Balla-based Cuinneog, producer of Irish farmhouse country butter and buttermilk, has reported exceptional growth in 2010. Sales are up by an impressive 12 per cent and the locally-owned business has begun exporting to the UK and to Italy.
“We are very proud of this level of growth in such challenging times,” said Tom Butler, founder of the family business. “Cuinneog products are now on sale in two of the UK multinationals, Waitrose and ASDA, making the butter and buttermilk available in the UK, as well as all over Ireland of course. We’re fortunate in having the capacity to increase production to meet these new market demands.”
Cuinneog can be found in all major retail groups including Tesco, Dunnes Stores, Superquinn, SuperValu, Costcutters and Euro Spar. Artisan shops throughout the country carry Cuinneog products. The buttermilk in particular is widely used in the restaurant and catering trade.
Cuinneog hit the headlines recently as winner of a coveted Great Taste Gold Award for its farmhouse butter and as winners of an EirGrid Euro-Toques Food Award.
Tom and Sheila Butler set up Cuinneog in 1990 at Shraheens, Balla, Castlebar, Co Mayo. The family were already producing farmhouse butter and buttermilk for their own use, so starting an artisan business was a natural way to supplement their farm income.
Butter making has been in both families for generations, and they still use old family recipes. Their first commercial product was made using a traditional wooden churn. which gave its name to the new business – “cuinneog” is the Irish word for churn. That churn is still a treasured possession, but no longer used.
The company employs eight people and makes a significant contribution to the local economy through wages and purchase of raw materials. Growth plans for this year include expanding the UK market and breaking into the French market.