Achill Island Sea Salt was founded by the O’Malley family in July 2013.
Their process remains simple, they collect the water from the Atlantic waters that surround Achill Island and using a combination of modern and traditional techniques they slowly evaporate the seawater until the sea salt flakes are formed. These flakes are then carefully harvested and dried. This slow method of production allows for the creation of pure white sea salt that is soft and flaky and known for its quality and unique taste.
What Do You Do?
Achill Island Sea Salt is a family business, which began in 2013. The idea was inspired by a sea salt documentary and an age-old tradition of salt production that existed on the Island up until the 1800s. Our aim is to create a great tasting, pure and natural Irish sea salt using sustainable production methods.
Our process remains simple, we collect the water from the Atlantic waters that surround Achill Island and using a combination of modern and traditional techniques we slowly evaporate the seawater until the sea salt flakes are formed. These flakes are then carefully harvested and dried.
This slow method of production allows for the creation of pure white sea salt that is soft and flaky and known for its quality and unique taste.
In September 2016 we moved into a custom modified facility on the Island, which has allowed us to increase production. Visitors can to view the specially crafted sea salt production method and gain insight into the history of salt production on the Island. We hope that developing this visitor centre will increase tourism on the island and promote Achill as a key food destination along the Wild Atlantic Way.
Where do you live? Why do you like it?
We live on Achill Island, Co. Mayo, the largest Island of the coast of Ireland. Achill is a close-knit community and the support we have received when we started this business from the people of Achill has been and still is unbelievable.
Achill is rugged and wild and the scenery is second to none. The wild Atlantic waters that surround the Island offer us the perfect raw material to produce our sea salt. There is something special about being able to create a product using your local resources and when you have grown up by the sea all your life it feels only natural to be working with it.
When did you start your business and what inspired you to do this?
Achill Island Sea Salt was established in 2013. The idea was inspired by a sea salt documentary and the age old tradition of salt production on the Island that existed up until the 1800s.
With a desire to revive this tradition of craft and heritage, we began, in time honoured style, producing sea salt in our family kitchen. The Sea has been the
lifeblood of Achill for generations and so, it was only natural for us to develop a business using this natural and valuable resource.
Late nights boiling, drying and burning pots taught us the process, and eventually leading to producing our first batches. Growing demand for our sea salt saw the business move into a new facility on the island in September 2016.
Where is your market? How have you targeted international markets?
We are part of the Supervalu Food Academy and supply over 30 Supervalus, mainly in Connacht. We also supply Artisan shops and cafes, fishmongers and butchers throughout Ireland.
We provide salt to the food industry and supply a number of well known restaurants in Ireland, including the Michelin Star Restaurant Aniar in Galway.
We have partnered with several food producers in Ireland, including Lily O’ Brien’s Chocolates and Lismore Biscuit Company.
Our export market is currently quite small and ship salt to a number of shops in Holland and the U.S. We hope to increase our export market within the next year.
How long did it take you to get everything your business off the ground?
We began in our family kitchen in July 2013 and then moved to a pilot plant beside our house in March 2014.
Due to a growing demand we moved in to a new custom modified facility on the Island in September 2016. Our new facility has allowed us to increase our production capacity and we can now finally meet the demand for Achill Island Sea Salt.
How did you learn and acquire the skills you use to make your business successful?Initially by trial and error and lots of googling! For our upscale we consulted with industry experts as we had no experience in the engineering industry. Mentoring programmes through Enterprise Ireland and Údaras na Gaeltachta allowed us to develop the business further, especially in the areas of sales and marketing.
How do you promote your business?
Social Media is the main platform we use to promote our business. Through our Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages allows us to easily connect with our customers. We regularly attend food festivals trade shows, and in-store tastings which allows us to meet our customers directly and inform them about our product.
It’s always great to get direct feedback from our customers and gives us an insight on how to improve our product.
What do you love most about being your own boss? What are the drawbacks?
Running your own business has both positives and negatives. You are your own boss and can make your own hours. It’s exciting to see the business grow and and have control over each decision that is made for the business. The drawbacks are often the long hours and trying to be an expert in all areas but I think the benefits of being your own boss will always outweigh the negatives.
What should happen in the West of Ireland to support self employment / entrepreneurship?
We have had a lot of support from agencies but the paperwork attached to each and every application can be prohibitive, funding is mostly matching or less than matching and is not paid until invoice is paid in full and can often be delayed. This can place huge constraints on the cash flow of a start up business. . More hands on mentoring from industry specific experts.
For any business to grow it is essential to have talented and skilled team. It can be difficult to attract graduates to live in the West of Ireland. Offering incentives such as increased individual tax credits to individuals who choose to work in remote places such as Achill Island, providing them with a higher take home pay than if they were living in Dublin etc.
Why do you love where you live? What are your top tips for any visitors to where you live? Achill Island is wild and unspoilt, and it is only when you leave you realise how lucky you are to live in such a beautiful place. Our aim at Achill Island Sea Salt is to create a sustainable business and our local resources have allowed us to do so. There is something special about being able to harness a product from the ocean that you have grown up by all your life. It is easy to love achill and the community are extremely supportive and friendly and are always willing to lend a helping hand.
We are lucky to have a 5 blue flag beaches on Achill and on a sunny day you wouldn’t want to be anywhere else! For anyone interested in outdoor activities, its a paradise for hill walking, surfing, kayaking, swimming and cycling. There is a strong tradition of traditional music on the Island and you are never far from a traditional music session! For any one visiting Achill, make sure to drive along the Atlantic drive and take in the breath taking scenery!
What advice would you give to anybody thinking about a life in the West?
Have a can do and will do attitude!
Full info and where to buy at achillislandseasalt.ie