John Commins started as a farmer and has since become an award-winning food producer.
In 2005, artisan farmer and food producer, John Commins began farming Piedmontese cattle, a breed mainly snow-white in colour and native to Italy, from his 120-acre family farm, located near Thurles in Co. Tipperary. He now supplies this award-winning high-end beef into supermarkets, restaurants and online across Ireland. Here, John talks about the journey he has travelled and his plans to grow the business into the future.
“The beef contains fewer calories and less cholesterol than chicken.”
What is Irish Piedmontese beef?
Over a decade and a half ago, I travelled to Italy to source our initial breeding stock. Piedmontese are impressive cattle but what impressed me most was the eating quality of the meat – and the surprising fact that it contains fewer calories and less cholesterol than that of chicken. It also has the lowest fat percentage in the meat of any description, with even less fat than salmon or venison. The reason for this is due to a natural change that developed in the breed about 200 years ago. It’s down to a myostatin gene that all cattle have but with which Piedmontese beef are doubly endowed – a trait which has been refined by Italian cattle breeders over the years.
“I leased a unit, buying all of the equipment we needed and employed our own butcher to work for us.”
Why did you go into the food business?
At the time there was a very lucrative trade from Ireland to Italy for ‘E’ and ‘U’ grade lean type weanlings. Initially, we considered supplying our weanlings back to the Italian market, and although the Italians were very interested in buying them, we were unable to supply at the volumes required. From tasting, I knew it was fabulous meat and that