Just two short years after its first product launch in the UK and Ireland, East Coast Bakehouse is now selling into 22 countries around the world

An overnight success story in food manufacturing terms, East Coast Bakehouse should be proud of what has been achieved in the two years since the company launched its first products.

Working on the Field of Dreams premise of “If you build it, they will come”, the company started big, raising €20m (£17.8m) in finance and investing in a large facility in Drogheda, Co Louth, with plenty of room for future expansion.

There are three sources of business, the East Coast Bakehouse brand, contract manufacturing and private label. Unusually for a food manufacturer, the company makes its innovations immediately available to private label customers.

“We’re trying to maintain a healthy balance in all three sectors,” says Commercial Director Daragh Monahan. “We’re very excited about our products, and the feedback from retailers and consumers has been extremely positive.”

Sowing the seeds
The company was established by five experienced Directors, all former owners of Jacobs in Ireland. Having sold this business in 2011, they regrouped in 2015 with the idea of bringing biscuit manufacturing back to Ireland, with collectively more than 100 years’ experience in the sector.

A world-class facility
An old engineering facility in Drogheda was transformed into a 50,000 sq ft state-of-the-art manufacturing facility, financed through the banks, Enterprise Ireland and the Directors’ own investment.

The manufacturing equipment installed includes what is believed to be the largest biscuit oven in Europe, at 80m long and 1.5m wide.

“The oven size allows us to manufacture using the finest ingredients, but also at scale, so we can be very competitive,” explains Daragh Monahan. “We believe we’re the first to immediately attain a double A BRC accreditation, and we’re also RSPO certified for sustainable palm oil and UTZ certified.”

Product launch
The first products were launched in 2016; the majority made with Irish butter instead of palm oil, for taste and environmental reasons.

“Our initial thinking was we would establish our brand as a showcase of our capabilities,” says Daragh Monahan. “Then Brexit happened and stalled lots of conversations we were having with UK retailers with regards to private label manufacturing. So we started focusing more on our brand, and now it’s available in 22 countries around the world.”

Customers across the globe
The company has seen success in Ireland and has made significant inroads in the UK, with five products listed in Morrisons stores.

The export market includes the US and mainland Europe, along with countries further afield, such as Saudi Arabia, Nigeria and Kenya. A UK company, Tudor Rose International, has helped East Coast Bakehouse to secure new markets in places they might otherwise have struggled to access, such as Barbados, Cyprus and the Faroe Islands.

Innovation and NPD
The business has attracted a strong team of people working in quality control and NPD, with innovation at the heart of everything it does. One of the company’s USPs is that there is no “brand agenda”.

“Traditionally, biscuit manufacturers bring out an innovation under their brand and only make it available for private label retailers after, typically, two or three years,” says Daragh Monahan. “We’ve set ourselves up completely differently. We have an innovation centre in our bakehouse, where we invite retailers from across Europe, and those innovations will be immediately available to them.”

A number of granola SKUs with around 10% protein have been launched and there are plans to develop products delivering up to 25% protein. The breakfast biscuit category is seen as ripe for innovation, as well as other reduced-sugar products.

“It’s very difficult to introduce a sugar-free product that tastes good into the market but it’s not difficult to reduce sugar content,” says Daragh Monahan. “With further sugar taxes likely, retailers are keen to look at reduced-sugar innovations. People walk down the biscuit aisle because they want a treat so products have to taste good, and we believe we are well placed to deliver that.”

Looking ahead
As the owners of the business, the Directors are able to make decisions on a day-to-day basis, without levels of bureaucracy, and there are no legacy costs in the business.

The plan is to continue to demonstrate the company’s products and capabilities at shows like PLMA and ISM every year, while increasing marketing activity in the UK.

At present the facility can produce up to 20,000 tonnes of biscuits per annum on one oven line, but there’s capacity to increase that fourfold.

“In the future I see the business reaching a turnover of £50m-£60m, with a healthy mix of contract manufacturing and private label, and leaving a mark on the industry that Ireland is a very credible and efficient biscuit manufacturing place.”

Tel: 00353 1244 0680
Email: [email protected]


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