Article

Clonakilty combines investing in innovation and celebrating its roots 

Article first published in the Business Post on Sunday, 12 September 2021

As one of Ireland’s most successful homegrown artisan food brands, Clonakilty Food Company has used the pandemic to invest time and resources in consumer research ahead of plans to add to its existing range of products, which includes its famed Clonakilty Blackpudding.

With a 55-strong workforce and export sales stretching from France and Spain in mainland Europe to Hong Kong in Asia and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, Clonakilty Food Company has come a long way from its humble beginnings in the picturesque west Cork town from which it takes its name.

And its ambition has now been recognised in Ireland’s Best Managed Companies awards programme. Run by Deloitte in association with Bank of Ireland, the prestigious awards programme has selected Clonakilty Food Company as one of 25 new winners this year.

For Colette Twomey, managing director of Clonakilty Food Company, the accolade has come as welcome recognition of the company’s success to date, but particularly since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in Ireland in March 2020.

“In some ways, Covid has helped us to step back as a company and concentrate a bit more on product ideas and innovation,” Twomey said. “All of our 55 employees have really gone above and beyond throughout the pandemic, adapting to new ways of working and giving 110 per cent across the board.

“Some switched to working from home and others transitioned to new shift patterns so we could keep up with retail demand and ensure we had back-up teams in place.

“We’ve also concentrated a lot on new products and we have done a huge amount of consumer research to see what’s out there — what people want in terms of new and emerging food trends — and how we can re-spond from a product point of view New product development is really our stronghold at the moment.”

Clonakilty Food Company had its origins in Harrington’s Butcher Shop, which traded on Pearse Street in Clonakilty,and was acquired by Twomey’s late husband in 1976.The couple began to sell their black pudding outside the shop and incorporated Clonakilty Blackpudding in 1982. Since then, the company has continued to go from strength to strength, expanding its product range to include white pudding, sausages, rashers, bacon joints and – most recently – veggie puddings.Clonakilty Food Co relocated to its current manufacturing facility on the six-acre former Hills Mills site on

Western Road just west of Clonakilty town centre in 2017. The purpose-built 5,000 sq m plant has a dedicated visitor centre tracing the history and development of the food brand right back to the secret local recipe for Clonakilty Blackpudding, which originated in the 1800s. “We really wanted to open the visitor centre on our new site, just as a way to embrace our brand and to celebrate the successful business we’ve built here,” Twomey said.

“It’s not about money. It’s about transparency and provenance; letting people know about our history and about how our products are made.“They can come here to immerse themselves in the story of Clonakilty

Blackpudding and since reopening in May we’ve had plenty of visitors. It’s been lovely to see that side of things start to pick up again now.”

This article first featured in the Business Post on Sunday, 12 September.

Applications for next year’s programme will open in January 2022. For more information about the programme, visit our website or email the team at iebmc@deloitte.ie.

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