Enterprising Food Conference – Nicholas Dunne, Killowen Farm Yogurt

My third post from this conference held as part of the Harvest Festival in Waterford. Here are the first (Peelham Farm) and second (M&D Bakery).

Killowen Farm Yogurt: They took over Killowen Dairy from orginal producers. 3 of them (friends) took over and lost a pile of money over 12 months. Mentor came in (Wexford CEB appointed) and suggested trimming the team (out went the 2). He also took advice from a friend of his who ran an ice cream company.

So the friend sat down with them and asked them “Are you out of your heads?” – he kept it up for an hour just to make sure they were serious! They put in better processes and tried for 1 day manufacturing, 1 day packaging and it took them a couple of months to do that.

They consolidated the business and moved it back to their dairy farm (which was 8 miles away). From there they started to do some market research and then sold into new local stockists.
They then got a listing with Pallas Food via a Speciality Foods fair (Bord Bia run) in Dublin and that moved them into volume and then the food service area. Food service is now 30% of their business.
They supply into a number of local hotels with the blessing of Pallas Foods so they retain the direct relationship with chefs whose feedback is blunt, immediate and vital 🙂

He touched on HACCP – they got away with murder early on but now are completely compliant so they can trace back for each batch where the raw ingredients came from. He said this is crucial for working with new buyers.

He again said that the assistance of Wexford CEB vital to them.

Awards – these reflect their emphasis on pure ingredients. Great Taste awards, Blas na hEireann (Gold medal) and JFC Innovation awards – most innovative food company. (a 3 star great taste award and 10 1 star awards).

Funding – initially Leader and then Wexford CEB helped with an owners managers course and assisted with their website. They also use on average at least 2 mentors a year. Going forward they hope to approach Enterprise Ireland for assistance.

They backload via Pallas Foods.

Packaging. New packaging launched in the last weeks. It took months and months and was shortened via Bord Bia Vantage programme.

They do about 40% private label – Superquinn glass jar and also Aldi. He sees this as helping their growth and also lifts their standards a lot.

Above photo from my previous post on their redesign. Thanks to Nicholas – that was a frank and enjoyable presentation which I am sure many food producers will appreciate and learn from.