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Meet The Makers: O’Donnells Crisps

By Donna Ahern
Meet The Makers: O’Donnells Crisps

Following the runaway success of its latest limited-edition flavours, O’Donnells Crisps is excited about its innovative NPD that will be hitting the shelves this month, as well as a new and varied multipack offering. Maev Martin reports.

When Ed O’Donnell established O’Donnells Crisps back in June 2010 he wanted to make crisps from the potatoes grown on the family farm in Co Tipperary. Shortly after the launch of the business, he did an interview with a national newspaper and told the journalist that if he could get a 1% share of the crisps market in Ireland he would be delighted.

Fast forward to June 2021, and O’Donnells Crisps now has over 13% of the crisps market.

“We have experienced rapid growth every year since we established the brand and we have been the number one brand in the hand cooked crisps category since we entered the market,” says Ed’s sister, Kate O’Donnell. Snacking is big business, and it is an area that has really taken off during the pandemic.

“The total savoury snacks market in Ireland is worth about €300 million (NielsenIQ) – O’Donnells Crisps have enjoyed phenomenal growth ahead of the market and there is no sign of this abating,” she says.

O’Donnell’s core range of crisps comprises six flavours, but every now and then they produce limited edition flavours.

“These really reinvigorate the category and retailers love to see them on their shelves as they give their customers something new to try, while representing an opportunity for us to test new flavours in the market,” says Kate.

“For example, the Ballymaloe Relish and Cheddar Cheese Flavour was originally a limited- edition flavour. We worked on it for three years to get it right and it is now in our core range and our number-three best-selling product (Cheese and Onion and Salt and Vinegar crisps are their two top sellers), so that was a runaway success.”

Another limited-edition product that is proving popular with consumers is O’Donnells Black Pudding Flavour. “This product has been so well received,” she says. “The
inherent Irishness in black pudding complements the local, Irish foundations of O’Donnells so well. We will continue to roll out limited edition flavours in the future, researching the very best ingredients to bring to the market to entice consumers and to help retailers to grow the category.”

O’Donnells Furrows

However, the continued success of O’Donnells limited edition flavours is merely a prelude to their big launch for 2021 – O’Donnells Furrows, which will be available on retailers’ shelves nationwide this month. “The market for crinkle cut hand cut crisps has enjoyed significant growth in recent years, so we are delighted to offer the consumer more choice with the O’Donnells Furrows brand of crinkle cut crisps,” says Ed.

“These crisps will be available initially in cheese and onion and salt and vinegar flavours, and in sharing and impulse formats. Our consumer taste tests on the two initial flavours have been overwhelmingly positive, so we are very excited about this latest innovation.”

The launch of O’Donnells Furrows will be supported by an ATL communications campaign, store activations and a PR campaign, as well as on O’Donnells social media platforms. “The campaign, which started last month, is all about driving awareness of the O’Donnells brand in a fun, engaging and memorable manner to ensure that the brand is recognised for superior quality and taste,” says Kate.

“The campaign starts with a series of TV stings broadcast on Virgin Media where we are sponsoring Virgin Movies, and we are also running radio ads. The new TV ads are very different from our previous ads. While this new campaign includes our provenance story, it also has a comedy element which we are hoping will be fun for the viewers who will see Ed, the taste master, searching for the best flavours and ingredients for our crisps. Our campaign motto is ‘taste above all else’, which really reinforces our commitment to producing the best tasting, quality products.”

Multipack Re-Launch

Despite the lifting of the restrictions to ordinary life, there is likely to be a re-assessment of the work life balance, with many companies now opting to facilitate a hybrid working model for their staff. In addition, many people have discovered the joy of spending more time at home since the pandemic hit, including the joy of home entertaining.

“Having to stay at home during lockdown has reinforced the need for us to have comfort at home and food is a huge part of that,” says Kate.

“People have been seeking out quality snack products such as O’Donnells Crisps to treat themselves at home during the pandemic. Our bigger share bag saw huge sales increases, prompting a speedy adaptation from a production perspective to accommodate this trend," she says.

"When people return to offices, they will want to bring with them some of the food they have enjoyed at home for lunchtime or afternoon snacking so, with that in mind, we are re- launching our multipack range over the next few weeks. It will comprise our three best-selling flavours in a mixed multipack, with two Cheese and Onion, Salt and Vinegar and Ballymaloe Relish and Cheese. We will also be launching a six-pack Cheese and Onion.”

2021 is also proving to be a busy year for O’Donnells on the packaging front and will see them updating their pack design to reduce the environmental impact of the range. “We will reduce the film on our crisps packs by 18% on

both our impulse and sharing ranges, and we will reduce the multipacks by 30%,” says Ed. O’Donnells are also investing in a 3,000-tonne store, located at their site in Tipperary, to store all their potatoes. The new store will open towards the end of 2021 or early 2022.

Local Ingredients Pioneer

Launching a premium product amid a deep recession was, on the face of it, a gamble. However, consumers wanted to buy local, and the farmers markets opened and did great business during that time so, as it turned out, O’Donnells Crisps’ timing could not have been better.

“Everyone wanted to know about this new product that a 27-year-old farmer who was growing potatoes in Tipperary had decided to bring to the market,” says Kate.

“Ed went to college in the UK and saw a lot of English brands that were being sold in Ireland and decided that he would create an Irish version."

 © 2021 Checkout – your source for the latest Irish retail news. Article by Maev Martin.  Click sign up to subscribe to Checkout.


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