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Voted in The 20 Best Irish Food Finds to Watch Out For in 2014

January 21, 2014

Clotildes Fruit Compotes have been voted in the best food finds to watch out for in 2014 by Irish Food Guide blog.

 

The 20 Best Irish Food Finds to Watch Out For in 2014

I don’t review restaurants. There are enough people out there who feel qualified to do so and therefore I don’t get involved in that aspect of Irish Food. What I do, is simply share information and news about food in Ireland so that others can discover new foods, learn more about modern Irish food and make up their own mind.

 

I am passionate about buying as much from local people as you can and I really believe that shopping at a local market must become a regular part of our weekly shop, as happens in France and many other countries. I love helping build up our own Leghowney Country Market here in Donegal and I do what I can to encourage people to buy Irish and buy local.

 

Over the last few years, buying local and supporting local food enterprises has finally become recognised by Irish consumers as being vitally important to the rest of the economy. This has helped the development of more country markets & farmers markets as people realise that local money, spent locally, stays local. It means that people can take their passion for baking or making their favourite food product to a new level and generate a business from it. It means people are returning to living as part of a community.

 

Most of Ireland’s growing artisan food brands started off at local markets. In the close-knit community that surrounds a market, artisan food entrepreneurs are able to develop their product and streamline their decision-making based on honest opinions from regular customers. This also helps to make the products being offered for sale at a market be of the highest quality possible within a shorter product-development time frame. The food producer will quickly find their optimum price position too, as regular customers that love your product won’t be long telling you if it’s value for money or not!

 

For the last few years, over the Christmas & New Year period, I have posted out a question on Twitter.

 

“What was your Irish Food Find of 2013? #BestIrishFood” went out this year and I had an truly amazing response which I have again whittled down to the twenty most regularly mentioned replies.

 

The responses from people all over the country are varied and show a definite confidence in Irish taste buds to try new products. You will see some great new food products and also recognise some familiar names that are growing in popularity though are still only being discovered by many, for the first time.

 

 

In this year’s Best Irish Food Finds over 80% of the food products, as recommended by Irish food lovers that responded to my Twitter Question, started off in Farmers & Country Markets around the island of Ireland. This is wonderful news for the future of new Irish Food producers, their products and food markets.

There were many replies which named restaurants or food shops as favourite finds, but in this particular list we only concentrate on the food product and its producers. County Cork, the acknowledged home of the Irish Artisan Food Revival, shines well in this year’s list. One name kept popping up again and again, over the last 10 days, as the food find most requested by so many people around the country – we will, of course, save that for last :)

Remember, this is based on Irish Twitter replies of your favourite food finds! I have included web-links in the product name, the county of origin & the Twitter name or phone number of the producer.

Country-Wide

Countrywide Interview July 2013

July 17, 2013

Clo with apples No2

Just How Mama Used to Make it

May 13, 2013

THE snack that Clotilde Fitzgibbon missed most when she came to Ireland in 1990 was the fruit compóte her mother used to make and serve to her family in France.

 

It was delicious and nutritious and she was puzzled why a similar product was not available in Ireland, as it was very popular in her native country, especially with children.
But that was to change after Clotilde introduced her own homemade compóte to Irish consumers who have now developed a taste for the natural and versatile product that is high in vitamin C and dietary fibre.

The background to it all is that she married tillage farmer Paddy Fitzgibbon and settled in Glanworth, Co Cork. The couple have three children, Celine (18), Jerome (16) and Laetitia (11).

But it was not until local dairy farmer Pat Landers asked her what French products might work in Ireland that she thought about turning her skills in making fruit compóte into a small food business.

Having grown up on a farm in France, surrounded by apple trees and with a love of cooking and a passion for wholesome produce, she set up an artisan food company with Pat Landers and named it, Clotilde’s Fruit Compóte.

Fruit compóte was, however, a new product for many Irish consumers, but she assured them it was a 100% natural product, with no added sugar or preservatives, and soon it began to attract growing interest.

The name is derived from the French word compóte, meaning mixture. It was originally served as an afternoon snack with sour cream and biscuits. During the Renaissance, it was served chilled at the end of dinner.

Compóte, which originated from 17th century France, can be used as a daily snack on its own or added to natural yoghurts, porridge, cereals, muesli, bread and toast, ice cream, fruit tarts or as a dessert.

Her varieties of compóte have become much sought after in Munster where they are now being sold in 25 shops including SuperValu and Centra stores, a mere two years after going on the market, as well at farmers markets and in health shops.

She is producing 400 pots of compóte per week in her kitchen at Glanworth but the production target is 1,000 pots a week with a renewed focus on targeting the market in Dublin about to be planned.

“The next big decision will be on commercialising the operation through outsourcing the production,” she said.

Meanwhile, Clotilde’s Compote, which comes in six different flavours, is proving popular across with all age groups and is especially suitable for coeliacs and diabetics and for people who cannot digest raw fruit.

It can also represent one of the five portions of fruit and vegetables that health experts are urging people to eat every day.

Clotilde, who has a degree in international trade, completed the Ballyhoura Country code of practice, which puts special emphasis on traceability and labelling verified by independent assessment.

She was one of just 11 food producers selected to participate in last year’s Enterprise Ireland SuperValu supplier development programme which is aimed at assisting emerging Irish food companies to achieve retail listings.

Developed by Enterprise Ireland in conjunction with SuperValu, and assisted by Bord Bia and Teagasc, the programme delivers support for small or emerging food companies to achieve the product quality, service standards and technical innovation necessary to reach supermarket shelves.

Being chosen for the programme, which combines workshops, delivered by both SuperValu and food industry experts, and one to one mentoring, was a significant achievement by Clotilde’s Fruit Compóte.

Participation is only offered to companies that have the potential to meet Enterprise Ireland’s criteria for high potential start-ups and who also have the potential to offer SuperValu and its retail partners a product or service, which adds value and difference for its customers.

An active member of the Taste of Ballyhoura Country, the brand initiative established by Ballyhoura Development to showcase the region’s craftisan foods, Clotilde’s Compóte is capturing market share and public attention.

Clotilde, who also teaches French at two primary schools in Fermoy, and is active in sports activities, is particularly delighted to be making the varieties of compóte her mother used to serve her family in northern France, when she was a child, and to be introducing Irish consumers to a food so close to her heart.

“The compóte are as delicious and nutritious as the ones I used to have at meal times in France. It is like being back at home,” she said.

 

CLO 8 screen

Cork Farmer’s Homemade Fruit Compotes

February 16, 2013

Clotilde Fitzgibbon has brought a little bit of France to the village of Glanworth, near Mitchelstown and to consumers in the Munster region. Apple-based fruit compotes produced by Clotilde in her kitchen are now selling in 25 shops, including Supervalu and Centra stores, less than two years after the product hit the market.

 

French native Clotilde came to Ireland 20 years ago and married tillage farmer Paddy Fitzgibbon. The couple have three children, aged 18, 16 and 11. She was asked by local dairy farmer Pat Landers what French products might work  well in Ireland. Having grown up on a farm, she suggested apple-based fruit compotes.

 

She formed a business partnership with Pat Landers and Clotilde’s Compotes was born. It is a handmade, homemade artisan product, naturally high in fibre and dairy free with no added sugar. It comes in six different flavours and, having gained a foothold in Munster, Clotilde and Pat are now starting to put their toes in the Dublin market.

 

Clotilde’s Compotes is an active member of ‘A Taste of Ballyhoura Country’, the initiative established by Ballyhoura Development to showcase the region’s craftisan foods. Clotilde did a marketing course run by Ballyhoura Development and also completed the Ballyhoura Country Code of Practice which puts special emphasis on traceability and labelling verified by independent assessment.

 

She was one of just 11 food producers selected to participate in last year’s Enterprise Ireland Supervalu supplier development programme which is aimed at assisting emerging Irish food companies to achieve retail listings. The six-month programme, which is supported by Bord Bia and Teagasc, helps companies to achieve the product quality, service standards and technical innovation to reach supermarket shelves.

 

The product is gaining popularity across all age groups. It is particularly suitable for groups such as coeliacs and diabetics and for people who cannot digest raw fruit. It has a shelflife of eight weeks. Professor Joe Carey and his team in UCC are currently testing the nutritional and potential health benefits of the compotes.

 

Clotilde is now fast approaching the stage where capacity in her kitchen cannot meet demand. “We are not producing enough to deliver an income. The next big decision will be on commercialising the operation through outsourcing the production,” she said.

CLO 7 screen

The new smoothie?

January 16, 2013

When Clotilde Fitzgibbon arrived in Ireland over 20 years ago – swapping a tillage farm in northern France for one in north Cork – one thing struck her about the supermarket shelves. “There was Sno yoghurt and Yoplait, but that was it,” she recalls. She knew there was potential for a new yoghurt-type product and so launched Clotilde’s Compôte – apple based fruit blends in handy 130g pots – which she believes could be the “new” smoothie. While a new concept in Ireland, compôtes are popular snacks in France.

 

Clotilde studied international trade before coming to Ireland to work in Agri Meats, now Kepak, in Cork. After meeting her husband, Paddy, she settled on a tillage farm near Glanworth, teaching French in local primary schools while raising their children Celine, Jerome and Laetitia. A keen foodie, she also baked and made preserves for her local farmers’ market. But her hobby became a business in 2011 after she was approached by family friend, Pat Landers. A former dairy farmer, Pat had worked as an auctioneer in Mitchelstown, but, with the downturn, he decided to do a food business course with Bullseye Marketing. While he had sales experience, he needed a partner with a flair for food. Clotilde, with her compôtes, was his first choice. With the help of Teagasc in Moorepark, the pair spent almost two months perfecting the fruit blends – such as apple and strawberry – in Clotilde’s kitchen. However, despite a minimal start-up investment (Pat estimates €2,000), there were teething problems. For example, while they started with locally-grown apples, they couldn’t get a year-round supply, so they had to switch to frozen fruit, imported by Sunnyside Fruit in Rathcormac. They also had to educate customers about the compôte concept.

 

“What do you do with it?” was one of the most common queries, recalls Clotilde. “It’s a simple, healthy product and you don’t want to complicate it. Just use it as a snack; the same as you eat a yoghurt.” Their explanations – and hard work – paid off when they received the top award at the Mitchelstown Food Festival in August 2011, winning a place on SuperValu’s supplier development programme. They were also selected as one of seven food producers for A Taste of Ballyhoura Country – a pilot branding and trading initiative spearheaded by Ballyhoura Development Ltd, with projects including a free recipe book.

 

Clotilde’s Compôte is now stocked in 25 outlets – including 15 SuperValus in Cork, Limerick and Clare – as well as Douglas farmers’ market every second Saturday, with blends including apple with strawberry, blackberry, pear, raspberry, lemon and orange rind. But there are still challenges – while they sell an average of 400 pots a week, they’ve a target of 1,000 to be considered for a supermarket listing and the current RRP of €1.99 is a hard sell in the climate. However, they will soon launch new branding with nutritional information (ascertained with the help of UCC through Enterprise Ireland) that will allow them to sell two pots per pack for a lower price. They are also targeting new stockists in Waterford and Dublin.

 

For the May bank holiday Monday, Clotilde’s Compôte will feature in the Taste of Ballyhoura food festival in Kilmallock. Could Clotilde and Pat have the “new” smoothie on their hands? There’s just one way to find out. “Eat it,” smiles Clotilde.

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A Taste of Ballyhoura Country on Nationwide

May 21, 2012

Watch A Taste of Ballyhoura Country on RTE’s Nationwide by clicking on the image below.