Cork couple Joe and Sandra Burns have created a refreshing take on the ever-popular Irish crisp.
Cork couple Joe and Sandra Burns have created a refreshing take on the ever-popular Irish crisp, as one of our favourite snacks now includes veggies such as carrots, beetroot and parsnip, all found in an enticing mix of a packet of Joe’s Farm Crisps.
A need for diversification and a need to add more value for money on top quality produce was the driving force behind the development of Joe’s Farm Crisps. Founded in 2014 by Joe and Sandra Burns, Joe’s Farm Crisps came alive after a particularly difficult time for the couple and their vegetable farm. 2012 was the year of the infamous price war which saw prominent food stores around the country trying to better rivals for pricing on fresh vegetables. This event had a profound impact on Joe and Sandra who found the situation to no longer be financially viable for earning a living and keeping the farm going.
As Sandra states, ‘their backs were to the wall’ and they started to look at doing something else with their produce. The idea of convenience appealed to them as they felt from experience with their own young family, most modern Irish families want something quick, yet filling, healthy and fresh to eat as snacks or at mealtimes.
Sandra fondly jokes about the founding of Joe’s Farm Crisps, as a combination of random events that culminated in producing these deliciously addictive veggie snacks. During their research, Sandra recalled Joe’s sister living in Boston, bringing home a packet of vegetable crisps on a visit years before. The couple began experimenting in their kitchen with making their own crisps. Initially this was just for their kids’ birthdays. From here, friends and other parents were so wowed by the taste of these crisps they wanted to be able purchase them on an ongoing basis.
Sandra and Joe began to sell the crisps at local farmers markets. Sandra having been made redundant from her job in the travel industry in 2009, saw the endeavour as something to do part time while looking after the kids at home. The phenomenal success at the farmer’s markets came with the realisation that to keep up with demand and to hope to sell further afield, they would need to expand their operation. This included setting up a mobile kitchen unit. A glowing reception by a local five star hotel who now feature the crisps on their menus, gave Joe and Sandra the confidence to grow and invest more into production.
The 36 acre family farm based just outside Killeagh, Co. Cork used to predominantly feature 18 acres of potatoes but now due to the popularity of the veggie crisps and a decrease in demand for potatoes this has been reduced to 8 acres. Along with growing beetroot, carrots and parsnip, Joe also grows corn on the cob and podded peas, vegetables that wouldn’t be easily found in supermarkets. 2000 pumpkins are also grown each year in anticipation of a busy Halloween period. It’s safe to say Sandra and Joe are kept very busy between farming and food production!
Joe’s Farm Crisps speak for themselves. A rustic packaging that offers no airs or graces and gets straight to the point, that being the delicious top-quality great tasting flavour of these vegetables cooked in sunflower oil, dehydrated and bagged from hand. Apart from a light dusting of Achill Island Sea Salt, there are no additives or preservatives. Something that Sandra and Joe were adamant about. Wanting to offer something different to the crisp market, Joe’s Farm Crisps rely solely on their delightful flavour. For traditionalists, Joe’s Farm Crisps also feature a potato crisp option, similar to the vegetable crisps, these are unique in that they feature three potato varieties including a purple coloured potato, all salted with Achill Island Sea Salt. Both products are gluten free.
Understandably Sandra and Joe have been overwhelmed by the quick success of their crisps and are delighted with their warm reception. Joe’s Farm Crisps are now in over 80 independent stores and growing across the country. The triumph of their endeavours has led to further investment in a purpose built food grade shed. Joe’s Farm Crisps has also won several accolades including a 2018 Great Taste Star and 2014 Gold Medal Award at Blas na hEireann, attained shortly after launching their crisps. It’s this success and excitement for their crisps that drive Sandra and Joe each day to grow their food business even more.