It’s that time of year when everyone can unleash their inner food judge. Grow with Aldi and SuperValu’s Food Academy are preparing to unleash their latest group of local food producers around the world after grooming them all for the bright rays of supermarket shelves across the country.
Aldi Ireland has unveiled 43 new products from 24 Irish suppliers for this year’s Grow With Aldi campaign, which kicked off on May 19 for two weeks. A diverse range of products from non-alcoholic mixers to bread mixes, black and white pudding roulade and fries, honey, peanut butter, coffee, herbal tea and a variety of condiments are just some of the products competing with each other for a spot on Aldi’s National Product List, from which up to six best-selling products will be selected. It’s like X-Factor for food, only tastier!
Cork is well represented this year by three producers. Hanley’s Puddings, The Sibly Food Co and White Rabbit BBQ.
Hanley’s Puddings is a family business established in 1957 and run by husband and wife team Anthony and Geraldine Considine. They do an award-winning black and white pudding roulade; what does it mean for them to participate in Grow With Aldi?
“Our journey with the Grow With Aldi program started in January and we found it to be an extremely positive experience,” says Anthony.
“We are proud to say that we make exceptionally good puddings, but bringing our product to market is a whole different challenge. With the support of Aldi, Hanley’s has grown, not only in terms of sales volume and turnover, but also in terms of marketing savvy and a deeper understanding of what the consumer really wants. Aldi even ran a special course to help us navigate the paperwork involved in dealing with a major multiple, which was a huge help!
The Sibly Food Co was founded by Matthew Collins in 2018 when he was 21, selling healthy treats from a rickety food stall at a Christmas market in Cork. Fast forward four years, and now he’s stocking shelves in 150 Aldi stores across Ireland with his range of protein balls!
“It has been a fantastic few months for The Sibly Food Co. since being selected for the Grow with Aldi program in February.
“There can be a perception that big retailers are hard to reach, but that couldn’t be further from my experience of how Aldi works. The team have been incredibly generous with their time and knowledge to support me. every step of the way as a small business owner from Cork.
For a small business like Matthew’s, this kind of opportunity can seem surreal. Producers have worked hard to get to a stage where they can be placed on those shelves and in the kitchens – and mouths – of thousands of eager consumers across Ireland.
In a nutshell, that’s what’s so great about programs like Grow With Aldi. But what happens after these two weeks, and all the numbers have been counted, and 37 products are unsuccessful. Then what ?
Try again next year, of course, or take what’s been learned and use it to keep pushing their business forward. Take White Rabbit BBQ for example. Stephen Vaughan founded the White Rabbit Bar and BBQ on MacCurtain Street in 2015 and has quietly gained a loyal following.
Essential homemade sauces became the first products to go through the Grow With Aldi program in 2021, and this year are back with cold smoked butter – a butter elixir with umami pow! And if we’ve learned anything over the past two years, it’s to pivot, flex, and use absolutely every tool in the box to get the most out of everything you’ve got. This is the White Rabbit way, as Stephen explains: “Our involvement in the Grow With Aldi program has been a game changer for White Rabbit and the production side of our business. This has allowed us to evolve our retail offering from what started as an offshoot of our restaurant business into a viable stand-alone business.
“It wasn’t a challenge we took on lightly, but having the Aldi team guiding us every step of the way made it a whole lot easier. This is the second time we’ve taken part. to the Grow With Aldi program, and although we have much more experience this time, the support provided by the program has been invaluable.
Four Cork food producers are also preparing for the launch, who are this year’s SuperValu Food Academy graduates. OTOFU makes artisan tofu from non-GMO organic soy; Malay Kitchen arrives with its delicious Thai pastas and sauces; The Good Dairy Co turns beautifully creamy milk into luxurious ice cream just in time for summer; and Kinsale Honey House who produce natural unpasteurized and unfiltered raw honey from their own beehives.
A study conducted by SuperValu revealed that 81% of customers said that local products played an important role in choosing the products they bought. The Covid pandemic has been cited as a catalyst for this intense focus to seek out, support and buy local foods.
This year, SuperValu is going the extra mile to highlight this demand to buy local food by launching a Taste of Local initiative across all stores, starting with this year’s Food Academy producers.