LO­CAL HE­ROES Knives are out for new but­ter brand with at­ti­tude and flavour to match

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Business & Appointments - - FRONT PAGE -

The pair ini­tially sold their but­ter in farm­ers mar­kets and they have since made in­roads into Su­per­valu, BWG (which owns shops such as Mace and Spar), and in­de­pen­dent stores such as Avoca and Don­ny­brook Fair.

“Im­proper But­ter is a pre­mium prod­uct and is tar­geted at peo­ple who are very in­ter­ested in food,” says Han­nah. “So we are not try­ing to ap­peal to a cer­tain per­son of a cer­tain age — our prod­uct is for peo­ple who want to spend their money on food. That lends it­self to ur­ban ar­eas in the likes of Dublin, Gal­way, Lim­er­ick, Kilkenny and Cork.”

Im­proper But­ter also ex­ports its but­ter to Bahrain — and to Lon­don.

“We have our but­ter in a small chain of su­per­mar­kets in Bahrain,” says Han­nah. “The de­mand for our but­ter there is com­ing from the ex­pat mar­ket — who are look­ing for prod­ucts from the Bri­tish Isles. Ir­ish but­ter has a good name abroad. It has a great shelf life so it trav­els well.”

Al­though their but­ter is cur­rently for sale in Lon­don, the com­pany is un­sure if it will ex­port more to Bri­tain go­ing for­ward. “The Bri­tish mar­ket is very in­ter­est­ing — ev­ery­one has to fac­tor in Brexit,” says Han­nah. “So we need to see if there are other mar­kets we can ex­port to.”

Al­though it’s early days for the com­pany, the duo would even­tu­ally like to ex­port to France, the Nether­lands, Bel­gium and Ger­many. “Ger­many has a mas­sive ap­petite for flavoured but­ters,” says Han­nah. “The chal­lenge is com­pe­ti­tion and price — the Ger­man con­sumer is very dis­cern­ing on price.”

Han­nah also feels that there are some parts of France, such as Brit­tany, where it could be hard to for the com­pany to es­tab­lish a pres­ence. “In cer­tain parts of France, there are ar­eas where they look to their own but­ter,” says Han­nah.

Im­proper But­ter will be launch­ing two new prod­ucts at the Bloom Fes­ti­val this June bank hol­i­day week­end — a root veg­etable mashed po­tato and a gar­lic bread. Its root veg­etable mash comes in three flavours — creamed po­tato, sweet po­tato with chilli, and po­tato and cele­riac with nut­meg. The duo have also fi­nalised their own ‘lim­ited edi­tion’ range of sea­sonal but­ters: a spring but­ter made of gar­lic, rosemary and lemon; harissa but­ter for sum­mer bar­be­cues; and a sage but­ter for au­tum­nal dishes.

“Sea­sonal but­ters are some­thing we’re re­ally in­ter­ested in — they’re some­thing new for con­sumers to look for­ward to and some­thing new to try,” says Han­nah.

“We had a sage, rosemary and thyme turkey bast­ing but­ter out in the run-up to Christ­mas. That took off well — peo­ple buy a lot at Christ­mas. We were de­lighted with the re­ac­tion to it and the sales from it. With the sage and rosemary turkey bast­ing but­ter, we were telling peo­ple ex­actly what to do with it and I think that re­ally helped.”

Han­nah ac­knowl­edges that the com­pa­nies that pro­duce cook­ing sauces are big com­peti­tors of her busi­ness — as cook­ing sauces are of­ten used by Ir­ish peo­ple to add flavour to their meals. She’s not daunted by the com­pe­ti­tion though.

“It’s a re­ally good time for but­ter — peo­ple con­tinue to tell us at food shows or even in su­per­mar­kets that they are switch­ing back to but­ter,” said Han­nah.

“I sup­pose there is a trend around ‘ev­ery­thing in mod­er­a­tion’ or ‘back to ba­sics’ — which is great to see.”

The founders of Im­proper But­ter, Han­nah O’reilly and Elaine Lav­ery: ‘We take the qual­ity of our but­ter for granted here in Ire­land’ Photo: Tony Gavin

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