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.
We caught up with two of them, Ryan Murphy from Shellfish Ireland and Colman Keohane of Keohane Seafoods, to find out about the importance of sustainable fishing – and just what it is that makes Irish seafood so good.
Ryan Murphy, Shellfish Ireland
Based in the fishing village of Castletownbere in West Cork, Shellfish Ireland is renowned for its high quality seafood. Its Simply Better Irish crab is caught in the Atlantic ocean, one of the naturally richest and purest fishing grounds in Europe. Shellfish Ireland receives daily supplies from its own fishing fleet which enables the team to process the catch at its freshest in Castletownbere. “The company is a fourth-generation family shellfish processing company,” Ryan Murphy (pictured above with chef Neven Maguire) explains. “It was started by my dad in 1987. He learned fishing from his dad and his dad learned fishing from his dad so fishing has always been in the family’s blood. Today we have a large factory - we employ about 150 people.”
Shellfish Ireland has worked with Dunnes Stores Simply Better for eight years and Ryan says the business has gone from strength to strength as a result, boosting sales and increasing staff. “We have a great working relationship with the Simply Better team,” Ryan notes. “They don’t do problems, they just do solutions if any issues come up and quality has always been at the forefront.” Ryan and the team supply Irish crab meat and crab claws to the Simply Better range.
“All our crab is Irish crab and is managed by a fisheries improvement programme with VeriFact and Bord Iascaigh Mhara,” he says. “The crab is also collected in a pot; it’s selective fishing that doesn’t just catch everything.”As for why Irish seafood is some of the best in the world, Ryan puts it down to our location. “We’re at the tip of Europe and we have one of the cleanest waters in the world so there’s a good flow of fresh water and plankton. There’s a lot of food where we’re located as a country and that definitely has something to do with the better taste of Irish shellfish.”
Colman Keohane, Keohane Seafoods
Keohane Seafoods in Bantry, Co Cork supplies the Dunnes Stores Simply Better range of Organic
Irish Salmon Darnes. Its salmon is organically farmed off the west coast of Ireland in the waters of the Atlantic Ocean. The company selects the best farms to ensure the highest standard of quality and full
traceability from tide to table.
Keohane Seafoods was set up by Mike Keohane and Colman and Brian, his sons, back in 2010. Not long after starting the company, they began a successful partnership with Dunnes Stores. “We’ve grown to having two facilities now and Dunnes is a huge part of that,” Colman says, “We’re long-term partners.
“We see ourselves as a very fast-paced, progressive and innovative company,” he continues. “And if you’re working with Dunnes you need to be fast-paced and you need to be innovative. I think both businesses complement each other.” Keohane Seafoods supplies a number of products to the Dunnes group, and
seven products to the Simply Better range in particular. They include a range of prawns and a salmon collection that includes the standout organic Irish salmon darnes.
Sustainability is a big part of the Keohane Seafoods ethos and the company is part of Origin Green.
There is also a major focus on the importance of the resource the Keohanes have on their doorstep: the
sea. “The sea is a huge resource to us for food and leisure and everything else,” Colman explains. “We’re very conscious of maintaining that natural resource. I think it’s very important to rural communities.”
Keohane Seafoods endeavours to source all sustainable seafood for the company as a whole and everything it supplies to Simply Better is organic or accredited. “Our factory sits on the Wild Atlantic and all the fish that we supply to Simply Better comes from that resource,” Colman says. The Wild Atlantic may be credited with providing that top quality Irish salmon but as Coleman points out that’s not quite the full story. “There isn’t a product like Irish organic salmon in the world,” he says, “Its quality is down to the waters, the processes and the care of the individuals involved.”