Taste Bud: 20 food and drink firms win Tesco listing

Seven-month programme provides mentoring and workshops to support companies

Friends Catherine Buggy and Suzanne Lynch started making baking mixes at their kitchen table and selling them at farmers' markets less two years ago.

They caught Tesco's eye - and now their Boutique Bake cake and bread mixes are in 11 Tesco stores in Dublin and Wicklow.

They were one of 20 companies to win a place on the Taste Bud programme run by Tesco and Bord Bia to help food companies get listed with the supermarket chain at home and abroad.

The seven-month programme provides mentoring and runs workshops to support companies at various stages of development.


Bord Bia's chief executive Aidan Cotter said one quarter of the 20 companies did not exist when programme began four years ago.

“We are heartened to hear the many, many success stories from Irish companies who have taken part and gone on to grow both locally and internationally,” he said.

Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney noted that 50 per cent of new businesses failed within their first year.

“The businesses that are lucky enough to get on to this programme in my view are plugged into a system and a support structure which will dramatically increase the likelihood of them surviving and growing and prospering.”

Indian ready meals

Bombay Pantry's Emma Sheehan said she was "absolutely delighted"that the Indian ready meals would soon be on the shelves of Tesco.

“It’s such a great opportunity. We’re from Wicklow and it will do great stuff for the local community in Kilcoole.

“We will be looking to employ new people down there because of this. We currently have about 50 employees full time.”

Tesco Ireland’s commercial director John Paul O’Reilly said the 20 companies on this programme should aim “to be the next Glenilen, to be the next Lily O’Briens...and maybe think about being the next Kerry [Group].”

He said research by economic consultants Indecon found that Tesco was the world’s biggest buyer of Irish food and drink, buying €1.6 billion of Irish food and drink a year.

Some €931 million of that food and drink is sold in Tesco stores overseas.

Mr O’Reilly said more than 13,000 Irish farm families were now supplying their produce to Tesco and 100 per cent of the fresh lamb, beef, pork, eggs and milk that Tesco sold was Irish.

According to the Indecon report, the supermarket chain has an economic impact of €3.26 billion per year in the State.

*The 20 companies participating in the 2015 Taste Bud programme are: Bombay Pantry, Niks Tea, 250Kal, Bia Ganbreise, Nüsli, Organic Little One, McCormack Farms, Goodness Grains, Boutique Bake, Chilly Moo, BRÚ, Powerful Yogurt, Galway Hooker, Kilmore Quay, Lakeland Dairies, Coomara, Flahavan's, Ballineen Fine Foods, Keohane Seafoods and Coolmore Foods.

Alison Healy

Alison Healy

Alison Healy is a contributor to The Irish Times