No ordinary onions from Coleraine

Famed chef Jean Christophe Novelli gave Scott’s Crispy Onions from Aghadowey, near Coleraine, the ‘ thumbs up’ when he visited the company’s presentation at last year’s big Royal Ulster Agricultural Show at Balmoral Park.

Novelli, who is soon to open a high-end restaurant at the new Marriott Hotel at City Quays on the Belfast waterfront, was at Balmoral as a guest of Food NI. Scott’s Crispy Onions was among over 100 food and drink companies in the successful food pavilion.

Scott’s Crispy Onions has just achieved BRC accreditation and refreshed its branding to grow sales in the Republic of Ireland and Great Britain. Novelli’s visit to the stand was a tremendous boost for the business that began producing unique ready to eat crispy onions in 2013.

Scott’s has since become the leading supplier of convenient crispy onions to retailers and caterers on the island of Ireland and is keen to develop new opportunities identified in Great Britain.

Managing director Richard Scott says the rebrand, which emphasises that its products are NO ORDINARY ONIONS, has given its range of crispy onions “a bolder, fresher and eye-catching presence on the shelves of supermarkets, independent grocers, delis and butchery businesses in existing markets”.

“It will assist us in the British marketplace in particular. It gives our products a ‘wow’ factor which should attract shoppers,” he said.

“Achieving BRC accreditation for all our systems, processes and products is an immensely important stage in our development and will enhance our efforts to grow business with major retailers in the UK and Republic of Ireland. The Republic has grown to 40 per cent of our sales.”

The rebrand by Part Two in Belfast, a leading design and marketing consultancy providing expert brand creation and marketing services to food businesses throughout the UK and Ireland, represents an £80,000 investment and covers all aspects of the small business, including corporate information, website and vehicle livery.

Ian Bennington, Part Two managing director, explaining the thinking behind the rebrand, says: “Scott’s was the first to create a consumer retail version of a product that had long been popular in restaurants and known as ‘Tobacco Onions’.

“Having perfected the product in plain and flavoured variants, Scott’s marketed these in a tray with clear film and a simple label.

“As distribution grew, founder Richard Scott wanted to upgrade the brand and its presentation and retained Part Two to create a more dynamic shelf presence.

“We introduced a card sleeve to add quality and devised a much stronger Scott’s branding and the catchy proposition NO ORDINARY ONIONS which was amplified by the diagonal red stroke treatment.

“The new packaging made everything more legible, increasing shelf presence considerably and the shelf-ready cartons gave greater standout.

“As a trial product aimed at the on-trade and retail snack sector, we created a small format bag version with the proposition NO ORDINARY NIBBLES and this goes very well as a snack with beer, etc,” he added.

The progressive food processor now has four flavours of crispy onions – Original, Steak, Smokey Bacon and Sweet Chilli – in 90g retail packs and 1.6kg tubs for caterers. The crispy onions developed from the wholesale fruit and vegetable business started by Sydney B Scott, Richard’s father, in 1955.

Scott’s Crispy Onions is the brainchild of Richard and his team. They realised the growing popularity of tobacco onions in Northern Ireland hotels and restaurants and decided to develop a product that was more convenient for chefs and especially for home cooks than having to fry onions.

“We realised that people enjoyed the tobacco onions in restaurants and many wished to make their own at home, which can be a bit messy. So, we set out to make crispy onions more convenient and easier to enjoy. And we found that chefs in restaurants were interested in the quality of our products and the flavour varieties we had created. We also expanded the flavours,” Mr Scott continues.

Five years on and working from a new purpose-built factory with 16 people, Scott’s Crispy Onions has expanded to four flavours of ready to eat onions.

The company’s clients in Northern Ireland include all the main retail and foodservice distributors and are available in both retail and catering packs across all the main brand retailers across the country.

The company’s growing success is based on long running relationships with suppliers, including in Spain, reckoned to be a source of the best and sweetest onions.

The company hand-peels, seasons and cooks the onions to ensure consistent product quality. The crispy onions do not contain any artificial colours or preservatives. They are cooked in rapeseed oil, which means they contain less than half the fat of those made with olive oil. Low in saturated fat and high in monounsaturated fats, rapeseed oil is a key source of Omega 3, containing around 10 times more than olive oil.

The innovative products are increasingly winning significant business in the Republic.

Scott’s Crispy Onions are now sold in the Republic of Ireland in SuperValu, Centra (both under own brand), Spar and shortly in Tesco Ireland outlets.

In addition, the company has its own representatives in Dublin and Tipperary who supply most butchers throughout the country.

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