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 Paul from Rebel Chilli
Could you tell us a bit about the history of Rebel Chilli?
We’ve been selling sauce for the last six years since I graduated from college. I had been operating part-time during college but I decided to give it everything after realising I wanted to be my own boss following a college placement in New York.
Why is using Irish ingredients important to your company?
All of our ingredients are sourced abroad as the ingredients aren’t grown in bulk here. I would love to do an special Irish edition of a product though where all the peppers and chillies are grown here. It would be a limited release, but would be a lot of fun and great to have an Irish hot sauce made in Ireland from Irish chillies.
What is the biggest challenge that you face as a food producer in Ireland?
The totally inconsistent price of ingredients! Sometimes they can jump as much as 50% from week to week. Also, as a small food producer, it can be difficult when competing with massive brands with huge budgets, so more support from the government would be lovely.
What new trends do you see that are emerging in your industry?
The move away from processed foods and the desire for cleaner and more natural products. Our sauces have always been natural and we never add any additives or preservatives so we’re good in that sense, but more and more people are concerned with what they are buying. It’s great as it means people will buy products that are better overall and ones that support Irish companies.
Are there any major changes you would like to see in your industry?
More support for Irish producers in terms of marketing. Imagine if we had a program whereby small producers had an amount of nationwide exposure on radio or tv. Most producers are active on social media and very good at it, but if there was a way of amplifying it to the entire country, everyone would benefit. More sales, more jobs, more innovative products.
What has running your own business taught you?
That you need to really want to succeed in order to survive. Then once you survive, you can attempt to thrive. Tell me how you do it when you get there!
Who are some other Irish foodie brands you draw inspiration from?
Nutshed always make their stuff look so appealing, Hassett’s Bakery because I’ve a very sweet tooth, and Nutcase Food Company because I eat their nutburgers on a weekly basis.
What’s next for the company?
Release a new product soon that seems to be continually getting delayed, get our foodservice business back up to what it was, and maybe look at exporting to the UK next year? Who knows!
To find out more about Rebel Chilli click here!