Irish Strength

Over a quarter of a million people in Ireland have joined groups on Facebook backing small Irish businesses this Christmas

Any time ShelfLife is out and about talking to retailers, stores are always keen to fill us in on their unique local produce. Without a doubt, Irish retailers are proud to support Irish products and, in turn Irish jobs – as are their customers. With that in mind, we outline the heavyweight Irish contenders that deserve pride of place on your shelves


Brand Central

16 October 2018

Share this post:



Irish brands continue to flourish, with many of our most popular offerings easily competing with global giants. In fact, they have reached an iconic status, and are part of the fabric of Irish culture. As has been demonstrated time-and-time again; Irish consumers are hungry for locally produced, high-quality Irish products.

Furthermore, they are willing to try new brands and are more adventurous than ever when it comes to experimenting with new flavour combinations, as our summary of the latest leading Irish brands aptly demonstrates.

Q&A with Paul O’Brien, marketing manager, Boyne Valley Honey

Q: The Boyne Valley is an historic location in Ireland for a multitude of reasons, so we assume that Boyne Valley Honey is no different. Where does the brand fit in with the area’s rich past?

A: The Boyne Valley area has a long association with honey. Mellifont Abbey, built in 1142 and located close to Drogheda, takes its name from Fons Mellis meaning the fountain of honey. With this kind of pedigree heritage, it seems very fitting that Boyne Valley Honey was established in Drogheda in 1960. Our close association to the area continues to this day. Our Boyne

Valley Honey facility is actually located in a part of Drogheda called Mell which takes its name from the mil, the Irish word for honey. Our love of honey has been echoed by generations of customers who have made Boyne Valley Honey an iconic Irish brand. Our place as a family favourite in the weekly shopping basket has helped confirm our position as the number one best-selling honey brand in Ireland. The company is very conscious of the heritage and history of the Boyne Valley region. Over the years we have supported numerous community projects to help educate and inform about the rich past this region has.

Q: What is the point of difference that sets Boyne Valley Honey apart from other brands found on supermarket shelves?

A: The popularity of honey continues to grow as consumers become more in tune with a health and wellness lifestyle as they see how versatile and great-tasting, pure and natural honey can be. Understandably, with this increase in popularity, there has been a corresponding increase in the number of honey brands.

What sets Boyne Valley Honey apart is actually very easy to answer: we are experts in honey. For nearly 60 years, generations of our family-owned business have made a priority out of only sourcingand supplying the highest quality, great tasting honey. For example, pure Manuka honey can only come from New Zealand. We source and independently verify the origins and high quality of our premium Boyne Valley Manuka Honey. This continued attention to quality and taste is reflected in the fact Boyne Valley Manuka honey is Ireland’s favourite Manuka honey.

Q: We note the brand’s 60th anniversary is approaching; are there any plans to mark the occasion in 2020?

A: We have lots of exciting things in store to commemorate our upcoming anniversary. As we get closer to the time, we will release details about how we plan to celebrate this great milestone.

Q: Between now and then, what is the current objective for Boyne Valley Honey, in terms of growth and expansion for the rest of the year and beyond?

A: More and more consumers are either switching to honey or using honey in more ways. There is also a demand from consumers for different types of honey. Our objectives are simple; we want to engage with consumers and highlight the benefits and versatility of our Boyne Valley Honey range. For example, we are continuing to educate on the benefits of our raw honey.As our raw honey is gently filtered, it retains all its natural goodness and has an intense flavour and rich texture. Our longer-term plans are to increase our NPD and to drive value to the category.

Q: Are there any marketing campaigns planned for the brand, either in print, TV etc and what form will they take?

A: Yes, in October we will be starting a new national campaign to highlight the full range and many uses for our Boyne Valley honeys. This campaign will run across a range of media both online and offline. The online will include a new digital campaign and our offline includes a high-profile print campaign. We are also updating our Boyne Valley website with a new look and feel and exciting new recipes. Due to the strong demand for natural sweeteners and the growing awareness of the benefits of honey, Irish honey sales are forecasted to continue to grow. After nearly 60 years, we at Boyne Valley are delighted to play a part in this growth and to continue to be Ireland’s favourite honey.

Cream of the crop

Baileys is a remarkable Irish success story. Born out of two great Irish traditions – distilling and dairy – Baileys was expertly and uniquely created more than four decades ago, giving rise to a whole new spirits category in cream liqueurs and growing to be the most successful spirits launch of the past 40 years.

It’s a story of rapid growth and international expansion. Baileys is now available in 156 countries worldwide. And it’s a story with Irishness at its core. Baileys is a uniquely Irish product reflecting Ireland’s rich heritage and unparalleled agricultural tradition.

What’s more, Baileys is a proud contributor to the Irish economy. 275 million litres of fresh Irish milk, supplied from 40,000 dairy cows, grazing on 1,500 selected and accredited Irish farms, is required annually to produce the cream used in the production of Baileys. This is the equivalent of nearly 5% of Ireland’s total milk production. Over 80% of the ingredients and packaging used to make Baileys is sourced from the island of Ireland. Export sales of Baileys total €487m per year.

Today, Baileys is positioned as an indulgent treat; part alcohol, part dessert and pure pleasure. It can be enjoyed over ice, icecream, in coffee or as a baking component – the choices are endless!

The world’s most-loved spirits brand has never been in better shape with strong growth across core markets and expansion into new ones, and a vibrant innovation pipeline of product launches and line extensions.

Ireland’s clear favourite

Not only is Ballygowan Ireland’s number one water brand, but it is also the fourth biggest brand in the Irish soft drinks market by value, and second biggest by volume. Ballygowan is tapping into the consumer demand for healthier options and delivering strong growth of 16% MAT, driving sales of water and soft drinksthroughout the market (Source: Nielsen Scantrack June 2016).

Its rich brand provenance is engagingly communicated: Ballygowan Natural Mineral Water is bottled at source in a dedicated bottling facility in Newcastle West, Co. Limerick. The St. David’s Well source was first discovered by the Knights Templar more than 800 years ago and it sits on the grounds of the Ballygowan bottling plant to this day.

A durable Irish brand, Ballygowan is a founding member of the Love Irish Food campaign which champions locally sourced goods, supporting Irish jobs. Ballygowan is also a proud supporter of Irish sport and is Official Hydration Partner to both of 2018’s All-Ireland Champions: Dublin and Limerick.

The most recent addition to the range is Ballygowan Sparklingly Fruity, a ‘refreshingly different’ range of low calorie, low sugar Ballygowan water drinks. The range has recently been extended to include an elegant 50cl PET bottle, with just 36 calories in a bottle and no artificial flavours, colours or sweeteners, it is ideal for consumers looking for healthier refreshment.

100% compostable coffee capsules

Earlier this year, Bewley’s became the first Irish company to launch a range of 100% compostable coffee capsules. Thousands of Irish coffee drinkersstart their day by popping a capsule of ground coffee into a machine for the perfect morning brew. However as convenient as these capsules are, they come with a cost to the environment due to their un-recyclable packaging. While the coffee market in general is growingat 1.6% year-on-year, capsule sales are growing at almost 15% year-on-year.

As part of the company’s ongoing commitment to sustainability, Bewley’s created a range of 100% compostable capsules to tackle this growing environmental problem. The new range, which has been a big hit with consumers, is easilycomposted as capsules can just be dropped into home organic recycling bins (brown bins). Most other coffee capsules on the market are made from a combination of plastic and aluminium and are not biodegradable.

Made from renewable raw materials, Bewley’s capsules break down in just 12 weeks into CO2, water and compost. There is also less energy used and fewer greenhouse gases emitted during production of the new capsules. There is no compromise on the quality of the coffee though as the new plant-based capsules are oxygen-tight to ensure the same fresh, quality Bewley’s coffee that customers know and love.

The range includes two café blends and two single origins and all capsules are compatible with Nespresso machines (RRPs starting from €3.59).

Unique blend with unwavering character

For over 400 years, Bushmills Irish Whiskey has produced the finest blended and single malt whiskey at The Old Bushmills Distillery, Ireland’s oldest licensed whiskey distillery in the village of Bushmills, County Antrim.

Bushmills Black Bush is a prime example of a whiskey that specializes in a distinct and unique character. It combines a high amount of malt whiskey matured in former Oloroso sherry casks, with a sweet, batch-distilled grain whiskey. Black Bush subsequently has rich, fruity notes and a deeply intense character, balanced by an incredible smoothness. To enjoy this versatile whiskey at its best, serve neat or in a classic cocktail such as an ‘Old Fashioned’ to accentuate its distinctive flavour and smooth finish.

Recently, Black Bush collaborated with various independent, spirited and extraordinary Irish individuals to create a series of immersive Black Bush events in Dublin and Belfast. The result was Black Bush Stories.

This series explored photography, leather making and charcuterie, showcasing those who have made their mark and pioneered their craft with great success. They are people who have taken risks, tried new options and succeeded to illustrate creativity and passion, all qualities that Bushmills possesses when creating its exceptional whiskies. Keep an eye on

Flavoursome and fruity

Celtic Pure Irish Spring Water and the McEneaney family are proud to introduce their brand range of flavoured waters, A Hint of Fruit. Specifically developed for the whole family, A Hint of Fruit has no sugars or artificial sweeteners, only uses natural flavours and benefits from the addition of vitamins; B6, B12 and Biotin. This makes it unique in the Irish market.

The range includes a 500ml bottle available in four tasty varieties: Lemon & Lime; Apple & Elderflower; Strawberry & Watermelon; and Orange & Raspberry. Each flavour is sold individually as well as multipacks of six for convenience.

It also features a 250ml kids range, with three flavours specifically developed with children in mind: Apple & Blackcurrant; Strawberry & Watermelon; and Lemon & Lime. Sold in convenient 10-packs, the 250ml bottles feature resealable sports caps to suit lunch-boxes as a refreshing sugar free treat. The new range will meet the Irish consumer’s desire for healthier soft drinks and will feature newly designed labels and vibrant packaging, reflecting the brand values more closely.

The range, which has only just been launched, is already available nationwide in Dunnes Stores, Spar, Mace, Londis and Applegreen, highlighting the gap in the market for a healthier Irish flavoured water.

Iconic Irish brand relaunches

Cleeve’s confectionery, the much loved and well-known Irish brand has returned to the shelves after 30 years. Best known for slab toffee which was produced in Limerick from the late 1800s, the product was exported all over the world and is fondly remembered as being an integral part of Ireland’s confectionery industry for most of the 20th century.

Now in 2018, the new confectionery line features a range of hanging bags and bars and is exclusively distributed by Ampersand. Ampersand is an expert in the convenience sector and has steadily extended its snacking and confectionery portfolio over the last five years.

Hanging bags

Original Toffee pieces return as a hanging bag, as well as Original Chocolate Caramels, Original Fudge, Lucky Numbers assortment and Original Iced Caramels all with a RRP of €2.

History of Iced Caramels

The Iced Caramels sweet is a unique product, produced only in Ireland by Cleeve’s which is now located in Newbridge, Co. Kildare. Iced Caramel’s complicated manufacturing process has been practised by Cleeve’s since 1990. Previously, it was produced by Clarnico Murray who subsequently sold to Cadburys.

Cleeve’s has produced Iced Caramels under the Clarnico brand for Cadbury since 1990 and from 2007 under the Lemon’s brand. Now in 2018, Cleeve’s has launched this sweet treat under its own brand name and is delighted to bring to market Original Iced Caramels, made to the same original recipe and method as has been enjoyed by consumers for over 90 years.

Chocolate bars

Cleeve’s bar range offers consumers a tasty chocolate treat at fantastic low price-points.  The range of bars includes Original Macaroon (RRP €1), Sea Salt Caramel Crisp (RRP €1), Mint Crisp (RRP €1), and Choffo, a chewy caramel chocolate bar (RRP €0.80).

The Cleeve’s branding gives a nod to its vintage roots; the logo very similar to the original from 120 years ago. The bright colours of the hanging bags pop, they can be placed on hooks or are shelf-ready in their box. The bars have a Willy Wonka likeness to them and a retro look to appeal to all ages.

All of Cleeve’s products are produced in Newbridge and carry the Guaranteed Irish logo to reflect that they are manufactured in Ireland, something of a rarity in the confectionery industry these days. If you are interested in stocking Cleeve’s, call the Ampersand sales line on 01-4130100 or email

Flying the flag for quality

The food and drink industry in Ireland is currently thriving and Guaranteed Irish is delighted that many of Ireland’s most iconic food companies are members of the organisation and proudly display the highly regarded Guaranteed Irish symbol.

Guaranteed Irish is acutely aware of the contribution both the agri-food and retail sectors make to the Irish economy, at a micro and macro level. Its members provide employment, support local communities, and are committed to Irish origin, flying the flag for quality Irish produce on supermarket shelves at home and abroad.

As the national symbol for provenance and trust, Guaranteed Irish looks at three core criteria when assessing an applicant for membership: jobs, community and provenance. Both indigenous businesses and international companies with significant operations in Ireland can be considered for membership

As well as food, drink and retail, Guaranteed Irish membership spans a range of other sectors including pharmaceutical; healthcare; technology; construction; energy; professional services; manufacturing; tourism; craft and design; lifestyle; and more. For more information, visit

World-class jazz greats

This coming bank holiday weekend on 25-29 October, Cork will transform into a world-class jazz hotspot for The Guinness Cork Jazz Festival. This will feature an exciting line-up of music acts including jazz greats and a fringe festival that is set to be bigger and better than ever before. Some of the highlights include a Mexican style ‘Dia De Los Muertos’ jazz parade, swing dance classes, free ‘jazz on the plaza’ open-air gigs, flash mobs and swing jive.

Headline acts this year include Grammy award-winning Maria Schneider and her Orchestra for their first-ever Irish appearance, the legendary Blind Boys of Alabama, UK soul songstress Laura Mvula, Chicago’s Hypnotic Brass Ensemble and much more. For more information on The Guinness Cork Jazz Festival, visit *(Source: Research from iReach Insights, April 2018)

An affinity with luxury

Irish Distillers, Ireland’s leading supplier of spirits and wines, has recently launched a new division, Affinity Brand Co. This will build affinity for Irish Distillers and Pernod Ricard’s portfolio of luxury and new brands in high-end, influential venues across Ireland. The Affinity Brand Co. portfolio consists of Midleton Very Rare, Redbreast, Green Spot, Monkey 47, Method and Madness, Absolut Elyx, Lillet and Perrier Jouet. Headed up by director Shane Davey, the new division includes Claire Henry, as senior brand manager, Natalia Lynch, as sales manager, and Ger Garland, as Irish whiskey ambassador, alongside Conor Breen, brand manager, Michael Cowan, brand ambassador, and mixologist, Andrew Dickey.

The Affinity Brand Co. team will work directly with bar tenders and specialist retailers to nurture new, established and traditional brands in the Irish market.

Shane Davey, Affinity Brand Co. director is confident the division will bring knowledge and skill in relation to high-end brands into the trade. “Affinity means to have a natural liking for and understanding of something,” Davey explains, “and we choose to call our team the Affinity Brand Co. because we want our unique portfolio of products to be instinctively loved and understood by the influential bars, bartenders and off-trade accounts in Ireland.

#“Our team knows that growing demand for unique, high-end brands takes knowledge and skill, and with this new division and team, we will bring that knowledge and skill to the trade. The range of Pernod Ricard products that we represent is broad, offering the very best quality, and it meets the bartender, customer and consumer needs.”

Over the next 12 months, the team aims to establish itself in the Irish market, positioning Irish Distillers’ Pernod Ricard’s brands as the pinnacle of the luxury and forward-thinking segment in Ireland. It will forge and grow strong relationships with key influencers.

The Affinity Brand Co. will launch several new brands into the ROI market, such as Monkey Sloe Gin, Avion Tequila and Suz, as well as really looking to accelerate growth in the lower alcohol Spritz category, with Lillet, using all three of the Lillet variants.

True family favourite

MiWadi is a truly iconic Irish brand and continues to grow from strength to strength in the marketplace. From humble beginnings in 1927, MiWadi is still produced in Dublin to this day and around 16.5 million litres of MiWadi are consumed every year. This year, MiWadi is proud to introduce its new range of MiWadi 0% Sugar Super Fruity tasting flavours, a fusion of tasty new flavours combined with all the goodness and nutrients of fruits*.

Available in two flavours, Blueberry & Passion Fruit and Cranberry, Apple & White Grape, the range is also fortified with added vitamins B3, B6 and zinc which contribute to the normal function of the immune system and the maintenance of normal bones.

Like the rest of the MiWadi 0% Sugar range, the new flavours contain natural colours and flavours and are made with real fruit*. MiWadi 0% Sugar is unique to the MiWadi portfolio in that it is sweetened from a natural source (stevia leaf extract) and delivers the same refreshing taste that has made MiWadi a family favourite for 91 years. MiWadi 0% Sugar contains no more than five calories per glass and is now available in five fruity flavours: Orange, Apple & Pear, Apple Berry as well as the new flavours, Blueberry & Passion Fruit and Cranberry, Apple & White Grape. MiWadi continues to grow year-on-year maintaining its number one position in the flavour enhancer category**.

This year, MiWadi reached a record market share of 63%; proving to be a brand truly loved by the nation. MiWadi is a key brand in the Love Irish Food Campaign and the brand knowsthat buying Irish is important to MiWadi consumers. MiWadi 0% Sugar is stocked nationwide with a RRP of €2.69 for a 1 litre bottle that makes up to 20 glasses. * (Source: MiWadi 0% Sugar contains 10% fruit juice from concentrate as sold) ** (Source: Nielsen Value Share MAT TY. Data to 12 Aug 2018)

Truly healthy dessert

PowCow is a high protein, reduced sugar frozen yogurt, the first of its kind in Europe. Made from Greek style yogurt, PowCow not only provides a rich creamy taste but also boasts a fantastic nutritional profile. PowCow is a perfect guilt-free treat or snack post-exercise. Each 125ml portion contains less than 110 Kcal, 15g protein and 80% less sugar and fat than conventional ice creams or frozen yogurt.

PowCow is expanding its range in the coming months and will be launching a range of ice creams as well increasing its flavours of frozen yogurt.

To date, PowCow is listed in over 250 stores nationwide across Lidl and selected SuperValu stores and is also exporting to the middle east (Lulu hypermarket, Bahrain and Mega Mart, Qatar).

Premium blended whiskey

Launched in 2017, Roe & Co is an exciting new entrant to the whiskey market, but its heritage is deeply rooted in the 19th Century’s golden era of Irish whiskey. Symbolising the incredible regeneration underway in its home in Dublin’s Liberties; this exceptional new liquid is named in honour of George Roe, the once world-famous whiskey maker. His distillery, George Roe and Co, which extended over 17 acres on Thomas Street in Dublin, was once Ireland’s largest distillery.

Set to open in 2019, the new Roe & Co distillery will be located just a stone’s throw away fromwhere the original distillery stood. A premium blended Irish whiskey that combines the signature smoothness of Irish whiskey with a remarkable depth of flavour, Roe & Co is made from the best hand-selected stocks of Irish malt and grain whiskies and aged in first-fill bourbon casks.

Roe & Co was born out of a partnership between Diageo master blender Caroline Martin and five hand-picked, Irish-based bartenders, with the task of creating a unique blended Irish whiskey that would hold its own in cocktails. For further information, check out and @roeandcowhiskey on Instagram.

A real flavour of Ireland

The Brady Family brand continues to prosper within the cooked meats category and is now firmly established as a favourite among Irish consumers. Brady Family Ham has been made using the same recipe in Co. Kildare for over 40 years. It is made from 100% Irish pork.

In May of this year, the Brady Family range of premium ham products was extended to include a new range of Real Irish flavours products which were inspired by the unique tastes of Ireland. The real Irish flavours – Twice Turf Smoked, Black Pudding Spiced and Whiskey Marmalade Glazed – have been developed through partnerships with food producers from across the country, including New Ross-based Wexford Preserves and West Cork’s Spice O’Life.

Spearing cream liqueur category

Dalcassian Wines & Spirits is delighted to launch the super-premium Five Farms Irish Cream Liqueur in Ireland. Five Farms is a single batch Irish cream liqueur that is entirely sourced and produced in Cork and derives its name from the five family-owned farms in the region that provide the product’s rich dairy cream.

Cork is also home to the centuries-old tradition of distilling Irish whiskey. Made with premium 10-year-old, triple-distilled Irish whiskey, the secret to the super-premium taste lies in both the quality and high quantity of whiskey in the recipe. This includes a 10% whiskey content compared to less than 1% used by most cream liqueur brands.

This difference is significant, resulting in an intensity of whiskey flavour that the brand believes sets Five Farms apart from every other Irish cream liqueur in the world.

Five Farms is a true farm-to-table product, crafted from single batches of fresh cream that are combined with Irish whiskey within 48 hours to become an authentic Irish cream liqueur.

It has already taken the United States by storm and is tipped as the brand that will elevate the cream liqueur category globally. Five Farms has just received the highest-ever rating for an Irish cream liqueur in the 2018 Ultimate Spirits Challenge, the world’s premier spirits competition. The phenomenal 97 score awarded to Five Farms in this prestigious competition has created intense excitement in the drinks industry world-wide. Sales in the US are already off-the-scale & Dalcassian says the response in the Irish trade is overwhelming (RRP €35).

“The high whiskey content and the super-premium quality of both the whiskey and the rich dairy cream is a game-changer for the category,” says John Dillon, managing director, Dalcassian Wines & Spirits.

Enriched for goodness

Ishka Irish Spring Water, founded in 1978, is a 40-year success story built on the purity and clarity of the spring water. Flowing from an exclusive on-site natural spring and bottled on-site in Ballyneety, Co. Limerick, Ishka Spring Water is unprocessed and untreated, thus retaining maximum health and wellness benefits – just as Mother Nature intended.

The natural filtration through local bedrock gives Ishka its exceptional pureness with an unrivalled fresh and rejuvenating, invigorating taste.

At the Ishka facility – one of the most modern of its kind in Europe – innovation is a constant. There are a number of highly sophisticated, high-speed and full automated bottling lines, meaning the entire process is completed on-site, from the springs to shipment. Furthermore, Ishka bottles are now blown from recycled PET. Ishka Irish Spring Water is available in a wide range of sizes and formats from 250ml to 5L. The sports cap 1 litre is great to sip all day long, while 750ml and 500ml bottles are ideal to quench a thirst when active or on-the-go. The 250ml sports cap is perfect for small hands and staying hydrated at school.

Meanwhile, consumers can also enjoy the benefits of Ishka’s flavour range. These include Red Apple, Strawberry & Raspberry and Lemon & Lime. These new flavoured waters contain zero sugar and only five calories per 500ml sports cap bottle.

Guaranteed Irish Ishka Spring Water is available nationwide; to learn more, visit



Share this post:

Back to Top ↑

Shelflife Magazine