Import Substitutions – Producing Results

Import Substitution -
Producing Irish Food Results

byGood Food Ireland® Team

Issue: January / February
Date: 01/01/2021

Irish Produce can be held up to the world

Ireland sits on the edge of Europe and with the Brexit deal finally done , we are beginning the journey into a new dawn of commerce and trade. Hauliers will now avoid the traditional land bridge across the UK in order to avoid delays at customs both entering and exiting the UK. This will add precious time onto already long journeys from Europe for all types of fresh vegetables and fruit. Therefore anything that can be grown here on our island should be welcomed and indeed encouraged and celebrated.

Keep your business in your town and your town in business.

So often people forget to even ask where their food comes from and if what they are picking up in a grocery store is actually Irish grown or just packed in Ireland. There is a significant move within Food Service to declare anything and everything that is Irish onto menus and rightly so! Our food in Ireland is World Class and we ourselves and the millions of visitors arriving each year , should be told of the integrity around every morsel that’s an Irish ingredient that reaches our lips.

Happily there are commercial reasons along with the massive sustainability incentives to choose Irish produce over imports, lets look at few success stories ;

Donnacha Donnelly and Iona Farms based outside Dublin have created a beautiful business delivering Irish baby vegetables to the top chefs and retail stores in Ireland. Baby veg was imported from France and Italy and South Africa in the shoulder season , Iona farms baby veg range include ; Baby Parsnip , Baby Fennell , Baby Courgettes , Baby Carrots , Baby Rainbow Carrots , Baby Turnips , Baby Beetroots and the range is growing ( excuse the pun ) with Nettles , Wild Garlic.

Stephen McCormack and McCormack Family Farms are a wonderful family business that is based in Co Meath. Stephen pivoted the business towards fresh leaves and now they grow in the Irish season an incredible 1.2 million kg of mixed of Baby Leaves , Fresh Rocket , Baby Spinach , Mizuna & Mustard Frills. The import substitution also on Micro Herbs is fantastic , especially on Pea shoots and Micro Greens like Micro Basil , Coriander , Rocket and Fennell.

Joe O’Gorman based in Laois has a small farm growing Irish Organic Exotic Mushrooms. These mushrooms are grown in a wood based substrate and include King Oyster , Shitake , Grey Oyster , Golden Oyster , Pink Oyster , Lions Mane , and the range is expanding. No need to buy Exotic Mushrooms anywhere else now.

John Stafford in Wexford based Slaney Farms has created a baby potato to rival any imported French or English Baby potato. The skin finish is clean and bright with perfect eating quality to replace the imported intruders.

Derek Ryan in Oldtown , North Dublin has a very special product – Pink Champagne Rhubarb and its just about to start the season. It is grown indoors and in darkness , there is a craft and art to this process which is mirrored by the exquisite creations produced by the chefs eagerly awaiting it. Watch out for this on menus – delicate deliciousness at a whole other level for Irish Rhubarb.

David Heffernan’s wonderful nursery is like a something from a Fairy-tale during the Spring and Summer months… It holds the secrets of where chefs get the most incredible edible flowers saving time and carbon footprint in the process. The delicate petals and vivid colours add a dash of luxury to any plate.

We will be exploring more of the Irish countryside over the next magazine editions to savour and whet your appetite with tasty stories of Irelands people harvesting her lands instead of landing product on her shores.

'Chip Gate' and importing potatoes interview with Colm Bury @KeelingsSelect and a Spud Chat with Maurice Matthews @Seed Potato

Listening to RTE 1 news bulletins before Christmas and in the then face of a No Deal Brexit , it emerged as a shock to some consumers that Ireland imports potatoes…

So why would we import potatoes , when surely we grow them in abundance ?

Colm Bury is MD of Keelings Select and he quickly explained that Ireland has incredible potato producers and indeed a vast array of potatoes that are used for making chips.

“Chippers want a very specific potato” says Colm , “its the fry colour that’s different and the eating/tasting notes. Ireland has different soil and climate to the UK terroir where these Chipper potatoes are grown. Ireland has a specific mindset around how chips look and taste coming from a Chipper. ”

“Irish Potatoes are alive and well” says Colm , “we are promoting Irish potatoes all the time and we love selling them to customers. Irish potatoes are still a core stable on any menu both in the north and south of Ireland . New Season Queens enjoyed a massive new wave of popularity last summer – and nothing tastes like Summer like a steaming hot Floury Irish Queen potato with a big dollop of Irish Butter.”

Maurice Matthews from Seed Potato Company showed us a new variety of Potato called Irish Gold and his father Buddy Mathews was part of history as he was involved in creating the Rooster Potato along with Harry Keogh whom is described as The Harry Potter of Potatoes… Irish Gold is a beautiful potato with a creamy flesh and earthy flavour. Should we ask what potatoes are on our plate at a restaurant , would it matter ? This Irish Gold potato has antioxidants to compete with Blueberries and it has a distinctive purple eye. Irish Gold is one to watch for the food lovers looking for a Spud adventure.

So , in terms of Import Substitution it is safe to say that the Irish Potato is here to stay and nothing beats our national love of the humble Spud. As we move through the seasons we @GoodFood Ireland will bring you news on who’s doing what , where they are doing it and how they are doing it… Its all go @GoodFoodIreland , we look forward to your company on this delicious journey.

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