He was speaking at the launch of The Irish food Guide 2012.
“Conditions are tougher than ever in the marketplace but food producers who have the right product at the right price now have a devoted audience who are more conscious than ever before about buying Irish foods.”
The “continuing boom” for Irish artisan food producers is evidenced by the fact that this edition of Guide has 700 pages – 100 more than the last issue in 2010. Indeed, the first edition was published in 1989 when the book was little more than 200 pages in length.
There are three significant drivers in the Irish artisan food industry according to John McKenna: “People are more interested than ever in craft beers, in speciality pork and bacon and in sourdough breads. Whilst there is expansion in every direction with speciality food, these three areas have shown the most significant growth. Clearly, we are all hankering after a good bacon sandwich with a nice glass of Irish beer”.
The craft brewers, in particular, are experiencing “a perfect storm”, claims John, “Pubs are desperate for a Unique Selling Point so they want the beers; restaurants want them to complement their food; good wine shops want them and consumers want them. Add in the inexorable decline of the big brewery monoliths and you can see why the Irish craft brewers have gone from ‘zeroes’ to ‘heroes’ in double-quick time”.
Speciality Pork & Bacon
“Another dynamo has been the growth in artisans rearing rare-breed pork – the Irish grazer is back in the ascendant and good pork and bacon is more plentiful than ever,” he observes.
The Irish Food Guide by John and Sally McKenna, with Caroline Byrne is published by Estragon Press at €16 and is available in shops nationwide or from www.guides.ie.