Knockanore Farmhouse Cheese who are supported by Local Enterprise Office Waterford were winners at this year’s National Enterprise Awards. The awards, which took place virtually and were broadcast online from the Mansion House in Dublin, are in their 22nd year and run annually by the Local Enterprise Offices.
Knockanore Farmhouse Cheese took home the Brexit Ready award, which was presented to the company for excelling in their preparation for Brexit particularly where it would have created specific challenges for them as a business. The raw milk artisan cheddar cheese producer’s impressive response to Brexit has seen them actually grow their business on the back of the UK leaving the EU, accessing new markets.
Founded by Eamonn and Patricia Lonergan, the west Waterford company produces a variety of hard-pressed mature farmhouse cheeses using raw milk, red and white cheddars, as well as the famous Oakwood smoked cheddar. With a 170-strong top-class pedigree Friesian milking herd, Eamonn’s USP is a top-quality cheese, made from raw milk from a single herd.
Today, Knockanore Farmhouse Cheese products are sold via distributors to major retail chains, independent retailers, and the food service sector in Ireland as well as to customers in UK, Europe, UAE, and US.
Eamonn Lonergan said, “We were up against some great innovative companies, so it really was a huge vote of confidence to receive the Brexit Ready award. While many view Brexit as a challenge, we saw it as an opportunity.”
“Almost two-thirds of all the cheese imported to Ireland comes from the UK. Brexit has led to supply chain disruption, so we seized on that opportunity by creating new ranges of the particularly popular UK blended cheeses such as crumble style cheeses similar to Wensleydale and a naturally smoked pasteurised cheddar as a possible substitute to the famous English ‘Applewood’ to fill that new gap in the Irish market.”
“It’s not just Ireland that is experiencing the consequences of Brexit. The same supply issues are being experienced across Europe and further afield. That gave us the impetus to develop new products and new markets in areas such as Lithuania, Germany and France. For us, Brexit has been about turning a negative into a huge positive.”
Richie Walsh, Head of Enterprise at Local Enterprise Office Waterford applauded Knockanore Farmhouse Cheese on its achievement. “It has been a challenging year for small businesses, so this is a momentous accomplishment for Eamonn and his team. Throughout the years Eamonn has innovated, evolved, and enhanced his product offering.”
“For many businesses Brexit has been a huge stumbling block, but in Eamonn’s case, his forward planning, vision and determination to overcome obstacles has seen him grow his business, his customer base and his export markets, while not losing sight of the company’s integrity and traditional values.”
“Knowing Eamonn, this accolade will only spur him on to looking at ways to further advance his business, develop more new artisan cheese ranges and proactively explore new markets and Local Enterprise Office Waterford is looking forward to continuing to support Knockanore Farmhouse Cheese to grow and thrive”.
The overall winner at the National Enterprise Awards was Mullingar mobile craft canning company, Bevcraft. Established in 2016 by friends Ciaran Gorman and Darren Fenton the company has gone from strength to strength. They now work with over 250 brands to can their produce using their mobile canning technology. They are operating across 5 European countries and in 2021 aim to handle over 50million cans.
Announcing the awards virtually from the Mansion House, Minister English said, “The awards are an opportunity to celebrate the sheer talent, determination and success which exists in Irish businesses. The winners tonight are outstanding companies and, along with all the finalists, are trailblazers for every small business and budding entrepreneur across the country. I have no doubt that the companies here will continue to grow their businesses, create more jobs and make a significant contribution to their local economies. The foundations of the Irish economy are built on by small businesses and through these awards we can recognise their valuable role in society.”
The National Enterprise Awards are one of a number of initiatives that the Local Enterprise Offices run, to foster entrepreneurship across the country. Others include Local Enterprise Week, the Student Enterprise Programme, and National Women’s Enterprise Day. The Local Enterprise Offices in local authorities are funded by the Government of Ireland through Enterprise Ireland.
Established in 2014, the Local Enterprise Offices are the essential resource for any entrepreneur looking to start a business or any small business that is looking for support or advice to help them grow. The LEOs work with over 7,000 client companies across Ireland in a diverse range of sectors offering mentoring, training, expert advice and financial supports to small businesses.
If you have a business idea or would like to grow your existing business, you can find out what supports are available from Local Enterprise Office Waterford. Call 0761 102905 or email firstname.lastname@example.org