The Dunnes Stores Simply Better collection has a well-deserved reputation for award-winning food and drink. Behind the scenes it also champions small Irish producers, helping them grow while doing what they do best.
Ahead of his busiest time of the year, we spoke to Paul Hogan from Hogan’s Farm in Co Meath about the turkeys they supply to Simply Better and what makes them so special. Located in Cortown, Hogan’s Farm is second generation owned and operated. “My mum and dad started the business back in 1962 and we’ve been doing turkeys ever since,” Paul explains. “My mum started with turkeys as a hobby really - my father was a dairy farmer - and then the business grew from that over the years.”
Today it is managed by Paul and his brother Fintan along with their wives Sandra and Hilda and the business has a long-standing relationship with Dunnes Stores. “We started doing business with Dunnes Stores about 12 years ago,” Paul explains, “and when the Simply Better brand was developed we were brought on board, almost from the start, to do some products for them.”
The partnership sees Hogan’s supply over ten products to the Simply Better line. “Dunnes is our main anchor here as a business,” Paul says. “We’ve a great relationship with them - they get all our attention here at Christmas time.” It is indeed a busy time of year for the Hogan family and staff, with the farm providing a range of Heritage bronze turkeys to Dunnes Stores Simply Better. The Heritage Bronze Turkey is a unique breed of slow-growing bird that can develop and mature at a more natural pace.
Hogan’s Farm also supply Free Range Outdoor Reared Bronze Turkeys to the Simply Better range. These turkeys live out in the farm’s natural woodland surroundings and have the freedom to roam around day and night. “It’s just a different bird completely,” Paul says. “We have won several Blas na hEireann awards and Irish Food Awards with the products we produce for Simply Better,” Paul continues. “The first time we won, we were totally shocked, to be honest. It was a nice surprise.”
This year’s Simply Better range includes the Blas na hEireann award winning Heritage Bronze Fresh Irish Reared Turkey Breast with Cranberry, Apricot & Clementine Stuffing. “We do other products like ready-to-cook turkey breasts,” Paul says, adding, “We also do crowns for Simply Better and we would be well known for the quality of boned and rolled turkey we produce.”
While a classic whole turkey is still popular with Irish consumers, Paul notes that fuss-free products such as a turkey crown or boned and rolled turkey are becoming more popular. They’re a convenient option for smaller gatherings, or if not everyone in the family is a fan of turkey. “Turkey crowns and boned and rolled turkeys would be big sellers,” Paul says. “The whole bird is still up there but added value options are getting stronger every year.”
The turkeys are reared by the Hogans and are hand prepared on site by the business’ team of butchers. “There’s a lot of work in them, for example, the bacon lattice is done by hand,” Paul says. “There’s no machines doing any of it. From the outset the Simply Better team’s standards were very high and that’s the way they’re keeping it - and rightly so.”
In partnership with Dunnes Stores Simply Better