Each week on RTÉ Food, we meet one of the nation's hard-working Irish food producers to see how they do what they do so well. This week, we're chatting to Samuel Dennigan from Strong Roots.
Samuel Dennigan (31) comes from a food business background and has spent 10 years working in the Retail, Wholesale and Food Service industries, growing up at the fruit, vegetable and flower market at Mary’s Abbey, Dublin 7, while working for his family’s business initially. Sam has now found himself back in the area and has set up the Strong Roots HQ on Halston Street, right in the epicenter of the activity. Having identified the opportunity for a freshly frozen range of vegetables for a time poor, but quality-expecting and trend-following consumer, it is there, in the heart of Dublin’s food quarter that these new frozen innovations are being developed.
What is your food product and how is it made?
We have recently added a Kale and Quinoa burger to the Strong Roots family, which is vegan friendly, low in saturated fat and low in sugar alternative for those consumers who are looking to add tasty and good-for-you options to their meals but are also looking for convenience. Each burger contains quinoa grown in Europe (as opposed to South America) from a sustainable source. The burgers contain potato flakes, carrots, roasted onions, soybeans and a variety of spices including ginger, garlic and black pepper.
We also have an Oven Baked Sweet Potato that has become very popular with Irish families thanks to its crispy texture and taste.
When and how did you first come up with the idea for the product?
Our consumers are in a constant struggle to find food that fits their busy lifestyle and their specific diets. But this is something I also struggle with, I am a consumer too, so I am not exempt to any of this. Nowadays, we want tasty meals which are low in sugar and salt content or easy and quick dinners without worrying about fat content or calories. We want the best of both worlds in the comfort of our kitchen, but we want them quickly and hassle free. The Kale and Quinoa burger was born from the requests of our customers and of those facts. We asked our customers and listened to what they were telling us.
Who buys your products?
Our products are suitable for everyone, different ages, lifestyles or stage of life. People who are health conscious and like to look good, our products suits perfectly with their balanced diet, the foodies who can’t sacrifice taste but still are conscious of what they eat, love them, and even young moms who are trying to get their kids to eat more variety, Strong Roots [can be] part of their journey.
Where do you source your ingredients?
The ingredients we use all come from sustainable sources. We partner with people who believe in sustainability, for example the quinoa we use is sourced from Europe and not from South America for example.
Does your product carry the guaranteed Irish label?
No, they don’t. They are not Irish because it’s not possible to grow them or manufacture them here successfully on a commercial level. We’d like them to be, but for now, no.
Other than your own, what’s your favorite product?
I couldn’t possibly pick a favourite one, but the one I’ve been intrigued with most recently is the sugar free, high-protein, ice-cream range, Wheyhey.
Many food producers are very passionate about their products – have you a message you would like to share with your customers?
There is heart, soul and passion behind this brand. We are bringing something that people want and can relate with, rather than what suits big business. With the launch of the Kale and Quinoa Burger we are now converting people who would never have considered buying a veggie burger as a meal option! This is what Strong Roots is all about, trying a new food experience, and we hope others will join us in our journey!
Is there salt and/or sugar in your products? If so, how much and why?
Yes, there is, but in very small amounts. The Kale and Quinoa Burgers per 100g contain 1.9g of sugar. The Oven Baked Sweet Potato have 9.4g which is all naturally occurring sugar from the root and is also low in salt with 0.1g per 100g.
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What is the shelf-life of your product and how come?
Shelf life is 48 months and this is one of the benefits of frozen food. We can have our food when we need it and want it, minimize waste and keep the same quality as if it was bought the day it was harvested.
What would your death row meal be (aside from your own products!)?
A meal with good friends and family.
Where can people buy your food and find you online?
Strong Roots Kale and Quinoa burger is available in SuperValu and Dunnes Stores nationwide, Eurospar and Spar stores in Northern Ireland and Ireland,
independent retailers including JC Savages, Joyce’s, Nolans, Morton's, Lotts & Co., Kerrigans, Bodyfirst Nutrition, Joyce's Supermarket, Kate's Kitchen in Sligo, Fallon and Byrne and Donnybrook fair. You can find our stock list on our website.