By SAM BUTLER
Food innovator Alastair Bell received an early Christmas ‘box’ last week in the shape of a novel application of his award-winning Irish Black Butter savoury spread arranged by one of Ireland’s leading supermarkets involving a tasty collaboration with another food business in the Republic.
Alastair’s successful Irish Black Butter is featured in a unique horseshoe ham treat for the Christmas table that went on sale this week in around 160 Aldi-Ireland stores across the Republic.
Aldi-Ireland launched its novel ‘Specially Selected Cook in the Bag Irish Black Butter Reduced Salt Horseshoe Ham’ in an eye-catching box.
The Christmas food box features ham from Connolly Meats in Scotstown, County Monaghan, along with a plastic jar of Irish Black Butter with instructions on how to use the spread, which is made from Armagh Bramley applies with spices and a touch of brandy, as a delicious glaze for the traditional festive meat.
“It’s a very exciting development for my small business,” says Alastair.
“I had been providing my savoury butter to the supermarket in the Republic for some time as part of its imaginative ‘Grow with Aldi’ scheme that supports smaller and artisan food businesses in the Republic and Northern Ireland.
“Aldi subsequently approached me to see if I would be interested in collaborating with them and Connolly Meats, another of their suppliers, on the creation of the new ham.
“I jumped at the opportunity to be an integral part of such an initiative that would help to raise the profile of Irish Black Butter throughout the Republic, a huge retail market,” he says.
He’s also delighted to be collaborating with Connolly’s Meats, a family run business that currently has three generations working together under the same roof, supplying high profile retailers in the Republic, such as Aldi, and in Great Britain.
“The collaboration is especially important because it is a development of my work to create new opportunities for the black butter, particularly in terms of new food ideas,” he adds.
Aldi taste tested the original Irish Black Butter glazed ham product in the Christmas Irish Quality Food Awards and gained a gold award for it.
Another recent boost for Irish Black Butter in the Republic was a decision by leading food distributor La Rousse Foods in Dublin to include the richly flavoured spread, which has won UK Great Taste Awards and Blas na hEireann awards for premium quality and outstanding taste, in its portfolio of foods for customers in hospitality and catering in both the Republic and Northern Ireland.