This year Focus Friday is teaming up with the SuperValu Food Academy to bring you the best new Irish food producers, and tell you all about their products. Today, we talk to Janet from Janet’s Just Delicious.
Can you tell us a bit about Janet’s Just Delicious?
Janet’s Just Delicious is a great range of 5 handmade pasta sauces produced in Kilcoole, Co. Wicklow. We also produce a pizza sauce and our well known range of Janet’s Country Fayre chutneys. Knowledge of our products has grown due to our involvement with the SuperValu Food Academy.
Our pasta sauces come in 5 different flavours Classic Roast Tomato, Basil & Roast Garlic, Roast Red Pepper & Rosemary, Roast Lemon & Thyme and Arrabiata Tomato & Chilli.
Janet’s Just Delicious is currently the only brand of pasta sauces on sale in SuperValu’s across Ireland with no added sugar or salt. We use carrot puree as a natural sweetener, and we decided cleverly to puree the vegetables so children can’t pick them out. Our entire pasta sauce range is also gluten free and contains no additives or preservatives as we “hot fill” our pasta sauces. Customers can use our sauces for pasta dishes as well as general cooking sauces.
What inspired you to create your product?
We have been making chutneys for many years but saw an opening for a range with no added sugar or salt sauces. Our sauces and chutneys are delicious and nutritious – just like you would like to make them at home for your family. It makes convenience shopping a guilt free activity. We applied for a place on the SuperValu Food Academy program and SuperValu loved the concept of no added sugar or salt in this product range. The mentoring support on the programme has been invaluable to us as it provided us with invaluable market insights that helped us growing our business.
How has your product evolved since it has launched?
Janet’s Just Delicious pasta sauces and our wonderful pizza sauce have become really popular, particularly, since being part of the SuperValu Food Academy range. Being able to sell our products in SuperValu stores provided us with great customer feedback that helped us develop our products even further. As a result, we are currently redesigning our labels so that customers can see that we are a genuinely handmade Irish product range containing no added sugar or salt, an idea that stemmed through the SuperValu Food Academy programme.
Who is your customer?
We believe that everyone is our customer – from working parents of young children who may not have the time to prepare their own pasta sauces, to families with hungry sports mad teenagers who need carbohydrate “food for fuel”. Our pasta sauces and chutneys are for anyone who simply enjoys wholesome and nutritious food, or who may be gluten intolerant. Thanks to the SuperValu Food Academy we are able to reach a wide varying set of customers.
What tips would you give to someone who is starting out and wants to launch a food-related product/business?
It is really important to do your research to see if the product you have in mind is suitable for your market. Go and visit shops to see what products are already available and talk to shop owners and other producers about your product idea and tips for setting up and growing a food business.
I would also recommend applying for the SuperValu Food Academy programme in your county. The programme has been very helpful right from the start and has extensive information available to use as research material. Sign up for one of the excellent ‘Start Your Own Business’ courses with your Local Enterprise and contact your local Environmental Health Officer to discuss what is required if you start producing from your own home kitchen at first.
Feedback is invaluable. So make some products and give them to friends and family to try them out. You might also want to think about taking a stall at a local Farmers Market to get in touch with potential customers. Also, spend time on your packaging and branding. We eat with our eyes first, so your product should look appealing to customers. The SuperValu Food Academy has been great in pushing us in the right direction.
Finally, don’t give up! If your product is good and innovative keep trying and knocking on doors. It is HARD WORK but unbelievably rewarding to see customers buying your own product.
Where can we buy Janet’s Just Delicious Sauces?
Janet’s Just Delicious Pasta Sauces retail at €2.79 each and the Pizza Sauce is available for €2.25. You can buy our sauces in SuperValu stores and many independent stores nationwide.
What does the future hold for your business?
The future is looking promising for Janet’s Country Fayre. We have come through the recession and it is an exciting time to be in the food industry in Ireland. For me it is all about team work and I am privileged to have fantastic staff working with me who put the same passion into every product that we produce every day of the week. Liza Lewis, my production manager, has been with me since we set up in Kilcoole almost 8 years ago. The success of my sales on the SuperValu Food Academy programme has resulted in getting a national listing for Janet’s Just Delicious pasta sauces, so customers should see the products in every SuperValu up and down the country soon. We are very thankful for all the support we received through the SuperValu Food Academy programme and are excited to continue to learn and grow through the programme.