In our new Meet the Maker series, we're shining the light on the many gifted producers behind some of Ireland's best food and drink brands. Today, we chat to Hugh of Achill Oysters
Achill Oysters came out of a want to do something which melded my love of the sea, the island that I grew up on and a burning desire to build a sustainable business. I spent many years talking about how aquaculture could do that. I did some courses, a lot of reading and travelled to further my knowledge; but for the most part it was conversations (preaching) over bottles of Chablis.
Then fate took over. I had a Road to Damascus experience. A lot of things changed; one of which was deciding to leave my nice IT job and get the ball rolling on an aquaculture project. What started as a humble pet side project has turned in to what you see today. We grow, process and distribute oysters nationally and globally.
Why is using Irish ingredients important to your company?
Using indigenous Irish ingredients is at the heart of what we do. In fact it is written on the side of the van. Where possible we try to support Irish companies up and down the supply chain.
What is the biggest challenge that you face as a food producer in Ireland?
Keeping our quality up. We are so lucky to have a fantastic maritime environment to work with here in Ireland. It is in need of constant vigilance to ensure that we keep it so we can pass it on to the next generation. We are only custodians for a very short period of time.
What new trends do you see that are emerging in your industry?
The biggest trend we have seen is online shopping. We were early to the party when we set up the web-shop on achilloysters.com. The growth over the last couple of months has been truly breath taking.
What has running your own business taught you?
Don’t give up. There is nothing wrong with being knocked down; but you have got to get up.
Who are some other Irish foodie brands you draw inspiration from?
Kerry Group. They are an indigenous Irish company that produces high quality products. They are a global business now and they have proven over the decades that big can carry quality and success.
In my own sector you have to look at Irish Premium Oysters and Carlingford Oysters. They have blazed a trail and in their own ways created an industry for the rest. An inspiration to observe from afar and even more so when I’ve been lucky enough to collaborate with them.
What’s next for the company?
In these uncertain times plotting a sustainable course for everyone involved with Achill Oysters is the only goal. To repeat something that was said to me recently, “there are no winners or losers during this pandemic, only survivors”.
Find out more about Achill Oysters here!