Sweet deals for Glenilen with Tesco and Aer Lingus

Cork-based producer wins contract to supply 138 stores in UK with three desserts

Alan and Valerie Kingston of Glenilen Farm

Alan and Valerie Kingston of Glenilen Farm

Mon, May 26, 2014, 07:44

Cork-based food producer Glenilen Farm has secured significant contracts with Tesco in the UK and Aer Lingus to supply them with desserts. These deals, believe its family owners, will create five new jobs at its base in Drimoleague.

Glenilen has secured a deal with Tesco to supply 138 stores in the UK with three desserts – lemon cheesecake, chocolate mousse, and coconut and passion fruit panna cotta – from the middle of June.

The contract is expected to generate £250,000 (€309,000) in invoiced sales annually

Aer Lingus Europe flights

The west Cork company, which is owned by husband and wife Alan and Valerie Kingston, began supplying Tesco Ireland in 2011. The supermarket chain is now one of its two biggest customers here, alongside wholesale group Musgrave. It started supplying yoghurt to Tesco stores in Britain last year.

Mr Kingston said this deal with Tesco would take the business to the “next level”.

“It’s quite significant in terms of our dessert range.”

The deal with Tesco will increase its proportion of sales in the UK from 13 per cent to about 18 per cent, and the company hopes to reach breakeven there this year. Glenilen also supplies Waitrose in Britain.

Its deal with Aer Lingus will see it provide cheesecake on the airline’s pre-order menus for European flights.

“We’re in discussions with them for transatlantic meals as well, which would probably be a bigger volume for us, given that they are longer flights,” Ms Kingston said.

The Kingstons said the new contracts would help increase turnover to about €4.6 million for the 12 months to the end of February 2015. This compares with €4.25 million in the past financial year.

Glenilen, which is backed by Enterprise Ireland, was set up in 1996 after Valerie Kingston found success in selling her homemade cheesecakes at local markets.

Employs 40 people It now occupies 55 acres on a farm owned by Alan Kingston’s family and they have a herd of 60 cows producing milk for their products. The company employs around 40 staff.

It has been expanding on a number of fronts in the past year. In April, Glenilen launched a four-pack of its yoghurts while its butter sales, which account for about 6 per cent of revenue, have been growing, with the product now stocked in the Cliff House hotel in Waterford and the Cliff Townhouse in Dublin, as well as in Avoca, Clodagh’s Kitchen and Donnybrook Fair in Dublin.

Glenilen has built its brand on using fresh, natural ingredients with no artificial additives.

Mr Kingston acknowledged that while this is a strong selling point, it also creates challenges for the business in terms of exporting its products.

“The issue is shelf life,” he said. “It we can crack that, it would be very significant for the business.

“It’s slow [building the business], it’s a hard grind but it’s working.”