Atlantic Treasures - Georgina Campbell's New Product Review supported by BIM

Mick & Michael O’Donnell JnrFish smoking has a long history in Ireland, with traditionally smoked fish a staple on our tables until relatively recently. It is still held in affection and many people have fond memories of locally smoked fish enjoyed on childhood holidays - all of which helps to create a positive mindset for contemporary shoppers when they see modern versions of these traditional foods on display, take note of their healthy eating credentials and (in the case of Atlantic Treasures mackerel) spot the familiar Great Taste Awards logo, which is a respected independent indication of quality.

The brainchild of Michael O’Donnell Jnr - son of Mick O’Donnell, whose business Island Seafoods Ltd has been freezing and exporting bulk pelagic fish from Killybegs in Co. Donegal for three decades - the Atlantic Treasures range was developed with the help of St. Angela’s College in Sligo, ‘to suit modern palates and a more discerning consumer’.

Herring with Orange and RosemaryThe sheer range and diversity of foods currently available to consumers means it is harder for producers to make an impression but, by diversifying, the O’Donnells have adapted creatively to a rapidly changing marketplace - and they have brought traditional smoked fish into the 21st century as value added products with appeal to a broader, younger and more cosmopolitan market. And this environmentally friendly business’s success - triple digit growth year on year since 2010 - has been a big boost to employment in the area too, with up to 35 people employed at the height of the pelagic fishing season.

The collaboration with St Angela’s College initially resulted in the launch of two innovative mackerel products, Mackerel with Honey & Mustard Glaze (Great Taste One Star, 2012) and Mackerel with Ginger, Chilli & Lime Glaze (One Star 2014), and their success has since led to the introduction of an appealing Hot Smoked Herring with Orange and Rosemary Butter and - most recently - Hot Smoked Salmon with Sundried Tomato and Chilli Butter, which won the Blas na hEireann Chef’s Choice Award in October 2014.

Salmon with Sun Dried Tomato and ChilliSold as the new “Healthy Fast Food” (high in Omega 3 and 6), quality is the secret of the Atlantic Treasures success story, guaranteed by personal supervision right along the production process. Firstly, the fish coming off boats in Killybegs is handpicked by the Quality Manager, who is looking for fish with the highest fat content (16-22%) for a moist texture and the best flavour. The fish is then filleted and smoked by hand before being finished with the flavoured glazes and butters that currently have consumer appeal.

All four products in the current Atlantic Treasures range are hot smoked, so they can be eaten hot or cold. They are very convenient to use and a long shelf life makes them handy to keep in the fridge for use as required. Served cold with salad and brown bread they make quick starters or light meals, Island Seafoods Atlantic Treasures Rangewhile the reheated fish can also be served with a salad garnish, or perhaps with hot vegetables to make a more substantial meal.

The O’Donnells are rightly proud of their achievements - not only have both mackerel products won Great Taste Awards, but Atlantic Treasures have received Blas Na hEireann Awards, Chef’s Choice Award and Best Product in Co. Donegal, while Island Seafoods Ltd as a business entity won an Ulster Bank Business Achievers Award for best family run business at regional level. Quite something for a business that focused solely on bulk exports until a few years ago.

At €2.49 for the Herring; €3.49 for both Mackerel varieties and €5.49 for the Salmon, the Atlantic Treasure range offers very good value for money. Although the packs are compact, oily fish is highly nutritional and each serves two very adequately.

BIM Seafood Circle

Available from Dunnes Stores, Musgrave, Tesco, and BWG (listed centrally so it’s available all over Ireland), also through a growing number of fish shops and speciality food shops, especially in the Dublin area. With help from Bord Bia, there are plans to export the range to the UK and several European countries.

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