A NORTH Clare food company has picked up one of Ireland’s top business awards at a ceremony in Dublin. The Burren Smokehouse, Lisdoonvarna, was presented with the Seafood Exporter Award 2009 at the 2009 Exporter of the Year Awards held at the Concert Hall at the RDS in Dublin last Thursday.The Seafood Exporter Award 2009 recognises companies in the seafood sector that have made significant progress in securing and building export markets for Irish seafood.
Burren Smokehouse outshone companies like Glenmar Shellfish Limited and Ummera Smoked Products Limited to win the title. The North Clare company was acknowledged for its success in exporting 60% of its smoked organic and premium salmon, trout and mackerel to the USA, Europe and Japan.
Birgitta Hedin Curtin, proprietor of the Burren Smokehouse, said, “This was a particularly sweet award to get. It took me a little while to realise we deserved this. I always thought we were only a little place on the west coast of Ireland, which we are, but I thought a big business would get this. It is great to be recognised in this way as a small or medium enterprise and an artisan producer based in the west. It is wonderful that we can be the Seafood Exporter of the Year.”
Most of Burren Smokehouse’s exports are made up of orders from individual customers and corporate gifts. A number of customers place their orders on the website, some after visiting the area during the summer.
“A lot of our visitors, I suppose, are trying to re-order their experience. We are in a tourist area so we get a lot of people coming here. We have managed to extend the tourism season to Christmas in the sense that we are still selling people things after they have been here. It is all about sustaining oneself through the year. It is amazing what you can do in a regional setting. It is fantastic,” Birgitta continued.
The Burren Smokehouse had already won two awards this year, as well as three last year but this particular accolade stands out.
“This award is more to do with the quality of our service in combination with the quality of our food. A lot of the other awards were for taste but this is for the whole company, for every element of it,” she added.
Birgitta and her husband Peter have 15 staff in total. The Burren Smokehouse was the only Clare company shortlisted for the awards.
The overall winner on the night was Flahavan and Sons Limited from County Waterford. It was named the Irish Exporters Association’s overall Exporter of the Year Award 2009.