Article appeared in issue 4, 2022
It started as a small family-run pig farm, but thanks to investment in research and innovative initiatives, Oliver Carty & Family is now one of the biggest producers of pork and bacon in Ireland
It was just a small family pig farm in Arcadia, Athlone, when Oliver Carty began to cure hams on the grounds of his farm in the 1950’s. Fast forward 60 years however and today Oliver Carty & Family is one of Ireland’s largest pork and bacon producers and a highly successful brand, known both at home and abroad. What’s more, the company has grown from just 11 employees to 150 and now occupies a 90,000 sq. ft. facility.
Much of this success is down to its awareness of the need to innovate. The company maintains a strong focus on research, innovation and new product development. “We’re continuously bringing fresh ideas to the market, extending our product offering, improving our sustainability and sourcing standards, and providing added value for our customers,” says Ted Carty, who is Oliver Carty’s son and now runs the business.
“Enterprise Ireland has worked with us on our manufacturing R&D and export drive,” he adds. “While, Bord Bia has supported our marketing, helping us to develop and grow our brand. All of this has helped considerably in our success to date.”
The company’s product portfolio now spans over 160 product lines. “We take pride in the knowledge that over 20% of all pre-packed bacon and rashers sold in Ireland originated from our plants,” says Ted. “Each and every week, we process a minimum of 4,000 Irish pigs.” Its range of products is diverse and encompasses traditional cured products, such as bacon joints and rashers, speciality cures, and bespoke cuts like its Great Taste ‘Best Irish Speciality’ award-winning smoked rack of bacon.
In september 2021, on celebrating 60 years in business, the company rebranded as ‘Oliver Carty & Family’ and created the slogan ‘The Carty Way’ to refer to its unique production methods, which include smoking the bacon, in an onsite smokehouse, using beech, oak and cherrywood. It also launched its own branded range of pork, bacon and turkey products. The pork for these products comes from the Little River Pig Farm in Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford. This meat is cured using Irish Atlantic sea salt, which is harvested on the Beara Peninsula in West Cork. The turkey meat for this range of rashers, medallions, lardons and joint products is 100% Irish.
It's not for nothing the company has won numerous awards. “We’re proud to say we’ve picked up over 150 awards since 2013 from Great Taste and Blas na hÉireann,” says Ted. “We’re immensely proud too of receiving 74 Great Taste awards, including four three-star awards and two Golden Forks. In addition, we’ve won no less than 58 Blas awards.”
On top of this, Oliver Carty has received a number of supplier awards, the latest for maintaining over 99.9% supply efficiency over the course of the pandemic, winning ‘Heroes for Trading Partners’ from the Irish Grocery Industry.
A Family Affair
Oliver Carty is very much a family affair. Ted’s sister Bernadette, his daughters Aoife and Deirdre, and his sons Ben and Jack also work in the business, contributing to sales, marketing and human resources. “The company is built on a foundation of strong family values and a business ethos of honesty, trust and reputation,” says Ted. “Supporting Irish farmers and Irish jobs, in conjunction with our retail partners, is important to us too and lies at the very core of Oliver Carty and Family. Our philosophy is to form long-standing relationships with customers and partners to ensure shared common values and goals. This approach has been paramount to our success.”
The company has for example a long-standing partnership since 1995 with the Musgrave Group. Oliver Carty supplies own-label pork, bacon, and rasher requirements across all its stores.
Bord Bia and Origin Green
Sustainability is also important to Oliver Carty. “We were one of the first 50 companies in Ireland to join Origin Green, the Bord Bia sustainability scheme, and we’re currently a gold member,” says Ted.
The business also prides itself on operating under the highest of food safety and quality standards and is approved under the Bord Bia Meat Processor Quality Assurance Scheme, licensed by the department of agriculture, food and the marine. It has global standard for food safety (BRCGS) accreditation and is a certified member of the Irish Organic Association (IOA).
Its sister company, Do Me A Flavour has been in operation since 2013. It specialises in seasoning ingredients such as natural herbs and spices, signature herbs, marinades, dressings and flavoured butters, and it compliments the already existing business.
In 2014, Oliver Carty became the first meat processor in Ireland to join the DNA Traceback Programme, which provides a scientific means of guaranteeing the Irish origins of pig meat. “It allows us to give the ultimate assurance of traceability and transparency to the consumer,” says Ted. “Championing this programme has been a success for us, giving reassurance to the consumer, but also the retailer and the farming community. It sets us apart from our competitors,” he adds.
This attention to detail in every aspect of the business, combined with innovative initiatives, means that Oliver Carty is in demand, not only in Ireland but abroad. The company currently exports to Germany, the UK and the UAE. “We’ve recently launched the Oliver Carty & Family brand in Spinneys and Choitrams stores across the UAE,” says Ted. “We’re promoting the brand in-store at point of purchase at the moment, to raise awareness of, and trial, our products, for ex-pats, emphasising our Irishness, our premium credentials and our unique taste.” It also plans to launch the brand directly to consumers online in the coming months, offering bacon and ham bundles for entertaining, barbecues and festive celebrations.
The future looks bright for Oliver Carty & Family. “We have a strong growth agenda for the next five years, with significant resources being put into building our B2B food solutions business with our sister company, Do Me A Flavour,” says Ted. “We intend to build an even stronger Oliver Carty & Family consumer brand in Ireland and in our export markets too. It’s all very positive.”