New Innovator: Crumble’n’Crunch makers Murryhill Foods

Cheese product is targeted at millennials and working parents

Murryhill Foods co-founders  Áine Kinsella and Niamh Duffy.

Murryhill Foods co-founders Áine Kinsella and Niamh Duffy.

 

Developing a food product for the mass market is not for the faint-hearted, but Áine Kinsella and Niamh Duffy had a head start. The co-founders of Murryhill Foods have 40 years’ experience of the food industry between them and have used it to create Crumble’n’Crunch, a new cheese product for use with salads, pizzas and pasta.

The founders met while studying agricultural science in UCD. They specialised in food science and food engineering technology and ended up working for companies such as Kerry Foods, Aryzta and Statoil.

In 2014 they set up consultancy Bia Nua to offer guidance to new and established food businesses. They then used the income generated by the consultancy to start Murryhill Foods earlier this year. Self-funded investment in the business to date has been about €100,000.

Duffy describes Murryhill as “an innovative food business focused on being creative, enhancing meal occasions and delivering good-quality, convenient food solutions”. Crumble’n’Crunch will have its national launch later this month and is already available in 15 SuperValu shops in the Dublin area.

Crumble’n’Crunch started life on the kitchen table as the partners thrashed out the kind of product they wanted to make. “We spent time looking at retail and food-service trends in London, New York, Chicago, Dallas and San Francisco,” says Kinsella. “We saw an opportunity to add value to cheese and extend its usage occasions. Ours is the only complementary crumbled cheese product range on the market and it gives extra texture and taste to dishes and offers a new way of enjoying cheese.”

There are four products in the range, including a mix of goat’s cheese with beetroot and walnut crumb and mature cheddar cheese with maple, bacon and oat crumb. It’s this combination of different cheeses and crumbs that prevents the products from being easily copied. “The product may sound simple, but it’s actually quite complex from a manufacturing perspective, especially with nuts in the mix,” Kinsella says.

The partners decided to outsource the manufacturing of Crumble’n’Crunch for several key reasons. The first is cost. Setting up a new plant would have required significant investment. The second is that an experienced partner can provide resources and expertise to support a new product. Thirdly, there is ample evidence that manufacturing start-ups can founder because the focus is on operations to the detriment of other critical functions such as sales, marketing and finance.

“It’s easy to lose perspective if you’re doing the manufacturing yourself, particularly if something is not working as it should and you need to put a lot of time into making changes,” Kinsella says. “We didn’t have a specific manufacturer in mind when we started looking and we talked to several. What was essential, however, was that the facility had BRC (British Retail Consortium) accreditation as Crumble ’n’ Crunch is very much a product for the export market.”

It took about 18 months for the partners to nail down their idea. At that point they began working with the agricultural and food development authority, Teagasc, to refine it. They also participated in the Bord Bia-run Food Works programme for food entrepreneurs, which Duffy says gave them access to a range of experts who helped them take their idea from concept to finished product.

“Crumble’n’Crunch is designed to give consumers a restaurant experience at home within minutes without have to buy in a huge range of ingredients,” says Duffy. “The target consumer group is millennials and working mums who want to create great meals but with limited preparation time. The product is portion-controlled, with two servings in a pack. This reduces waste for the consumer as there is no need to purchase a big piece of an expensive cheese that ends up not being used. The packaging is resealable and Crumble’n’Crunch stores perfectly in the fridge.”

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