Just Food in Cork


Have been trying out some of the Just Food organic range recently.

They do a large range of soups, everything from Mushroom to Moroccan Chickpea and much in between, including Vegetable and Peanut, one of my favourites (not that I’ve tried them all yet).

They do Organic Pasta Sauces. But don’t just stick to the pastas. These sauces, just like the soups, are versatile and may be used in many ways. For instance, I used the Ratatouille with Cod to make a smashing dinner dish. 

The Cobh based company also do Hummus, Salads, Pestos and other items (including Muesli and Chicken Liver Pate).

Kevin and Deirdre Hilliard are the couple behind the small outfit, now based in the old Verolme Dockyard (Rushbrooke), and she was happy with the business when I met her last week.

Speaking of 2009, Deirdre (right in group photo) said that their sales were up: “Our existing shops kept their end up while our new outlets contributed to a rise overall. People are now eating in more often and are on the lookout for something different such as our soups, which can also be used as sauces.”

“In any event, organic customers are resilient, especially with regard to small ticket items. Besides, organic items are not always more expensive. Our soups for instance are cheaper per kilo than many of our non organic counterparts. Our marketing and packaging is honest. We don't give you a big packet with less content. Indeed, we use see-through containers.”

Last winter was really good for sales and the trend continues, the soups doing very well in January and February, perhaps because of the long cold spell. No wonder, Just Foods is looking forward to yet another good year.

All in all, it means that the outfit has come a long way since it was a “hobby” for the Hilliards as they sold their produce from the corner of a shared stand in Midleton Market. They have been in Rushbrooke for the past two and a half years and now employ eight people.

Deirdre is looking forward to the next big challenge: supplying a recently secured contract for six of the Dunnes Stores shops in the Cork area.

That contract is but the latest recognition for the Hilliards. Last year (2009), they repeated the feat of the previous year when winning five medals at the Blas na hEireann Food Awards in Dingle. 

Their Muesli and Cucumber Pickle were among the gold winners as was the Spicy Lentil Soup (getting it for the second year in a row). They are also happy with the good things said about them in the Bridgestone Food Guide (2010).

But even though they are doing well, Deirdre knows that you can't take anything for granted. Once, in the 60s and 70s, large newly built ships were “slipped” down to the river right where we stood talking. Hundreds were employed in that long defunct dockyard.

 “There is a lot of history in this place,” she says. Just Food is a firm with a promising future, making its own little bit of history. So far. So very good.