Could you tell us a bit about the history of Jack and Eddies?
We set up Jack & Eddie's as a family business in 2011 during the recession. The pig farming side of the business was always difficult, and it was always in our mind to sell our produce locally. We tentatively started selling freezer boxes of our product to locals but soon realised that a branded product would give us a better opportunity to tell our story. Pig farming has been in the family for 5 generations and Eddie and his son Jack are 4th and 5th generation farmers.
We liked the Family Farming, and Father and Son themes and so the brand was born. We started selling at the local Westport Country Markets on Thursday morning and soon after we started selling in a few SuperValu stores in Mayo owned by the Kavanagh group in Westport who were kind enough to give us a chance. We are now selling our award winning sausages, puddings and rashers across Ireland in many SuperValu, Dunnes and Tesco shops as well as independent food stores.
Why is using Irish ingredients important to your company?
We have always realised the importance of people buying Irish pork to our survival as farmers. It has always been in our mindset so we would never have deviated from that in producing our sausages, puddings or rashers. Of course the concept extends to the survival and success of our business and we are so grateful to our customers for believing in buying Irish and supporting us as a local business.
What is the biggest challenge that you face as a food producer in Ireland?
The biggest challenge facing food producers at the moment is trying to keep their staff safe from COVID-19 and their facility operating as close to normal capacity as possible. In addition, the disruption to supply chains caused by BREXIT is proving challenging for food producers in Ireland. Competition from imported substitute products is always a challenge but hopefully the recent pandemic has highlighted the importance of buying local and /or Irish.
What new trends do you see that are emerging in your industry?
Veganism is becoming more popular and obviously this is having an impact on the breakfast meat industry but conversely it is partially responsible for the move to higher quality, more sustainable & ethically sourced products. People are becoming more conscious of where their product is sourced. Consumers are seeking out high quality products and are moving away from cheaper alternatives.
Are there any major changes you would like to see in your industry?
As a small company we can be innovative in many areas especially in terms of new product ideas, how we deliver to stores and connect with customers through in-store tastings. However, we also want our business to become more sustainable. We are a member of the Bord Bia Origin Green food and drink sustainability programme. We are looking to Bord Bia and bigger companies to help lead the way in reducing packaging, reducing carbon footprint and contributing to the community.
What has running your own business taught you?
It has taught us that even a small idea can grow into something to be proud of and knowing that people are enjoying our produce every day in so many households is something that makes it all worthwhile. It has also taught us that we should always stick to our principles and goals - when we started out we said we wanted to have the best sausages in Ireland and we have won this accolade several times at Blas na hEireann as well as many other awards for our puddings and rashers.
Visit their website: www.jackandeddies.com