Chef Matthew Brownie and The Skibbereen Food Company goes from Strength to Strength with his Scratch My Pork Snack Range
By Linda O’Leary
Five years in business and Matthew Brownie the Kiwi Chef who owns The Skibbereen Food Company (TSFC) gets his first International deal over in Wales in Pembrokeshire, (West Wales) with his four lines of Scratch My Pork Crackling Products.
A new website with an online shop, a new national distributor for retail, with Matthew looking after 25 places himself you wonder how he does it all. Matthew is also employed as a chef Monday to Friday with working part-time for The Simply Better Brand stationed at Dunne Stores in Bishopstown along with writing for The Irish Foodie Magazine.
How he does it is not important, but Matthew says a balance and putting his family first is the key to his working life. Matthew explains
“By dropping business when my family needs me is the key to myself moving forward. In other words, switching off altogether from all work and focusing on my family not only gives them me but gives me a break from everything. I’m much disciplined these days and I’m making sure I keep up with everything without putting things on the long finger. I’m doing things my way and doing business when I’m ready”
Going back 5 years when The Skibbereen Food Company Supplied Their First Local Stores
Fields Supervalu was Matthews’s first store and realises thanks to the local establishments and consumers without them there is nothing to move forward from. By supporting local stores with tastings and social media the Scratch My Pork range has been a success. Gordon Benn from Drinagh Co-op in Skibbereen also was a real great supporter of Scratch My Pork and both stores sell it and sell very well today.
The whole of Munster has been great and the Musgraves Food Academy gave me the opening needed to grow the company to where it is today on a national level.
Christmas 2018 Matthew was awarded funding form SECAD in conjunction with LEADER and the Cork County Council which is something very precious to TSFC. It allows Matthew a new product range that will be hitting the Irish Market in April 2020. Ross Curley from SECAD saw Matthew’s need for the funding which not only brings new product ranges aboard but employment into The Skibbereen Food Company in the future along with services needed and the expenditure spent within Ireland due to the funding given.
Wales and The BUCANIER Project
Matthew was approached by BIM at The Cork and Kerry Food Market at City Hall late last year and was offered a place on The BUCANIER Project which is an EU funded project that helps support’s SME’s with a connection with Pembrokeshire Tourism in Wale’s. An opportunity arose for a tradeshow in Pembrokeshire which TSFC attended and sealed a deal with Utpon Farm a few weeks later. Keith Adie from Upton Farm in Wales was delighted to take on Scratch My Pork and a great new partnership has formed not to mention the growth in other areas throughout the UK, thanks to Upton farm at The BUCANIER Project in the future.
Cork Institute of Technology
It marks almost 8 years since the idea of Scratch My Pork was created thanks to CIT and Matthew’s Culinary Arts Degree, due to his Product development Module where he also won The Best Business Plan at The CIT Innovation Award. Matthew was invited back in March for this year’s Innovation Week to talk to students based on his Journey of Becoming a Food Entrepreneur to help fellow students and to shed light on being food producer in Ireland.
The Skibbereen Food Company’s Business Model
TSFC business model is perhaps a different model to others within Ireland as Matthew manufactures his Scratch My Pork products in the UK and is delighted with how the module has formed. Matthew explains.
“I’m an outsourcing business and my products are created to my specifications. My model keeps changing due to my learnings and mistakes I have made, but I do know where my business is going. By keeping things where I can manage them is the way forward and I am delighted that my products are selling well in the Irish market.
A Recap on The Skibbereen Food Company’s Products (Scratch My Pork)
A clever name, branding & packaging, Scratch My Pork provides Irish consumers with a new and exciting alternative to crisps, bacon fries, and popcorn that is currently not available on the Irish market. Scratch My Pork is a delicious hand-cooked, Gluten, Dairy, MSG Free & Naturally High in Protein savoury snack in 4 distinct flavours. (Salted, Smokey, Salt & Vinegar, Cajun).
The Skibbereen Food Company’s Partner’s
A special thanks goes out to the following organisation’s that have helped TSFC where it is today:
/ AIB Bank /SECAD /LEADER /West Cork Development Partnership
/ Supervalu Ireland / Leo Cork City & North West Enterprise Board / FDC Group
/ BUCINAIER Project /Pembrokeshire Tourism Wales / O’Leary Insurance
The biggest challenge in Ireland for most food companies is food distribution. Matthew Explains
“I have to say it’s getting to a point where it’s time the module should change. I know companies that have lost their businesses due to bad distribution, non-payments to small food companies along with just bad distribution based on producer’s hard work to grow their brand.”
“You can’t rely on a distributor alone, and you have to keep an eye on everything. I work a Monday to Friday job to make sure my family is looked after and my business is dealt with after these hours. I make sure I spend time at night with my family every night and my weekends are mine.”
Some people may think that I should be running my business differently, but to be honest, they can think all they want, I do it in my time, my terms and when I’m ready.
The Future for The Skibbereen Food Company
“I am really happy where my company is today, but it has been hard work, personal sacrifices have been made with a lot of mistakes, but I have a good balance these days.”
I look to concentrate on the UK market going forward and my online sales along with looking after the Irish retailers that always helped me in the beginning.
Matthew is also delighted to announce that a new product range will be ready for the Irish Market early next year.
Small steps at a time, making sure my family comes first.