Union Hall has signed an agreement worth €920,000 with SuperValu to supply a range of oak-smoked fish products after securing nationwide distribution with Ireland’s leading grocery retailer arising from the company’s participation in the Food Academy programme.
Food Academy is a joint initiative between Bord Bia, the network of Local Enterprise Offices and SuperValu and was established to support early-stage Irish food businesses. Participating companies gain access to expertise in branding, market research, business development and distribution, to allow them to scale up and secure listings with SuperValu.
Based in West Cork, Union Hall Smoked Fish was set up in 1987 by Elmar, and the recently deceased John Nolan. It is now run by their son Sean. Specialising in Smoked Salmon, Mackerel, Tuna, and Fish Pates, the Nolan’s brine the fish, then slowly oak smoke it in the centuries-old traditional manner in their bespoke artisan smoke house.
A coveted product, Union Hall Smoked Fish products are now available in over 85 SuperValu stores nationwide. As part of their participation in the Food Academy programme through their Local Enterprise Office in Cork North and West, Union Hall have cultivated a unique network of local suppliers, who also participated in the programme. This network is currently working together to help grow the renowned west Cork style of food. Union Hall have also benefitted from over €50,000 in funding that they were able to access through their Local Enterprise Office to help them on their journey.
Speaking about the deal, Sean Nolan, Managing Director, Union Hall said: “Today’s deal with SuperValu was made possible through our participation in the Food Academy programme. We have been able to invest throughout in our business, as well as in our top-class Artisan Smoke House through their support. Furthermore, we now employ eight people, which has seen us reach new heights, including winning an award for our smoked mackerel at the Blas na hÉireann awards in 2017. Through the marketing and branding support of the Food Academy, we decided to come together with fellow suppliers in the west Cork region, which we hope will forage strong ties amongst this particular business community.”
Martin Kelleher, Managing Director, SuperValu added: “We are delighted to expand our partnership with Union Hall, and the spirit that they have shown throughout their participation in the programme, particularly with their local colleagues, goes to the heart of everything SuperValu stands for. We know that our customers love supporting local businesses, and this is one of the many reasons that they choose to shop in their local SuperValu. Through the Food Academy, independently owned, family run businesses, can compete with global brands, without needing to deviate from their beginnings. This is something that we are truly proud of.”
Tara McCarthy, CEO, Bord Bia, said: “On behalf of Bord Bia, I congratulate Union Hall on gaining nationwide distribution with SuperValu. Through their hard work, they have expertly utilised the knowledge gained through their participation in the Food Academy Programme. This deal highlights the growth potential for ambitious food producers and their important role in the Irish food and drink industry, capable of serving both local and national consumer needs.”
Oisin Geoghegan, Chair of the Local Enterprise Offices Food Committee, said: “Union Hall are a great example of the Food Academy Programme working to its strengths. The company were able to access the programme though their Local Enterprise Office in Cork North and West and through this were able to work directly with Bord Bia and SuperValu to grow their family business. Along with this they were able to continue to work closely with their Local Enterprise Office on the journey to avail of funding to help them get to a position now where they are true ambassadors for West Cork’s world class food.”
SuperValu serves over 2.7 million customers every week and has 217 stores nationwide. Together with its retail partners, SuperValu employs approximately 14,500 colleagues, making it one of the State’s largest private sector employers. 75% of everything on SuperValu’s shelves is sourced in Ireland, with products sourced from over 1,800 suppliers – more than any other grocery retailer – which helps to sustain 30,000 jobs in the Irish economy.
The Local Enterprise Offices, who are funded by the Government of Ireland through Enterprise Ireland, have 31 offices located in each county nationwide. The Local Enterprise Offices’ play a key role in fostering start-ups and business growth locally, offering a range of financial and mentoring supports to new businesses and existing small businesses that want to grow. In 2017 Local Enterprise Office client companies created over 3,700 new jobs across the country.