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 chat to Kirsti O’Kelly from Silver Darlings. Silver Darlings’ is Ireland’s only herring pickler. Originally from Finland, Kirsti was keen to introduce the Nordic speciality of pickled herrings to Irish consumers.
Can you tell us a bit about your product?
I marinate and pickle Irish Atlantic Herring in various flavours using Scandinavian recipes. Silver Darlings products are completely boneless and ready to eat. They come in five different flavours which are Balsamic & Sandalwood, Beetroot & Horseradish, Pimento (smoked paprika, garlic and chili), Star of the Sea (star anise) or Fennel & Tarragon. The pickles are slightly sweet, subtle, fine wine vinegars infused with fresh herbs and aromatic spices. They are ideal as a starter or lunch, in salads, seafood platters, open sandwiches or on their own!
What inspired you to create Silver Darlings?
My Nordic roots and knowledge how to make amazing pickled herring, together with access to great Irish herring which is used very little here for value added products.
How has your Silver Darlings evolved since it has launched?
The products are well received, however, it has taken a few years to find the flavours that work best for the Irish pallet. Once I started with SuperValu Food Academy I have learned a great deal about the retail sector and got a chance to get my products to a much larger audience.
Who is your customer?
Mostly those who have experienced the joy of pickled herring before or those who are open to try something completely new and are into seafood in general. Also to my surprise my products are popular among the elderly and kids, perhaps as there are no bones – they dissolve in the marinating process. It’s been great to see so many chefs excited about using my products on their menus.
What tips would you give to someone who is starting out and wants to launch a food-related product/business?
Interview a small established food business owner to hear some first-hand experience, study and test your market, take your time in product development, create a focus group, take feedback on board and don’t be afraid of change because everything will change – many times around! GO FOR IT!
Where can you buy this product and how much will it cost?
€3.80 / 200g jar from selected SuperValu stores (Old Superquinn Stores and local stores in Limerick, Clare and West Cork area)
What does the future hold for your business?
Hopefully more good things, perhaps export opportunities and increasing seafood eating in Ireland.