The French Connection

LYIT student helps create a new product at Earagail Eisc.

Shane McGee has had one busy summer.  He spent 10 weeks working with Earagail Eisc, based in Carrick, developing new seafood products which are bound for the French market.  The new creations are made with whelks, a shellfish native to Donegal shores, which the French adore.  Shane worked with the Sales & Product development team at Earagail Eisc developing recipes, liaising with suppliers and coordinating design packaging.  He even drafted in a fellow LYIT French student who was on work placement with Errigal Fish in France, to conduct some research on other similar products available in French supermarket shelves during the summer break.

Shane is a 4th year student at LYIT studying BSc (Honours) in Business Studies, specialising in Marketing.  He first studied for the Bachelor of Business in International Culinary Enterprise at the School of Tourism in Killybegs, there he quickly realised his interests lay not just in food but in business too.  

“At Earagail, I was given the task of developing a new product from start to finish which taught me how to apply the skills I’d learned in a real business situation.  I had to source ingredients, manage cost, be mindful of food regulations and come up with packaging which would appeal to the French consumer.  You can’t put a price on that kind of experience, it was invaluable.”

The seafood product is a tapas or snack, very popular in Mediterranean countries.  It comes in three tasty recipes - lemon, spicy á la Provencal, and garlic.  Early testing in France with a major retailer has produced some favourable results so the “Chair du Bulots” could be on French supermarket shelves within six months.

Shane says one of the hardest things was to source ingredients and packaging, “We got there but there was a lot of research into finding the best company and for them to give us what we needed.”  He feels his background in food with business studies and marketing really helped in this project.  “I enjoyed working developing the recipes but it’s got to taste good and be appealing on the shelf.  The real challenge is how to make sure the product can be commercially viable.”

Aodh Ó Dómhnaill, Managing Director, Earagail Eisc, speaking about the importance of links between local business and third level colleges says, “Having access to well-qualified students who are motivated to come up with new ideas and have the skills to take them further is a valuable resource.  Shane has helped us progress a product which could expand our presence in France.  On the other hand, he’s had the opportunity to get a taste for what’s it like to bring a new food product to an export market. ”

He continues, “It’s important to encourage local third level students that there are opportunities for solid experience closer to home.  Providing worthwhile roles in local companies for students does much more than teach beneficial skills, it allows students to see that it is possible to realise their ambitions in the county.”

Earagail Eisc already supply seafood products and shellfish to France, Spain and many of the Nordic countries.  It has a strong reputation for innovation and bringing added value seafood to new markets.  The company has recently upgraded its state-of-the-art shellfish plant and employs over 100 local people at peak production.

Aodh Ó Dómhnaill suggests, “There is great opportunity to leverage the natural provenance and clean waters of Donegal in selling seafood to France.  We hope to introduce these new products to augment our successful product portfolio in Europe.”

Shane is grateful for the freedom he had at Earagail, “I got a lot of encouragement and support when I needed it, but I really felt that this was my project.  I’ll be following what happens to the product in the future.”

He is in his final year of an honours degree in Business Studies but already Shane is thinking about the future, “I’d love to work with Bord Bia/Bord Iascaigh Mhara and develop new food products for food businesses.  I’ve lots of ideas, including setting up my own business.” 

Fri, 22 Jan 2010 00:00:00 GMT


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