Glenhaven picks up top prize to add to three other awards

Nearly 40 years in business, Glenhaven Foods draws inspiration from how families eat together

Pictured left to right: Paul Farrell, retail key account manager (IR & NI); Hilary Tobin, sales and marketing manager; Evanne Cahill, co-founder and Hugh McLaughlin, sales director and head of NPD, Glenhaven Foods

Many companies take pride in being a family business, often instilling family values into their company policies. At Glenhaven Foods, the concept of family goes even further – the actual family unit served as inspiration for their products. “We’re a family ourselves and we know there’s nothing more important than time spent together at mealtimes,” said Emma Cahill, co-owner of Glenhaven Foods with her brother Barry. “Our range of delicious home-style products are quick and easy to prepare, which means less time in the kitchen and more time enjoying some quality family time.”

This approach not only has turned them into a multi-million-euro company, but it has also won them an astounding four awards at the 2023 Family Business Awards, including Family Business of the Year. “We are delighted to have won four gongs at the Family Business Awards,” comments Cahill. As well as Family Business of the Year, we also received Gold for Innovative Family Business of the Year, a Family Business Longevity Award and International Family Business of the Year.”

Fact File

Organisation’s Name: Glenhaven Foods

Number of employees: 170

Turnover: €60 million

Why it’s in the news: Winning four titles in the 2023 Family Business Awards, including the Family Business of the Year

Winning so many awards is a testament to Glenhaven’s strong brand as a family company. “Being a family business is definitely a massive part of who we are as a company, and it’s something we feel really resonates with our customers,” says Cahill. “Many of our team have also been with the business for over 30 years, which creates a family-like atmosphere throughout the whole company. Our team has a massive depth of knowledge and dedication, which can’t be underestimated. We all take a lot of pride in what we produce, and that comes through in the quality of our products. It also comes through in our relationships with our customers, many of whom have been with us for upwards of 30 years, too.”

The story of Glenhaven Foods began in 1986, when Emma and Barry’s parents, David and Evanne Cahill, founded the company, trading initially out of a small factory in Avoca. They quickly secured some strong, blue-chip accounts in the food service industry, including Supermac’s and Aldi, which have been a bedrock for Glenhaven for over 30 years.

Now, almost 40 years on, Glenhaven has a turnover of €60 million, employs 170 people in Co Wicklow and operates out of two purpose-built factories in Arklow, including a state-of-the-art ‘fully cooked’ facility.

Their continued success in a crowded sector is down to reputation, quality products and innovative thinking. “Unlike the majority of our competitors, Glenhaven is a second-generation local Irish family business that’s been making great quality frozen chicken products for almost four decades,” says Cahill. “All of our products are produced locally in Wicklow in our state-of-the art facilities by a local team, many of whom have been with us for decades, including lots of second-generation employees. There’s also a feel-good factor for the customer when they purchase Glenhaven, because they know they are helping to support local Irish jobs.”

As well as being a family business, the very fact that Glenhaven Foods is Irish owned and run adds to their success. “Irish consumers are keen to purchase Irish products, so that has helped us to build a loyal following. Customers also now realise that a lot of the other frozen poultry brands they see on the shelf are actually being imported directly from Thailand and China. Our family story serves as a reminder of the real people behind our products, and all the Irish jobs and families who are supported when you purchase locally produced food products.”

Innovation and adapting quickly to trends are also important factors in Glenhaven’s success – as acknowledged in their Gold award in the Innovative Family Business category. “Innovation has always been a cornerstone of our business,” Cahill says. “Before chicken we actually produced coated fish. We are now best known for specialising in high-quality coated frozen poultry, but in recent years we have been rapidly growing our range and global reputation for producing premium, coated Irish cheese products. We have also recently signed a major deal with Subway to supply all 2,400 stores throughout the UK and Ireland with an innovative new Cheesy Bites product for the Hot Sides Menu, which saw us shortlisted for the Export Innovation of the Year Award 2023.”

But that’s not all. In addition to coated cheese, Glenhaven has recently launched both coated pork and beef products into the Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) and retail markets, while simultaneously launching a new range of hot snacking products under their retail and foodservice brand, Glenhaven Gold.

“Glenhaven was up against some amazing Irish family businesses in the Innovative Family Business category and we were absolutely thrilled to have won the award,” comments Cahill. “Innovation is something that Glenhaven Foods as a business was built on. And we hope that this innovation award reminds new and existing customers that Glenhaven is an ambitious, growing and highly skilled manufacturer that is flexible, full of new exciting ideas and always looking for new challenges and opportunities.”