By Sam Butler
CRISPY onions – tobacco onions in restaurants – are fast becoming a popular choice as a healthy snack-on-the-go here, especially for lovers of plant-based foods. Now a range of snack pots is the latest outcome of a focus on innovation by an enterprising and successful Coleraine company.
Scott’s Crispy Onions, which is based at Aghadowey, County Londonderry, has recently launched convenient snack pots on the back of its outstanding success in creating a range of crispy onion flavours.
The richly flavoured onions are on sale throughout Northern Ireland, many parts of the Republic of Ireland, including retail leader Dunnes Stores, and into Scotland and England.
The crispy onions, furthermore, have been exported to major supermarkets in the Netherlands and even as far as Australia – an inspirational local success story.
Headed by managing director Richard Scott, the company’s strategic focus on innovation includes new gluten free crispy onions, another ‘first to market’ product. The entrepreneurial company is now the market leader and was the first to create crispy onion products, marketed as ‘No Ordinary Onions’.
“Food is a fast moving and intensely competitive industry that’s driven by consumer tastes and requirements. We endeavour to stay ahead in our sector by coming up with new taste experiences and product formats which make our crisply onions as easy as possible to enjoy,” he adds.
He’s excited, in particular, by the existing achievements and future potential of the handy snack pots.
“The snack pots have become extremely popular as an alternative to chocolates, other sweets, popcorn, crisps and nuts. The handy and convenient pots now account for around 15 per cent of our business … and are continuing to go strongly with people on the go due to their convenience and outstanding flavours.”
The company, which employs around 20 people, began producing unique ready-to-eat crispy onions in 2013. The onions, which can be eaten hot or cold, are produced fresh daily to ensure consistent restaurant quality for professional chefs and home cooks.
The idea was influenced by a local chef, Darren Watt, who had seen the popularity of tobacco onions with diners ordering steaks or burgers. He suggested the company, then a hugely successful distributor of fresh vegetables and fruit, should make its own version for restaurants and home cooks eager to include a tobacco onion-style taste to meals.
“We realised that people enjoyed tobacco onions in restaurants and many wished to try making their own at home, which can be a bit messy. So, we set out to make crispy onions more convenient and easier for everyone to enjoy. And we soon found that chefs in restaurants were keen on the quality of our products and the flavour varieties we have created,” Richard continues.
This interest led to the development of special catering packs for the hospitality trade to add to steaks, burgers and other dishes. As well as being essentially plant-based, the crispy onions are suitable for vegans and vegetarians and are now also gluten-free.
The products are now found in the network of farm shops, delis, independent grocers, family butchers and convenience stores throughout the island of Ireland. Major food businesses in England, Scotland and the Netherlands now sell the crispy onions.
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