My apologies!

I’m so sorry about the site disruption here over the last days. I was trying to migrate the site to a new server and failed miserably. The good people at Blacknight are helping now, and hopefully we’ll be able to do it without any more down time.

Thanks so much for bearing with me!

Irish Foods Under Threat

foods On Saturday, the Irish Times had an article about how Irish brands were going to start disappearing from the shelves of Tesco as the supermarket chain wants to have Irish shops mirror their British shops in terms of offerings. They will start removing Irish products from shops close to the border and in at least one shop in Cork. It is also understood that if successful, Tesco will do the same across all their shops in the Republic.

It’s a story that should have caught the attention of anyone who loves food in Ireland, since the ripples of such a decision would be immense. Tesco own around 23% of the Irish food market, and the impact upon Irish food producers (and Irish employment) in losing such a huge chunk of market share could be catastrophic. According to Bord Bia, the average spend of Irish people on imported foods has risen 50% since 2000. With Tesco dumping Irish brands, that percentage would skyrocket as a large segment of Irish consumers would lose easy access to Irish brands. There could be many Irish food companies that would not survive losing such a large percentage of their sales.

I’ve already written about the web of connectivity here, and I think it’s time to stop pretending that the decisions we make in our spending habits have no effect of the Irish economy and jobs. I also think we need more pride when it comes to Irish foods. I don’t know where the government stands in all of this, but they would be very wise to take action, or they will be complicit in giving us a poorer selection of Irish food items and facing even longer dole queues. Unfortunately, given their track record, I wouldn’t have faith in them doing much of anything.

Perhaps a better plan would be to have a more activist spirit here in Ireland among consumers. Compared to my experience of living in other countries, we tend to meekly accept many things that come at us (with a lot of complaining) instead of fighting back. The power is in our hands. If enough customers vote with their feet or otherwise make their displeasure known, it would put a very quick stop to Tesco’s plans before we lose Irish food companies and the jobs that go with them.

Just a little note: We do not sell into Tesco, so we have no direct stake except possibly losing Irish foods we love.

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A Marketing Dilemma

 As everyone knows, there has been a lot of bad press about banks recently (and with good cause, it seems, for the most part).

However, I have to say that our local bank manager at AIB Dingle has been extremely supportive, helpful, and has extended credit at a time when the media and politicians keep saying “the banks are closed for business.”

We can’t talk about banking as a whole, but we have no problem saying publicly that in our case AIB has been brilliant, has been open for business, and that we could recommend our bank and bank manager to any small business.

Now to the dilemma:

As many people know, AIB has done ad campaigns highlighting small businesses, ads that have been very helpful to the businesses selected. We have been told that we are shortlisted for being included in one. They also want to use us for a poster campaign.

Now, the question is this:

Recognising that this is free marketing that we could never afford and could significantly increase our brand awareness in this country, should we go ahead and do it, or is it too risky linking our brand to a bank in these times?

I’ll put a poll below, but I would also love to have your comments!

[poll id=”5″]

19-16 Patriot Excise Act

I try to keep away from politics on this site, but this came in, and it’s not good news for coffee and sweet lovers!

Government sources today revealed that ministers have endorsed the so-called “19-16 Patriot Excise Act,” and the proposal now looks set to become an integral part of next week’s budget. 19-16 may invoke the events of the Easter uprising, but it actually refers to a 19% excise duty on coffee and a 16% duty on sugar.

“We have always been a both a country and a party of tea drinkers,” Brian Cowen stated, “and a duty on coffee will not only bring in 1 billion euros of badly needed revenue but will also target those among us who have benefited the most from the Celtic Tiger. Let’s face it,” he continued, “the ordinary working man is not a cappuccino drinker.”

As for the 16% levy on sugar, which will bring in a further 2 billion of revenue, the Taoiseach repeated his call for patriotism.

“Was there any evidence of cream buns or sticky toffee in the Post Office or the Custom House?” he asked, adding that the levy was better than adding tax to beer, houses or horse racing.

When reached for comment, Fine Gael’s leader Enda Kenny expressed outrage.

“There are many ways to show patriotism,” he said. “Perhaps it’s true that Mr. de Valera liked tea while Michael Collins enjoyed the odd coffee with two sugars, but it is completely inappropriate to settle old grievances in a time of national economic crisis.”

Eamon Gilmore of Labour agreed, stating that working families will be left with a sour taste in their mouths.

“The majority of coffee drinkers are clerical workers on a deserved break or labourers stopping at their local shop for a breakfast roll and coffee,” he said. “This government is bereft of ideas and is collapsing faster than a chocolate souffle.”

The Green Party, however, is enthusiastic about the proposal from their government partners. Trevor Sargent explained that most coffee is not Fairtrade and that each molecule of sugar contains six carbon atoms.

“I would be delighted if we could all switch to un-sweetened, herbal tea,” he said, “ideally from plants grown organically in your back garden.”

Note after the fact: This was posted for April Fools.
Related article here.

A Web of Connectivity

 There’s been so much talk in Ireland recently about prices and about cutting back – companies cutting their cost base and consumers reducing their spend. While this is natural in a recession, and while both consumers and companies have to adjust their outlays to match their means, it doesn’t mean that everything has to be cheap or that it needs to come from abroad, where cost are much lower. There are cheap alternatives out there, and the number of them will no doubt increase as people look for bargains. However, there is still a very human need to treat ourselves from time to time.

That’s, I think, where the small Irish food producer comes in. There are Irish food products that, in my opinion, stand up to any around the world. These products, including cheeses, chocolates, speciality meats, and fish can provide that treat, not only here but abroad, and I am hoping the companies making them will do well even as the economy contracts. My brother and I lived through a recession in the US, and it was generally companies positioned at the top and bottom of the scale that survived while those in the middle suffered. Discounters flourished, but so did small, high quality artisan food producers. 

One of the benefits to the small producers doing well was that they were more likely to buy locally produced ingredients, supporting their local economies and building a web of excellent ingredients and products. We live on a small island, and we are well suited to do the same, but the choices we make will be critical. Not only do I believe that we should be pushing harder to improve both the quality and appreciation of Irish foods, but we need to be building that web by connecting food suppliers and producers and doing more to support each other. For ourselves, for example, choices like buying Kerry Cow milk from Colm (photo above), stocking top quality Irish chocolates, and insisting on local free range eggs will make a difference. Such choices benefit both the Irish economy and the options available to ourselves as consumers.  

There is no question that as a country we will have to find savings where possible, and that there will be less money to spend. By spending it wisely, however, we can support those Irish food producers we think deserve it, build toward a quality future, and ensure Ireland is synonymous with food excellence.

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Spring Cleaning and Irish Food Blogs

scrubbing I have to admit that between getting the business ready for the season, adding the odd blog post, twittering away, and just simply trying to get through huge volumes of emails, I’ve been very bad about both keeping up with other people’s blogs and maintaining my links.

Today, however, I did a bit of blog spring cleaning, and I thought that with Patrick’s Day coming up, I’d share some of my favourite Irish food blogs:

The Beer Nut, Bibliocook, Cheap Eats, Daily Spud, English Mum, Good Mood Food Blog, Fairy Cake Heaven, Healthy Irishman, Italian Foodies, John McKenna, Look and Taste, Martin Dwyer, Messy Chef, Oliver Moore, Ruth’s Kitchen Experiments, Stuff Yer Bake, Ummera, Val’s Kitchen, Well Done Fillet, Wine: Bubble BrothersCurious Wines, Sour Grapes and Robert Francis Wines.

Happy reading!

PS. I’m always delighted to link to Irish food blogs, so please leave a comment if you’re not in my links!

Twitter, twitter, tweet

cormorant Although I have been blogging for some years now, I have been a bit slow to embrace some of the other new media, such as Twitter. One of the reasons, I suppose, is that it’s hard enough to cope with the volumes of email coming at me already and to try to keep this site current and interesting (on top of making ice cream, etc.). 

Still, I can’t stand the idea of everyone else out there having fun and me being left out, so I’ve decided to give it a go! We will see where it takes me. For anyone interested, I’m @ kieranmurphy. Follow me, I’ll follow you! (My brother and partner in ice cream is here, by the way.)

As part of my Spring internet housekeeping, I’ve also finally put up a Murphys Ice Cream page up on Facebook, so if you want to contact us via Facebook or become a fan, check us out here.

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Sour Grape and 20 Other Irish Flavours

I’m sure everybody knows about the Ben & Jerry Yes, Pecan Obama-homage flavour that made the rounds of the internet last year. Lately, there’s been flavour ideas for departed President Bush including some of my favourites:  Nut’n Accomplished, Abu Grape, Cluster Fudge, Iraqi Road, Chock ‘n Awe, WireTapioca, imPeachmint, and Chunky Monkey in Chief. 

That got me thinking about what ice cream flavour would best explain the current Irish predicament. Here are 20 of my ideas. I’d love to hear your own suggestions (or your favourite one of these). Maybe we can do something with them!

20 New Irish Ice Cream Flavours

1. Housing Bubblegum Burst

2. Berry Berry Pear-shaped

3. Lychee Levy

4. Half-baked Financiers

5. Lenihan Lemon Curdle

6. Newry Cream-in’ it

7. sourgrape-smCowan Fudge-in’ it

8. Bread and Watermelon

9. Sour Grape

10. Rum Raisin Write-Off

11. Repossessed Car-amel

12. Lime Your Pockets

13. Golden Melon Handshake

14. Dark, Dark Chocolate

15. Anglo Irish Apple Crumble

16. Purple Plum Patch

17. Scary Cherry Credit Crunch

18. Sticky Taxy Toffee

19. Honey, I’m Home All Day

20. Mint Thin Soup

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