Food en­trepreneurs ex­plore new mar­ket op­por­tu­ni­ties

Wil­liam O’Cal­laghan, Longueville Bev­er­ages, Longueville House, Mal­low [Pro­duc­ers of Longueville Cider and Ap­ple Brandy]

Irish Examiner - Supplement - - FOOD & DRINK IRELAND -

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.

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