Northern Ireland Hamper
We've been asked by a number of people to put together a Northern Ireland Hamper. Obviously as the top Gourmet Hamper company in Northern Ireland they approached Irish Gourmet.
To be honest we are finding it quite difficult to assemble a hamper made of exclusively Northern Irish products. The main difficulty we are experiencing is in the chocolate department. The reason for this is that we buy most of our chocolate from the Irish Republic.
We have found chocolate to be one of those difficult products to judge. For instance when does a gourmet product stop being a gourmet product and become a retail product.
Naturally we want to showcase Irish and Northern Irish products, but if those products are too expensive without having a clear quality advantage, then it is difficult to sanction their inclusion solely on regional bias.
We'd like to hear from companies in Ulster which produce chocolates and lollipops. In the past we have encountered certain Irish companies produce such high quality and imaginative products that their products simply demand inclusion in our hampers. The companies which spring to mind are Wicklow Fine Foods and Skelligs Chocolates.
Both these companies packaging is not great, but the product quality is astounding. We keep on using them because customers who recieve them often write to us expresssing their surprise that such a high quality product was included in their hamper.
The problem is when too much money is spent on packaging and the product moves out of a particular price bracket. In the Irish Gourmet's opinion companies must consider packaging to be an advertising cost and not a product cost for at least the first 2 years as the main advantage to pretty packaging is its ability to position a product in anticipation of future sales.
The other difficult thing to source is Irish wine. We've had the obvious suggestions such as Irish owned vineyards in France or Australia. But we have never gone down that route. In our opinion everybody knows that the Irish and British can't make decent wine at a competitive price, so we use New World Wine from places like Margaret River or the Adelaide Hills. Places which we know make great wine and we don't need to pay a taste testing panel of wine experts to confirm it. Are we making some seriously wrong assumptions?
We'd love to hear from any chocolate producers or wine producers in the UK, Ireland and especially Northern Ireland who can dispel our opinions and hope that somebody reading this can prove that we are clearly mistaken in our beliefs.
The Irish Gourmet