Growth for Peppup Italian ketchups, dips and sauces
Newtownards-based entrepreneur Dr Luca Montorio has seen business for his Peppup authentic Italian ketchups, dips and sauces grow 10 fold in Ireland in the past year from a decision to take them on the road to butchery shops and small grocery stores.
The success of his one-man sales drive on the island of Ireland has helped him to overcome successfully the challenges from the current coronavirus lockdown and to develop three novel products for lovers of Italian cuisine for home cooking.
The Peppup marketing initiative has resulted in his products becoming the preferred Italian sauces in many butchers especially in the Republic of Ireland, a target market.
“I’ve learned that there’s no silver bullet for an artisan business in marketing food products,” he says.
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“There’s no point whatsoever in hoping that one or more of the big supermarkets will quickly list a new product from a small business.
“I decided to pitch my products instead at smaller, local stores especially family butchers which are still preferred by families in many parts of Ireland.
“What we’ve also seen during the virus crisis is a growing trend towards such local stores from a strengthening sense of community. Shoppers are turning increasingly to local butchers, farm shops and family grocers which offer a safe, personalised service with quality and nutritious products from here with heritage and provenance.”
Luca, a nutritionist originally from Turin, set up the small business with wife Liz, a marine researcher at Queen’s University, Belfast, in 2014.
They live in Portaferry with their two sons.
He has spent much of the past year calling with butchers and local stores in both Northern Ireland and the Republic to meet owners and their customers.
“I enjoy meeting them all, running sampling sessions and talking to them about my sauces,” he continues.
“Such visits show traders that I have total confidence particularly in the taste, ingredients and authenticity of all my products and will readily work with them to increase sales.”
The new products just launched expand the company’s existing and successful portfolio.
They are an original bolognese, a smooth bolognese and a chilli dip.
The products, he explains, have also been influenced by feedback from retailers and customers over the months.
“Our new bolognese sauces are a response to those in both Northern Ireland and the Republic seeking original and smoother sauces in addition to our existing basil and chilli bologneses. The Irish market seems to have a preference for original and a smoother bologneses, the latter similar to passata,” he says.
“Meeting customers on the ground is the only way to gain such vital marketing information.”
All his products feature premium roasted red peppers and tomatoes and are based on original recipes developed by Luca and influenced by his upbringing in Turin,
where his parents still live.
The company has been assisted by business development agency Invest NI and is also a Food NI member.
His portfolio includes two ketchups – original and mild chilli, two pasta sauces – original and mild chilli – a Mediterranean cooking sauce – two dips and the four bologneses.
Several of the products have won multiple UK Great Taste and Free From awards.
The bologneses and dips use only natural ingredients, are free from gluten, dairy, fat and have no added sugar.
They are also unique in not having onions and garlic and so are IBS friendly.
“These features provide a fresh tasting product that’s free of allergens and preservatives and suitable for vegans, reflecting the strength of our commitment to nutritional and tasty food,” Luca adds.
“They also reflect our overall focus on clean food.”
The company, in addition, has introduced a Peppup channel on You Tube with recipe ideas and guidance on how to use its range of Italian products.
“The channel reflects the growing trend towards home cooking and especially of popular Italian dishes such as lasagne, spaghetti bolognese and meatballs,” Luca adds.
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