Colm Connolly hails from a five-generation Monaghan farming family, and he decided to set up his own business selling a range of gourmet dried Irish beefs snacks. Rucksnacks is a new and promising Monaghan food businesses which has become a big hit with health enthusiasts looking for snacks with no added sugar, no gluten and no allergens. Colm uses the local state-of-the-art food incubation unit at the Ballybay Enterprise Park to develop and produce the high-protein snacks. We grabbed Colm for a five-minute chat about his food business success so far.
Q : How did you come up with the idea of “Rucksnacks”?
A: We created Rucksnacks in 2015 but we didnt have a name at that stage it was just an idea born out of frustration between myself and my wife. We both wanted to have healthy snacks but there was very little available. I come from an agricultural backround so I looked to see if we could create something from what we farm at home into a healthy snack product.
Q : You have travelled around the world and experienced many cultures and lots of exciting food, why did you return and decide to base your food business in Monaghan?
A : My wife and I had always planned to return back to Ireland after backpacking around the world for seven months. We always knew we had the family farm, and being a 5th generation beef farmer, I liked the idea of coming back to my roots. And terms of agri-food, Monaghan is very strong as a county. When I returned home I didn’t really know how it was going to work, but that’s when I started to look into things. I found the supports and availability of help across the county to be very good and it was a huge bonus.
Q : What use do you get from using the state-of-the-art food incubation unit in Ballybay Enterprise Park? What are the facilities like?
A : We are still involved with research and development at this stage. Even though we have products launched we’re still at that stage as a company. The Ballybay kitchen [facility] is fully set up and approved by the relevant authorities so it’s of a very high standard. It has everything you need to produce or to run trials and that’s been so useful for us because we’ve been able to do both. It has allowed us to test products and make any mistakes on a smaller and it’s been very handy to have such a well-equipped facility nearby.
Q : We can find Rucksnacks in various gyms and SuperValu stores across the county. Are there any plans to expand distribution in the future?
A : We started off by supplying local. First off we supplied the local SuperValu, just two minutes away from us. That went well and so ee started to then increase the number of places stocked. Ultimately we need to scale up. We want to expand out to all counties in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland and hopefully then the rest of the UK. We have already started to export to Europe. Beef snacks are very popular in Countries like Germany. We will also continue with research and development to add to our range of products”.