew she needed some help when it came to running a small business.

“The local LEO were running courses on Starting Your Own Business and Starting Your Own Food Business, dealing with the finances and other operational tasks. I did all of them and registered A Taste of Irish Spirit in July 2012.”

Poitin pairs beautifully with the bittersweet flavours of traditional marmalade and Betty’s unique creation was a hit, although she did face an early hurdle when it came to her recipe. Relying on her own intuition, she hadn’t followed any measurements and spent some time perfecting her quantities. Since then, she has hit on the perfect combination of flavours and has gone on to win multiple awards.

A Taste of Irish Spirit marmalade is all produced by Betty from her base in Newceston and the business couldn’t be more independently run, with the bottling, labelling and boxing done on site. She even makes deliveries herself in her own car.

Since taking part in the Food Academy, A Taste of Irish Spirit has been given the opportunity to grow with increased exposure from taking part in the programme.

“The Food Academy course led my product into SuperValu stores and the marmalade has gone from strength to strength - the highlight (so far!) was winning the overall prize in the Cork and Kerry Food Forum in June 2015.”

 “I’m so proud to see it on the shelf. From my kitchen, to my local SuperValu- isn’t that just brilliant?”

Since the programme began in 2013, Food Academy producers, supported by their local Enterprise Offices, have sold €78 million worth of produce in SuperValu stores and the 329 suppliers involved have grown to provide approximately 1,500 jobs.

Share your Food Academy experience with @SuperValuIRL #foodacademy

Sponsored by: SuperValu

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