Bringing Corkers to Cork – and the rest of the world
While taking potato products to Ireland might sound like taking coals to Newcastle, a crisp producer from Cambridgeshire is celebrating a surge in demand for its products in the country.
Ely-based Corkers Crisps has become the subject of a Twitter campaign in Ireland calling for “Cork to sell more Corkers” – started by a consumer who found the products weren’t stocked by enough retailers in the city. To help the campaign, Corkers is offering a special deal to the first 15 retailers to take up the offer.
This isn’t the first time the company has had interest from Ireland, as director Rod Garnham (pictured) explains: “We’ve sold our potatoes to shops and restaurants in Ireland for the last 90 years. They come all the way across England because of the unique soil we have that helps us grow potatoes of great quality, flavour and taste (the company won the Potato Grower of the Year Award last year).”
Rod describes the 10 mile radius around their 200 hectare farm as being “like the Loire Valley of potatoes.” This, he says, is down to the peaty soil created when the land was drained in the 1860s and which also contains the remains of 4,000-year-old trees.
“Nowhere else in the country – maybe the world – has soil like this, which is why the ‘land of potatoes’ comes to get our potatoes,” says Rod. Being the land of potatoes also makes the Irish great potato connoisseurs, he says. “Unlike here, in Ireland they’ll never put a frozen chip with meat. You’ll even find fresh handcut chips in Dublin Airport.”
Now that the crisps are also attracting attention Corkers doesn’t want to stop with Cork. “We already have a wholesaler in the south and have been on a trade mission to Ireland with UK Trade & Investment (UKTI). Rod said: “It’s early days but this is a good start.”
The handcooked crisps are also attracting attention further afield, including markets such as France, where they like quality foods but are not big crisp eaters.
“The total crisp category in French supermarkets is smaller than the hand-cooked category in the UK”, says Rod.
Other countries they are going into include South Korea, Germany, France, Denmark, Hong Kong and the US. To help it on its way the company has used the services of UKTI. This includes joining the Passport to Export programme, which provides new and inexperienced exporters with the training, planning and ongoing support with issues as they arise, such as understanding import taxes.
“Working with our international trade adviser, David Moir, has brought real benefit when it comes to understanding the markets,” says Rod. This has also included putting the company in contact with Embassies across the globe, including in Berlin where they supplied crisps for an event for the Queen’s birthday. The Great British Food Unit recently launched by the Department of Food & Rural Affairs has put an emphasis on food exports with its aim of ‘turbo-charging’ UK food exports.
David Moir adds: “Corkers are an ideal company to work with. Their enthusiasm is infectious as they promote a great quality product through its very British associations. UKTI has helped them to establish themselves across a number of international markets and no doubt we will help with many more.”
Corkers’ next aim is to approach overseas markets with a unique range of vegetable crisps.
“There are only two vegetable crisp manufacturers in the UK and we are the only one using our own vegetables,” explains Rod.