Yogurt company is lining out for continued organic growth

Glenisk is the number one yogurt brand in Ireland and the company has no intention of stopping there, writes Quinton O’Reilly

3rd March, 2019
Vincent Cleary, managing director, GleniskJames Flynn/APX

‘It’s my intention to double our size in the next 24 months,” said Glenisk managing director Vincent Cleary. “We’re ambitious, we need more farmers to come into organics because we’re confident we can find the markets now.

“I’m very confident we’ll continue to grow, I’m hoping we’ll double our size because it’ll say as much about consumer attitudes to picking better quality products off the shelf and I like to think we fit into that niche.”

The confidence Cleary expresses here is well earned. The company is no stranger to achievements, with it becoming the number one yogurt brand in Ireland for the first time in January, a significant milestone for the company.

It’s also in talks with a major retailer from the Benelux region (Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg) about stocking its products as well as being “further down the road” with a number of retailers in Germany and France.

To top it off, Glenisk is now a Platinum Standard winner at the Deloitte Best Managed Companies awards, meaning it has received the award for the seventh year in a row.

Cleary says the award helps boost the company by showing those working for it how they compare against their peers and the progress they’ve made.

When asked about the core values that have driven it over 30 years, he mentions pragmatism which started after his father, who set up the company, passed away.

“We took a year or two to find our feet, but I had seen in Germany what organic was doing,” Cleary said. “We couldn't compete with the international players on price alone so we needed to differentiate ourselves and we’ve been doing so ever since. We like to innovate, to do things differently.”

On the innovation side, the company has brought in a number of different products to the market such as protein yogurt and organics, something that highlighted its ability to look at different regions like Germany and California and see what’s coming down the line.

“Back in 1996 when we started producing organic yogurts for the first time, that was a point of difference,” said Cleary. “I loved back then what organic stands for and that point of difference.

“Part of our vision is to get as many Irish farmers converted to organic farming as we possibly can. Organic farming is today as relevant as it was 20 years ago, as everyone is observing their carbon footprint.”

That’s another area that the company is also conscious of - reducing the country’s carbon footprint by prioritising organic farming is something Cleary says will suit Ireland well.

“Organics is extensive farming as opposed to intensive farming, and it would suit Ireland,” he said. “It cuts our greenhouse gases and carbon footprint immediately by 30 per cent plus, that could be pushed to 40 per cent.

“Irish agriculture would be more sustainable, but I guess we have to go a little bit further before the powers that be realise it’s been right for the last 20 years.”

From a marketing perspective, the company scored a big coup by securing a partnership with the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU). This coincided with the company’s protein launch nearly four years ago and Glenisk recently signed another three-year sponsorship with the IRFU.

Cleary said that Glenisk’s success was something other SMEs had taken note of.

“They say marketing is the art of communication so we needed to communicate our products’ attributes to as many people as quickly as possible because we had a €1 million investment gone into the making of protein yogurt here,” he said.

“It helps that the Irish rugby team genuinely eat our products as part of their regime.”

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