Omagh farmer Mervyn Kennedy creates 'first' sausage and bacon burger on the island of Ireland
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Behind the new burger, believed to be a ‘first’ on the market on the island of Ireland is experienced pig farmer and bacon producer Mervyn Kennedy of Kennedy Bacon in Omagh, who has a successful track record in developing different and award winning taste experiences.
Kennedy Bacon is a family run company in the rolling hills at Glenhordial providing high quality dry-cured bacon and gammon at a competitive price.
Originally from Donegal, Mervyn’s family has been farming pigs successfully in Tyrone since the 1940s.
A third generation farmer, Mervyn developed the pork processing business as a way to ensure the long-term growth of the extensive farm and has successfully marketed a wide range of ham and bacon products especially at food markets across Northern Ireland and the Republic. He has also supplied pork products to sandwich and pizza producers and expanded into the fast moving cook-in-a bag sector with a dry-cured bacon joint in Armagh Bramley apple sauce.
The new sausage and bacon burger was launched recently at the Taste Causeway in Coleraine and Dungannon food markets. Feedback, Mervyn says, was “extremely positive” and sales were “encouraging”.
“It’s early days yet, of course. I hope that the convenience stores will be interested in the new product. Markets are the best way to launch a new product and to talk to shoppers about it. I’ve found they appreciate being able to talk to the producer about food on show.
“We’ve a lot of work to do to market the burger to buyers in the stores. This is the age of the burger, everybody enjoys a good burger that’s easy to cook. Creating a sausage and bacon burger with my own premium ingredients, therefore, made sense,” adds Mervyn.
“I’ve learned that the best route to growth in food is by coming up with original taste experiences.
“Bacon processing is an immensely competitive and price sensitive market in Ireland. So, I try to create new ideas from my core products that will appeal to shoppers as offering something different, convenient and value for money."
He’s also coping with pressures following a tripling of energy costs over the past six months.
“It’s an immensely challenging time, tough for all the smaller food producers like myself,” he continues. “Increasing prices is difficult in such a competitive and sensitive market as bacon. So, creating new products helps to widen the market potential.”
Mervyn is focused on food from his own dry-curing technique with delicious flavours.
“What helps to set my bacon and other products apart in a competitive market is my unique dry-curing technique. It’s my own recipe from my experience of rearing pigs over many years. I also slice, prepare and package the bacon, gammon and the new burgers. This means the entire process is under my control, ensuring consistent quality, taste and provenance.
“I decided to concentrate on dry-curing because I wanted to develop different products that didn’t involve pumping the bacon with water and preservatives. My bacon is cured in as near to the traditional way as possible, using the minimum amount of cure, which leaves the bacon less salty,” he explains.
He has since grown the business through contracts to supply convenience stores, such as Eurospar and SuperValu, both here and in the Republic.