A small chocolate company in the Banner County has been awarded for its taste and quality.
Less than a year under the ownership of Darren, Sinead and Nathan O’Connor and Magic Mayan Chocolate has emerged onto the scene with their range of RAW, Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Soya Free, Vegan, Dark Chocolate treats. It won Bronze for their ‘Always Almond’ chocolate bar at the first ever Free From Food Awards held in Dublin Castle.
The Awards were set up by John Burke, an Irish businessman and coeliac, who has long been involved in the Free From world, both at home and in the UK. Emma Clarke Conway from Express PR, who has worked in the coeliac arena for over 12 years, presented the awards on the night. Magic Mayan was up against stiff competition who came from across Ireland, Scotland, England, Wales, Sweden and Czech Republic and took home Bronze in the chocolate category.
Darren O’Connor producer of the popular chocolate bar spoke to The Clare Herald following the awards ceremony. “The Always Almond bar is really unique, and I’m not surprised that out of our 14 flavours that this was a winner. You are really taken on a taste journey from the subtly sweet rich chocolate beginning, straight into the saltines and followed by the rich almond aftertaste, it’s hard to be beaten”.
A Dublin native, O’Connor points out that the business can find it hard to compete with other businesses due to a small advertising budget but is confident this will boost their profile. “Accolades and awards are great from boosting your profile and introducing your product to people who may have never heard of it. The food industry particularly Artisan is booming in Ireland, but as a result, it is really hard for the small fry’s with no advertising budget to stand out above the much larger companies who have the ability to drown you out. So in our case, we speak with the quality of our products. We use organic Cacao from Peru which is in my opinion a far superior bean in taste”.
Creativity is central to making a business work according to the Ennis resident. “In any business, there are always challenges, some greater than others. Generally, money can fix most of these issues but as a really small business with a really tight cashflow, you can’t just throw money at the problem. You have to get creative or hustle even harder than you already are to solve it. I currently stock ninety one stores/cafe’s and sales are really good. But now the issue is, to survive as a business we need to increase our margin without compromising on quality or passing the expense on to the end consumer”.
O’Connor says Magic Mayan has been well received in the County. “Magic Mayan is most popular in Clare. This is where it started, this is where it is easiest for me to engage with people/stores. Could it be more popular? Absolutely. But amongst the Vegan, Coeliac’s and FreeFrom communities, my chocolate would be very well known and liked”.
The Chocolate is sold mostly in Health Stores around the Country and some Gluten Free Cafe’s.
Magic Mayan was the original creation of Matthew Norrish. Being a type one diabetic and frustrated with the poor quality of available sweet options, he invented his own and Magic Mayan Chocolate was born. In 2015 Matthew handed the torch over to family Darren, Sinead and Nathan O’Connor, also based in Ennis Co. Clare.