AN innovative Kildare firm has won a new contract to supply Aldi’s 137 Irish stores as part of its Grow with Aldi supplier development programme.
Products from The Irish Biltong Company, based in Naas, have gone on sale nationwide as part of an Aldi Specialbuys event which kicked off on Thursday 6 June, with shoppers introduced to their Original and Mild Chilli biltong beef snacks.
Participants also receive tailored mentoring and access to bespoke workshops with Aldi buyers and technical experts from Bord Bia – teaching them the skills to help grow and develop their products, brands and business.
CEO Noreen Doyle, who founded the company with her husband John, noted that the programme provides huge exposure for their brand and allows them to reach more shoppers than ever before, adding that the support and mentoring they’ve received has already benefited their business.
“It’s great to get the opportunity,” she told the Kildare Nationalist, adding that the programme supports small business and Irish produce, which is what they’re all about. “We employ locally, we only use locally-produced beef… [the] programme resonates with us hugely.”
The duo have a separate business called Haynestown Meats and have been in the meat industry for years. Noreen explained that it came to a stage where they were looking for something new and they came across biltong – a dried, cured meat that originated in South Africa.
“It just made sense to us to try it, to integrate the South African tradition with the Irish beef,” she said. “We put it out there, we tested it on the market and it got a huge and very positive response.”
The challenge of educating people about biltong took some time, but having started off in 2016 they went nationwide the following year and have grown substantially since, building a loyal customer base. Noreen puts a lot of that growth down to it being “a high protein, natural product when there’s such a drive on protein snack products. And there isn’t a huge availability of healthy snack products on the shelves, even still.”
The fact that they’re a family-run business, employ the personal touch and are very customer-orientated also helps. “We’ve built that trust with our customers so far,” she added, “and then for them to see Aldi take on a business like us reinforces the realness, I suppose, of what we do and what we’re about.”
Noreen explained that their short-term goal is to secure a permanent placing with Aldi and noted they’d like to encourage customers to support and buy local and Irish. Growing the business through exports is also key and they’re working with small groups in three different European areas.
At the end of the day, it’s all about having a good product.
“The key thing about biltong is the fact that it’s high in protein and it’s a very simple product,” she said. “People like that, they like the simplicity of it.”