In 2016 Clandeboye Estate won both best in County Down and Gold for their Greek Style Yoghurt. You can find out more about Clandeboye on their website or find more details on great producers from Co Down and across Ireland in our directory of Irish Food & Drinks award winners & finalists in 2016
When & why did you start your business?
We started our business in 2007 to add value to the milk we were producing on the farm, we had to decide if we should increase herd numbers dramatically and farm more intensively or if we could find another way to make the farm pay. Our preference was to stick with our small pedigree herds and produce quality not quantity. So our adventure into yoghurt production began.
Who is your food inspiration?
I am generally inspired by great local products. I respect anyone who is trying to make best use of local ingredients and produce real high quality products. There are so many examples across Ireland it wouldn’t be fair to pick one or two.
What do you love about your job?
I love hearing people say how much they enjoy our products, maybe even that it is the best yoghurt they have ever tasted. There is also a massive satisfaction in knowing you have grown a business from zero to having your products available in everywhere from Fortnum & Mason to all Aldis across Ireland!
What is your typical day?
There is no such thing as a typical day! In a small food business, I can be in work processing yoghurt at the start of the day then out meeting a buyer and then back doing a bit of maintenance in the evening. It is the epitome of Jack of all trades.
What was your best day since you started this business?
There have been a few good days in amongst all the hard work. In 2016 we won both 3 stars in the GTAs and the much coveted Blas na hEireann Gold. Days like those are amazing, particularly as you increase production and can know you are maintaining or even improving quality. The other big one would be when after a couple of hard years’ work you produce annual accounts which actually show a healthy return.
Where do your ingredients come from?
We are very lucky all the milk which is our main ingredient comes from our own farm. We use a blend of Jersey and Holstein milk from our pedigree herds to make our yoghurt. It is so much easier to make a great finished product if you start with great ingredients!
Tell us about the people you work with
I am lucky to work with Lady Dufferin who owns Clandeboye Estate, she has a real passion for the Estate and everything connected to it. She actually had the original idea of producing yoghurt and is massively supportive of all we do. The team itself is small with myself and about 6 others including Luke and Michal who put so much work into making sure we produce an excellent product.
What three words would you use to describe yourself?
Dedicated, obsessed and likeable.
What do you think is the key to success?
For us it has been doing one thing and doing it really well and efficiently. We just make yoghurt, we don’t diversify into other products, we use a distributor to deliver and control logistics. I think it is so important to make a product you are really proud of and can put in front of anyone with confidence, if you get distracted with other things this can be really difficult.
Has there ever been one single moment which has changed how you look at your business?
Something my father told me a few years ago had a real impact. He said in business you should always work up to a standard and not down to a price. I think this is fantastic advice particularly for any food business.