My name is Cornelius (Con for short) Traas. I got my unusual name from my parents, who were Dutch, and came from the Netherlands to Ireland to begin farming in 1967. They set up a horticultural business, which now concentrates on growing fruits, with apples our most-grown crop.
What inspired you to join the natural health sector?
As a consequence of growing apples, we began making juice in the 1990’s. Once you have juice, a natural next step was to make cider. From there, the next step is to make cider vinegar. I was inspired to begin making cider vinegar firstly by people calling to our farm-shop, who were telling us of the health benefits, and suggesting we try making it, as there was no Irish-made cider vinegar available at the time.
Where did you get the idea for your brand?
The brand name is the farm identity in this area. People locally call our farm “The Apple Farm”, so we adopted that name, and added the location indication “of Tipperary”, hopefully to avoid confusion.
What makes your brand unique?
Our cider vinegar is made start-to-finish on our farm. We grow our apples in a very sustainable way, using what is called integrated fruit production. The apples, once harvested, go to the juice-press in a barn on the farm, where the juice is extracted. Then the juice is fermented to cider, and the cider is then converted to cider vinegar by the acetobacter (mother of vinegar). The last step is to bottle and label it, before offering it for sale. Because all these steps happen at our farm, there is no unnecessary transportation of apples, juice or cider, as would happen in a large-scale operation.
What are your company’s core values?
Sustainability and integrity. We aim to offer genuine value to the consumer, while protecting the environment, and producing health-promoting products.
How do you support your community?
Apart from supporting about 25 jobs directly on our little farm, we engage with the community by providing free educational tours for schools, and each autumn we give away about 6000 apples to our local schools at Halloween.
What has been the most rewarding part of your brands journey?
There are many high-points. Getting a listing in Fortnum & Mason in London a few years ago was a nice vindication of our product quality.
What in your opinion makes Irish brands unique?
I think many Irish brands have genuine producer stories behind them. They are authentic, rather than just a nice marketing story.
What is your favourite product from your brand?
Possibly the fresh cherries we grow. They are incredibly tasty, good for health, and unfortunately, available for just a few weeks each year.
Tell us about something that has shaped your brand?
The principles that I inherited from my parents shaped my personality, which in turn probably found its way into my brand.
What do you hope to accomplish in the future?
I am Chair of the Irish Apple Growers Association, and was until recently Chair of the Tipperary Food Producers Network. What I like to contribute to is a strong, diverse and successful food culture in Ireland, and if I can do this through my voluntary activities I’m very satisfied.
The Apple Farm Irish Cider Vinegar is available in Evergreen Stores and online: https://evergreen.ie/collections/the-apple-farm