Sean Clinton has been Managing Director of Clintons Crisps since 2018. Sean lives in Skerries in County Dublin and after graduating from Dundalk RTC went to work with Largo Foods in Ashbourne Co Meath as a lab technician. Largo Foods produced snack brands such as Hunky Dory’s, Perri crisps and popcorn as well as private labels.
Over the next 25 years Sean took on new roles as Largo Foods grew, from production manager to factory manager to supply chain manager, during the Tayto brand purchase to the Intersnack involvement to the eventual purchase of Tayto brand by The Intersnack Group.
In 2018 Sean along with his brother Martin leveraged their experience in hand cooked crisps and potato growing to start up Loughbarn Farms Limited to make Clintons Artisan Crisps a hark back to crisps as they used to be, bold flavours, crunchy and all made with natural ingredients.
In this interview Sean Clinton discusses company history, a recent collaboration, challenges and much more.
Can you tell us a bit about Clinton’s Crisps?
Clintons Crisps started producing handmade Artisan crisps late in 2018 as a result of trying to diversify our family farm in Skerries from table potatoes to value added products from our farm grown potatoes.
Myself and my brother Martin wanted to get back to the traditional Irish Crisp that was very crunchy, full of flavour and paid homage to the humble potato and at the same time add our own twist by making them dairy and allergen free. We set up manufacturing in Ashbourne Co Meath and started distribution first locally, then through the Supervalu Food Academy, Tesco and BWG . We have five employees and are looking to increase this number as the business expands.
What are the challenges that you face in your business and how do you work to overcome them particularly in the current climate?
2020 was a very difficult year- after we tried to expand on the growth of 2019, we found many areas both in retail and Food Services very difficult to access, the same could be said for the first quarter of 2021 but through a lot of hard work, persistence and help and advice from the likes of Guaranteed Irish and Enterprise Ireland we see a lot of more doors opening as Irish people realise what great products are at their doorsteps.
Have you seen an increased demand for local foods in Ireland due to the Covid-19 pandemic?
There has been an increase in demand for local foods in Ireland especially as restrictions were reduced in the summer last year and in the last 2nd quarter of this year, with the inability to travel playing a large part in this and as people have tried their local foods they have come back for more almost like getting back there Irish identity in these difficult times.
Clinton’s recently collaborated with fellow Guaranteed Irish member Hope Beer on food pairings for Hope Beer’s Summer Seasonal Hazy Session IPA. How important is it for you to work with and support Irish businesses?
Collaboration with other food and beverage producers is a great way to introduce your product to a new range of customers, to get to try your products and also to share both in costs and experience as we all try to navigate through this pandemic.
How has Clinton’s Crisps benefited from being a member of Guaranteed Irish?
The Guaranteed Irish Logo is so synonymous with Irish quality and identity that it almost becomes a passport to increasing your reach and customer base as well as the support and awareness that it brings both with customers and other food producers.
What can we expect from Clinton’s Crisps in the future?
In the short term its all about consolidation as hopefully we are coming out of the worst of the Covid-19 restrictions and as people get back to a new normality and grow the business accordingly.
The medium to long term plans include new product ranges, increased distribution and with the help of Guaranteed Irish support to build a Irish brand that our potatoes deserve.