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 Miena founder of Miena's Handmade Nougat
Could you tell us a bit about the history of Miena's Handmade Nougat?
I started making nougat in our home kitchen in 2012 and sold it at Marley Park on Saturdays. In 2013 I converted our garage into a purpose build nougat kitchen and launched it at Gifted that Christmas. In 2014 Avoca was my first retailer and it grew slowly from there. In 2016 I started to win a few awards, from the Irish Free From, Blas na hEireann and Great Taste organisations. That summer I met the Simply Better team (Dunnes) at Bloom and by the end of the year, I started producing nougat for Dunnes under the Simply Better Brand. In 2018 our nougat won gold and silver at Blas and I was contacted by Harrods. We now produce nougat under the Harrods brand as well, and subsequently started producing for a Danish Chocolate company too.
Why is using Irish ingredients important to your company?
It helps everyone supporting Irish companies, Ireland is small and if we all invest back into our country it is a plus for everyone.
What is the biggest challenge that you face as a food producer in Ireland?
Nougat is not well known in Ireland, - not the nougat I make, which is similar to what we enjoyed in South Africa, and the perception is an overly sweet, taking out teeth, artificial - the 'pink and white stuff'. And my biggest challenge was educate people, and make them realise not all nougat is the same.
What new trends do you see that are emerging in your industry?
People are more health conscious, and environmentally friendly, I get a lot of people asking if our packaging is recyclable. People love Irish produce and are more willing to pay extra for good quality products.
Are there any major changes you would like to see in your industry?
Not really, I come from a country where there is no help for small businesses, so I find Ireland amazing.
What has running your own business taught you?
Who are some other Irish foodie brands you draw inspiration from?
Oh my goodness, there are so many, I really get my inspiration from the 'whole Irish foodie community' the vibe and comoradie there is in the food industry is so uplifting, its really like being part of a family.
What's next for the company?
Lots more nougat!! New flavours and beautiful new packaging will be out before September
Find out more about Miena's here!