Belfast pies boom after good rugby sales

Artisan pie-maker Jolly Pies has seen an increase in orders around Britain after visiting fans to Ulster rugby games, where they are sold, developed a taste for the handmade pies.

The popularity of the 10-strong range of gourmet pies rose after the Northern Irish company began supplying them at Ulster rugby games. Visiting fans enjoyed the pies in competitions such as the Heineken European Rugby Cup, which has led to orders from other caterers in Britain, such as at the London Irish Rugby Football Club.

Formed in 2013 by James McAllister and Stephen McComb, Jolly Pies has now also expanded into foodservice, supplying cafés, independent grocery stores and other outlets in Northern Ireland.  

James McAllister, managing director of Jolly Pies, said: “We’ve created a range of savoury pies that use only the best local ingredients, such as premium beef from grass-fed animals and free-range poultry, to meet a market opportunity from the growing demand from consumers seeking quality and safe products with heritage and provenance.

“Extremely encouraging feedback from our participation at markets and outdoor events, such as Ulster Rugby matches and the Giants ice hockey games, led us to approach retailers across Northern Ireland, especially in delis, independents and farm shops.”

The partners are looking forward to the forthcoming European Cup quarter final, in which Ulster will host London Saracens in Belfast.

“We’ve got our fingers and toes crossed that Ulster will make it all the way to the final, because that could mean even greater business for us,” added McAllister.

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