AgriBiz of the week: Meet Siobhan Lawless - the woman behind The Foods of Athenry


Catherina speaks to Siobhan Lawless, a woman changing the face of the free-from food industry.

AgriBiz of the week: Meet Siobhan Lawless - the woman behind The Foods of Athenry

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Catherina speaks to Siobhan Lawless, a woman changing the face of the free-from food industry.

An idea inspired back in the late 1990’s has allowed Siobhan Lawless to grow a business based in Athenry, Co. Galway, capable of employing twenty people.

What many don’t realise is that Siobhan took a unique approach to entrepreneurship and turned a milking parlour into a bakery.

Carving Plans

The family-run dairy herd went under the hammer in 2004 and Siobhan was left with the responsibility to carve out future plans.

It was one that wasn’t made overnight, as her young family and husband were at stake. Her history as a grand-daughter of one of the West of Ireland’s largest bakeries at once stage didn’t leave her pondering in doubt too long. Without further ado, The Foods of Athenry was born.

Sky-rocketing to success

Well over a decade later, Siobhan now has build-up a reputable enterprise; a specialist in the free-from food sector. As primary manufacturers, everything is completed on site, pushing Siobhan’s business a cut above the rest.

‘We are continuing to produce products suitable for special dietary needs. It gives choice for the consumer, which is important.’ Siobhan explained to That’s Farming.

Her enterprise has continued snowballed in an upwards direction.

‘For me the driving force is just to be out here, being a local employer and seeing the staff in the canteen being satisfied. I don’t feel like their boss, we are all in this together.’ Siobhan explained to That’s Farming

Product Range

The Food of Athenry product range continues to dominate our shelves. Over thirty products are placed on the market at the moment, of a gluten-free, dairy-free and vegan nature.

Sales continue to soar for the Galway-based business, which has been backed by a powerful online website facility, along with major stockists including Dunnes and Tesco. Customers are even based in ten countries across the waters and Vegan marshmallow and numerous cookie families are all products of popularity. The Brownie Cookie shot continues to lead the way, as one of the most popular product; The bitesize cookies, marketed in a resealable bag, are only eighteen calories each, a unique selling point.

Gaining traction

The product has garnered the attention of national and international visitors, along with many leading household names, including musical star Ellie Goulding.

‘Our social media has a powerful presence and our customer base is very engaged. It makes us proud to be a business.’ Siobhan explained.

The customers in their thousands appreciate the philosophy behind Siobhan’s business and she is often showered with letters of appreciation.

‘ Our customers are so grateful. One response stands out in memory. A customer told me she had lost her relationship with food. She thanked me for helping her through her journey, as she could trust food again because of our products.’ Siobhan said.

Recent Success

Siobhan is continuing to keep ahead of the curve and always has a jam-packed programme of events.

In the 2017 calendar alone, four new products have been launched, along with an emphasis placed on developing exportable products, rebranding and stepping their feet a little further inside hotels and cafés.

‘In the last number of weeks, we have launched single served sachets of free-from granola. Hopefully, it will make it easier for these hotels to accommodate for their customers.’ Siobhan explained.

Recognition

The enterprise’s mantra ‘Our products taste great’ is more than just a saying.

Sixty national and international taste awards happen to account for just a fraction of the silverware she has scooped to date.

Blas na HEireann, McKenna’s Guide, Great Taste and a Free from food Award 2015 are among the exceptional acknowledgements that Siobhan has received for her sheer passion.

‘I was proud that the Gluten Free products can stand out from the non-gluten free products. I feel it was a very deciding moment for us.’ Siobhan added.

Future Plans

Expanding her market space and increasing exports overseas are among the plans currently taking dominance.

‘Don’t be afraid of the free-from aisles. You might have to look a little harder to find us, but we are there. Dig a little deeper, you will be surprised what you can find down there.’ Siobhan concluded.

To obtain more information or to obtain product information see their social media channels:

Website

Twitter

Instagram

Facebook

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