Blanco Niño is building Europe’s first real corn tortilla factory in Ireland. They plan to have over 600 acres of farmland growing high quality non GMO corn maize for their products giving a much needed boost to the Irish farming sector, in addition to creating 30 jobs at their production facility in Fingal in north county Dublin.
The Blanco Niño project is the brainchild of Dublin born Philip Martin and we caught up with him to find out how things are going.
Q1 Hi Philip. Can you tell me a bit more about Blanco Niño. Where did the idea come from?
Its quite simple really, when setting up my Mexican restaurant (Little Ass Burrito Bar) in Dublin I found myself quite puzzled and frustrated with not being able source great real corn tortillas. So I decided to make my own, and set out on what is now become known as the tortilla revolution. Maybe its just me but if I can’t find a product or service I want my natural reaction is ‘well I’ll do it myself then’.
Q2 Nixtamalisation is a term I’m sure many of our readers won’t be familiar with. Can you tell us a bit more about it and what type of research has gone into creating the perfect corn tortilla?
Nixtamalization is an ancient cooking method developed by the lovely people of Mesoamercia over three thousand years ago. Its essentially the cooking of maize in a limestone solution which transforms maize from being a relatively indigestible plant into an incredibly flavoursome, nutritiously rich and easily digestible food. As natural cooking methods go Nixtamalistion is pretty damn incredible.
To learn the art that is making incredible tortilla I embarked on a bit of Mexican food adventure, soaking up every piece of information relating to corn growing, cooking and eating I came across. I went to Mexico and visited the corn farms, the local neighbouring corn mills and work along aside anyone making tortillas that would have me. I spent time with street vendors that would grind the cooked corn and shape the tortillas by hand, guys producing tortillas out of what could only be described as a small badly insulated mechanics workshop, and from there the whole way up the very big guys producing tortillas in industrial sized sterile clean room facilities with completely automated production equipment. I learnt a great deal from every person I met and place I visited.
Q3 Crop farmers in this country would surely welcome the boost a new product like this could provide. What scale of crop production do you envision Blanco Niño needing and how many jobs do you think you can create overall?
Under current projections I expect to require around 600 acres of Irish farm land and to employ around 30 people by year 5. But in my opinion these projections are ever conservative and I hope to hit these targets much sooner.
Q4 Initially will you just serve the Irish market or are you planning to expand past that?
Yes, Blanco Niño is going to be very much export focused from day one, with the plan to serve the whole European market in time.
Q5 To fund the project you have started a crowdfunding campaign. Can you tell me some more about that and how people can get involved?
So right now we’re currently at the funding stage and seeking investors via the crowd equity investment platform crowd cube. Basically anyone that invests today can expect a potential ROI multiple of 10. Meaning if you invest £1 today it is projected to have a valuation of £11 in year 5. Which we think is a pretty incredible return. But don’t take our word for it, our full finance forecasts and business plan are available to the general public via http://www.crowdcube.com/investment/blanco-nino-14836 if you’re interested.
Q6 You are also planning to invest a portion of your profits back into sustaining South American farming. Tell us some more about this commendable initiative.
I believe the best way to improve the lot of people in general is by enabling them, and in my opinion the best way to enable someone is through education. That’s the core of what I hope to do. I hope to not only invest in sustainable farmers in the region but also to encourage entrepreneurship and impart the business skills I see as being essential to the enabling of them to manage their farms successfully into the long run, without the help of anyone else. This allows them to become masters of their own destiny.
Q7 To find out more about the project or for general queries what is the best way of getting in contact with you?
If you’re interested in investing you can check out: http://www.crowdcube.com/investment/blanco-nino-14836
Or if you fancy a chat with myself personally you can reach me at: [email protected]
If you would like to have your company featured in the Irish Tech News Business Showcase get in contact with me on [email protected]