Longford bakery land double 'A' award

Kevin Forde

Reporter:

Kevin Forde

Email:

kevin.forde@longfordleader.ie

Goodness Grains

Jennifer Long, Maria Kelleher, Paul Diffley and Carmel Ellis of Goodness Grains Bakery, Longford

Goodness Grains Gluten Free Bakery was set up in 2013 to bring a quality Gluten Free product range to the Coeliac Consumer in Ireland and UK.

The company received some great news in recent days when they achieved an AA grade in their British Retail Consortium (BRC) audit.

After first applying for BRC certification in 2018, Goodness Grains received a BRC grade of ‘B’, before the Longford-owned company obtained the highest grade possible this year, AA.

“In February 2013 we launched the product range at Cadex, but we had spent almost two years before that conducting research and developing the products,” Geraldine O’Shea, Marketing & NPD Manager of Goodness Grains, told the Leader.

The company was first set up by Longford man Michael Kelleher after he noticed a dramatic increase in gluten-free customers in his Dublin based restaurants, while there were very few bakeries supplying gluten free produce.

Together with a chef in one of his restaurants, who had previous experience baking gluten free products in Denmark, they began developing their range of baked goods for a two year period. All products produced during the first two years were tested and trialled by Coeliac focus groups.

“This process involved initially surveying Coeliacs to find out what GF products they most wanted to see on the supermarket shelf or restaurant menu, baking samples of such products, tasting sessions with our focus groups and incorporating their feedback to improve product and do whatever was needed to meet their standards,” Geraldine explained.

“We still go back to our focus groups for their input as part of our core NPD process.”

In its eight years of business, the company has expanded its baking facility to a 20,000 sq ft plant and now employs twenty five people within the locality. Geraldine said the team are delighted at receiving the coveted grade and stated the double A award is the culmination of a lot of hard work.

“It was great,” said Geraldine of receiving the double A award.

“The BRC is the global standard. Last year we had our first audit and we achieved a 'B' grade, which we were delighted with for our first year.

“This year our target was an ‘A’ or maybe hoping quietly for an ‘AA’.

“It was just great. The BRC audit preparation was a huge amount of hard work for us as a small team.”

Geraldine wished to highlight the work carried out by Food Safety and Quality Manager, Maria Kelleher, in their quest for the AA grade.

“She took on the whole BRC project,” Geraldine said of Maria.

“She definitely deserves a mention.”

Going forward, Geraldine and the team at Goodness Grains Gluten Free Bakery, which is located at Longford Business Park, Ballinalee Rd, hope this new grade will enable them to push forward with their ambitious plans, which includes expansion into the UK markets. BRC accreditation, Geraldine explained, will open a lot more doors.

She explained; “It is a game changer for us, because it really allows us to go into other markets.

“Before major companies even speak to a producer, you have to have your BRC certification and an A grade at least.

“We can go to these companies now in complete confidence.”

The main aim for the future, as always, is continual improvement and progression.
Geraldine concluded: “Our focus is very much on the export market. We currently have many foodservices customers in the UK, but we have no retail presence there. Hopefully, the BRC accreditation will allow us to change that.

“But also we want to focus on mainland Europe. We do have a small presence in Europe, but we are very much focussed on growing this market also.”