West Living Case Studies
Mayo Case Study: Seamus Moran
A trained chef by profession, Séamus Moran established Lotide Fine Foods in his home-town of Kilmeena, Westport in 2004. “I was born and bred here in Kilmeena just a stones throw from sea where five generations of my family have lived since the 1840s” explains Séamus.
“After I had studied catering in Killybegs IT, I worked with an executive catering company in London for a number of years and came back to the West of Ireland to work as head chef in a hotel in Roscommon. At that time, my wife Carmel was working in Belfast and we were both travelling 100 miles each day and meeting at weekends – I knew half of what we earned would go an awful lot further in Wesport, so we just took the plunge and came back home.”
While working as a chef Séamus had used seaweeds such as carrageen moss and dillisk. He had discovered that people like the taste, provided it is presented correctly and knew that Clew Bay was the perfect place to develop a seaweed and sea vegetable industry.
“We developed the brand Lo-Tide Fine Foods to reflect the fact that seaweed is harvested at low tide” says Séamus. “I really believed that there was a niche market for high quality, natural food products and could see there was a trend towards people looking for foods that provide sound nutritional value and also quality health benefits. Seaweed fits the bill perfectly, it helps detox the body, is very easily absorbed by the body and is totally natural – so I knew we could make a viable business based in Westport where I really wanted to be.”
The company offers a range of natural air dried seaweeds like Natural Dillisk and Carrageen Moss and also uses these seaweeds as a base for organic gourmet pasta and meat-based seaweed sausages. Séamus also sells into bakeries where the seaweed is used for health breads and as a natural flour improver.
“Lotide Fine Foods products are served in fine dining restaurants nationwide”, Séamus says. “They are available through retail and selected gourmet outlets throughout Ireland, the UK and parts of mainland Europe – we have full traceability, which is a real competitive advantage and I am very close to my customers. If a buyer in UK needs to see me I say no problem, I’ll be there in the afternoon and know that I can get a flight from Ireland West Airport Knock, which is just 25 miles from me.”
Lo-Tide Fine Foods employs two full-time and five seasonal staff and has not noticed any negative impact as a result of the general downturn in the economy.
“We are very positive about the future of the business. We believe the way forward is to develop a range of products that are instantly recognisable, of high quality and convenience, and taste fantastic – and we look forward to doing it all right here on the shores of Clew Bay.
“I was born here, left, came back; my three kids are growing up here and I never want to leave it again”, concludes Séamus.
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