Mervyn Kennedy, Kennedy Bacon
WHAT IS YOUR CURRENT ROLE?
I am currently the owner of Kennedy Bacon in Omagh, as well as a full-time farmer.
BRIEFLY OUTLINE YOUR EMPLOYMENT HISTORY TO DATE
I was born into a farming family and that has always been my main occupation. I had a factory producing dry cured bacon and hams for foodservice in the 1990s. I gave this up to return to full-time farming after the collapse of the Celtic Tiger in the Republic of Ireland. I started the now-Kennedy Bacon in 2013 because the public kept asking me to start producing my high-quality products again.
WHAT DOES YOUR ROLE INVOLVE?
My role as owner is to ensure a quality product is produced by our company. I have built up many years of experience and skills in the dry curing industry. I cure all the pork by hand and lead progression and sales to further innovate and boost the company.
WHEN DID YOU TAKE UP THIS POST?
I have always had an interest in producing good food and I started our present company in 2012/2013. I started by curing for individual customers and then went on to bring my product to our local market in Omagh and then on to shows and fairs all over the north of Ireland. I then went on to find farm shops and delicatessens which were more than willing to stock our products. Now our products can be found in a wide variety of supermarkets and shops.
WHAT ARE THE BEST/WORST PARTS OF YOUR JOB?
The best part of my job is surely my interaction with customers and other traders at the local markets. I thoroughly enjoy spending time with the animals and being around the farm in general. I honestly cannot think of a worst part. I see things like vans or machines breaking down as challenges to be overcome.
BRIEFLY OUTLINE A TYPICAL DAY
There really is no set or typical day. But I usually start with feeding the pigs around 5.30am and come in and shower before, perhaps, working at a market or attending to matters in the factory. My main job is curing so that can be a lengthy process as all meat is cured by hand. Evenings which are devoid of markets or women’s groups are spent on animal welfare. A major part of my work on the farm is checking for animals that require attention or extra care. It is usually midnight or later when I retire to bed.
WHAT HAS BEEN THE PROUDEST MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER TO DATE?
My proudest moment to date has been being invited by shop owners and supermarkets to display our products in their stores and the positive feedback from customers in general. I was also delighted to win two gold stars in the recent Great Taste awards for one of our products.
WHAT IS THE BEST THING ABOUT BEING INVOLVED WITH THE LOCAL RETAIL INDUSTRY?
The best thing about being involved in the local food industry is having a chance to make a difference as to how food is produced. We do not over-process our products. We add less salt and no phosphate or water, ensuring our product is the healthiest it can be. Our aim, as a company, is to produce premium and tasty products at competitive prices. This, I believe, we have achieved.
WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO TO UNWIND AWAY FROM WORK?
I love to go for long walks on the beach or in forests with my partner and Radley, our dog.
TELL US SOMETHING ABOUT YOURSELF NOT MANY PEOPLE MAY KNOW
I have always had a secret desire to be involved in the distilling industry and would really like to make and export poteen. My great grandfather was a poteen maker in Donegal in the 1890s. I think that might to be my next big venture. Watch this space…