The Irish Times Business Person of the Month: Roisin Hennerty

Ornua Global Foods Division MD instrumental in Kerrygold becoming first Irish food brand to exceed €1bn in sales

Roisin Hennerty, managing director of Ornua Global Foods Division, who oversees a portfolio of brands sold in more than 100 countries, has been named The Irish Times Business Person of the Month for April, an award run in association with KPMG.

In April, its top brand, Kerrygold, became the first Irish food brand to exceed €1 billion in annual sales. Around 7.5 million packets of the butter were sold each week in 2018.

Hennerty is credited with getting it off the ground in the US market. Steering clear of Oirish stereotypes, she targeted the premium food brand segment in high-end retailers. Grass-fed, hormone-free and entirely natural, it tapped the growing demand for whole foods, something other than high-intensity farming. And she pitched it at the foodie market in California rather than more traditional Irish targets on the east coast.

It’s been a winning formula and the brand, originally created by Sir Anthony O’Reilly back in 1962 in his time at the head of An Bord Bainne, has enjoyed major success in recent years. It is now the number two butter brand in the US. In Germany, its principal European market, a standard 250g block of Kerrygold butter was the fastest-selling food or drink item on supermarket shelves last year.