We have teamed up with Tesco Taste Bud to bring you the best new Irish food producers, and tell you all about their products. Today, on Focus Friday we talk to Maxine Hyde daughter of Yasmin Hyde and granddaughter of Myrtle Allen. Maxine will discuss with us today all about Ballymaloe ‘s new product Ballymaloe Beetroot which has just launch across in Tesco stores as part of the Taste Bud programme.
Ballymaloe is an Irish family-run business owned by Yasmin Hyde, daughter of Myrtle and Ivan Allen of Ballymaloe House. Ballymaloe Foods employs a staff of 20 in Cork and produces a range of delicious sauces and relishes using the best quality natural ingredients and no artificial additives. In April, Ballymaloe Country Relish secured one of the largest listings for an Irish company with Tesco which saw the brand’s original country relish stocked in over 900 Tesco UK stores. The original relish was also recently awarded a Gold Star at this year’s Great Taste Awards.
- Can you tell us a bit about your product?
I was just four years old when my mother Yasmin decided to start her own business using my grandmother Myrtle Allen’s tomato relish recipe. By the time I was six, mum had bought a portakabin with a kitchen and put it in the front garden of our house. She worked out there for a few years and we would all be in there with her, sticking on labels and packing the jars into boxes. So from small beginnings Ballymaloe Foods has grown and we now operate from a production facility in Little Island in Cork. A team of 20 work at Ballymaloe Foods including myself and my brother Sean who is based in the US. We produce a range of 12 products including delicious relishes, sauces and dressings using the best quality natural ingredients and no artificial additives. We have just added pickled beetroot to our range which has recently launched in Tesco stores.
- What inspired you to create your product?
My mother Yasmin wanted to bring an Irish made pickled beetroot to shop shelves around the country. By chance, she met a local farmer Joe Hartnett when she was delivering an order to a local supermarket. Joe was delivering some beautiful vegetables and she thought “Well, here’s a man who could grow me some beetroot”. Yasmin mentioned her idea to Joe and this chance encounter led to Joe accepting the challenge and planting 8 acres of beetroot for us. Shortly after, we purchased a large food grade washing machine and installed it on Joe’s farm so that the beetroot could be cleaned before being delivered.
- How has your product evolved since it has launched?
It’s no easy task to cook and pack this vibrant coloured vegetable so each jar is carefully hand filled with the lovely piquant cubes. In place of the usual spirit vinegar Ballymaloe have chosen high quality white wine vinegar for a smoother tasting pickle.
Ballymaloe foods, now produce the beetroot grown by Joe on a weekly basis once the season starts. Joe picks the beetroot and delivers the same day, the following morning, the Ballymaloe team, cook and pack the delicious beets.
- Who is your customer?
Our products are enjoyed by customers of all ages and tastes as they complement a wide range of meals. Our best seller is of course our original Ballymaloe relish but we also produce condiments such as cranberry sauce, Apple sauce, Mint jelly in addition to delicious salad dressings and pasta sauces. Our products are very popular with families as one jar can go a long way and add flavour to simple meals when paired with a baked potato, a sandwich, salad or an omelette.
- What tips would you give to someone who is starting out and wants to launch a food-related product/business?
Although we’re a well-known brand now, the business was definitely slow to start and it’s a credit to mum how the business has grown. I remember her working hard to get the business off the ground and we travelled regularly with her around the country to trade shows encouraging people to sample our products to build awareness. The first time Yas put relish into a cash and carry, the case didn’t sell, it built up dust and she had to replace it, but she wasn’t put off, she had confidence in the product.
From my perspective joining a family food business, I always knew I wanted to work with my mum so I did the Ballymaloe cookery course and I worked in a kitchen for a year. I saved up money for college and then studied business in UCC. While I was in college I worked with a designer on our company website and I would work in production during the summers. I have been working full time in the business since I graduated.
I would recommend that people starting out talk to Bord Bia as they have been a huge support to us and find out about joining retail development programmes like Taste Bud. I participated in the export level of the programme which involved workshops helping us to position our business to export to Tesco stores in the UK which was invaluable to our business. They also offer a local level for businesses that are starting out and want to get their products on the shelves of their local store.
- Where can you buy this product and how much will it cost?
You can buy our range of products in stores nationwide. Ballymaloe Pickled Beetroot 425g jar is available now in Tesco stores at a cost of €3.49.
- What does the future hold for your business?
We’re very proud of our roots in East Cork and we have ambitious plans to bring a taste of East Cork further afield. Hopefully we’ll continue to expand our range at home in Ireland and further abroad. My brother Sean is based in the US now and is tempting American taste buds with our original relish where it’s seen as a ‘gourmet ketchup’.
Ballymaloe Foods is one of the nearly 70 Irish food and drink producers that have participated in the Tesco Taste Bud programme in partnership with Bord Bia. To date, Taste Bud producers have recorded over €30 million worth of sales in Tesco stores, with nearly a quarter of this revenue generated in the UK, highlighting the export opportunities realised through the programme.
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