Modern artisans

Lets face it, if you wanted to come up with a great name for an Irish pate and terrine producer you could do a lot worse than On the Pig’s Back. That’s the lovely Irish saying Ar mhuin na muice, by the way, although good luck and prosperity are the message of both languages.

On the other hand, you’d have to come up with more than just a name to outdo the real-life company called On the Pig’s Back. It has just won the Small Producer of the Year award at the Irish Food Quality Awards. Sponsored by SuperValu, the award is designed to celebrate artisan food and drink in Ireland and to give small companies, like On the Pig’s Back, a chance to sell through some of SuperValu’s 222 stores nationwide and make use of the sales and marketing expertise the retailer can offer.

Mind you, modern artisan food production and distribution is a fairly sophisticated business these days. Along with its stall at the English Market and a deli in Douglas, On the Pig’s Back has a very nifty website ( – what else?) and an online shop. And a recent deal signed with SuperValu will add two jobs and help with growth, as well of course as help to extend the range across the entire SuperValu network.

At this point we usually like to remind people of SuperValu’s commitment to Irish suppliers, and the importance to the economy and jobs of shopping in locally owned stores that have a policy of purchasing from local suppliers. It’s certainly helpful. Isabelle, whom some of you will have met at the stall and the deli, is delighted with the access to new markets and skills the deal gives her and her company. But she and her fellow workers have already proved that they have something important and original to offer and have put in a lot of hard graft in getting it right and spreading the word. That’s what got them noticed in the first place.

Which, in case you were thinking of having a go, is what being a successful modern artisan is all about – not just being a producer but having a bit of business sense, marketing ability and social media savvy. And a wonderful product too, of course. From personal experience we can recommend not just the On the Pig’s Back pates and terrines but the cheeses. If you’re in Cork, check out the stall or deli. If not, check out your local SuperValu in the coming months.

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