Barry O’Neill – CEO, European Foods

Every step on Barry O’Neill’s journey has been a move up the career ladder.

“Each role has been taken with personal and professional growth in mind, making sure that my and the company’s values align,” he said. “I’m willing to take advice not only from industry leaders but also my colleagues.”

This journey has led him to his current role, CEO of European Foods. European Foods has supplied cured meats, cheeses, olives, grissini and gelato to New Zealand since 2012. The aim was to bring European restaurant experiences to New Zealand diners, offering consumers authentic European food.

O’Neill was attracted to the role due to the quality of the products, and the traditional story of handcrafted provenance which exists in each. He is now focussed on innovating European Foods, looking at line extensions that align with global and national trends. He wants to streamline the product offering and deliver a quality product in growth categories.

The benefits of the Mediterranean diet are all but gospel. Reduced risk of heart disease, reduced risk of certain cancers, improved brain health and even a lower chance of depression – all this coupled with tasty and visually appealing food. Antipasto platters are on trend as a quick and easy entertainment option where guests can take their time, eat as they choose and have any number of options and combinations – a key tenet of the Italian philosophy of “slow food.”

“My goal is to be the supplier of choice, to build strong relationships with clients and customers, and to deliver great products on time and at good prices.”

European Foods has an advantage in that it straddles the border between foodservice and retail. Chefs not only use the brands in their restaurants, but also at home. This dual presence means that European Foods has opportunities to encourage use in foodservice that provides consumers contact with the range and then allows them to purchase the products for home use. Sampling has played a core role in O’Neill’s strategy.

“Getting consumers to try the product is the biggest contributor to our brand growth,” he said. “It helps to create loyal customers and turns a casual buyer into a brand advocate.”

O’Neill plans to extend European Foods’ sales into more mid-range restaurants, developing more interaction between chefs and the company’s brands through its new state of the art kitchen facility where they can show chefs use for new products.