Food entrepreneurs explore new market opportunities
William O’Callaghan, Longueville Beverages, Longueville House, Mallow [Producers of Longueville Cider and Apple Brandy]
One recent Cork LEO/Taste Cork initiative was to take a number of the micro- producer businesses under the umbrella to IFE in London, one of the world’s largest food and beverage trade shows.
We talk to three of those who went are contemplating a life after Brexit — Mella McAuley of Mella’s Fudge ( on page 12, opposite),
Jeffa Gill of Durrus Cheese, and William O’Callaghan, of Longueville Beverages. Jeffa said: “It was delightful to go with Taste Cork and to be with the other Irish producers and there’s always a lot of interest in the Irish produce in the UK, but my daughter is also just back from Mondiale Fromage [ one of the world’s largest cheese trade fairs, held in France] along with some other Irish cheese producers and there’s a lot of interest in our small cheeses. I just felt Mondiale Fromage would be a better bet.
“Brexit hasn’t happened yet so we don’t know what’s going to happen. The only impact it has had and it wasn’t even that direct was my exporter in the UK has to put the price up to the US because of fluctuation with the dollar.
“We are small specialist business and deal with small specialist markets where price is not especially important but if tariffs of 30% were suddenly introduced, it would have a dramatic effect, but after last week [ the British general election which may well have diluted the previous appetite for a hard Brexit] I’m not sure, we’re all in the dark, I really don’t know but I am a kind of an optimist, there is always a solution to these things. We are trying to look at markets directly in Europe rather than the UK, and we’re also trying to encourage customers in Holland and in Belgium, just exploring the idea of just dealing with Europe rather than just concentrating on the UK market.” William said: “To be honest, I was fairly negative about going over and I think I was proved right. They have plenty of their own cider in the UK and they also get tax relief, no tax on the first 10,000 litres, so it’s a less than level playing pitch. Getting it over is costly with the weakness in sterling it is hard to be competitive so we are tipping away at the Irish market and sending some to France and Singapore, and we are now on the verge of getting into the US. From a hotel point of view [William is also chef/ proprietor of Longueville House, along with wife Aisling] we have seen the English numbers are down due to sterling — and they are always good to spend — and I’ve heard that from other colleagues in the industry as well.”
William O’Callaghan, Longueville Beverages, says the UK’s tax relief for its own domestic beverage producers makes it a very difficult market for Irish companies to break into.
Jeffa Gill, whose post- Brexit plans include selling more of her award-winning Durrus Cheese range to EU member states.