Schull and Crossbones is Ireland’s first and only producer of dairy-free yoghurt alternatives. The products are also lactose-free and vegan friendly and are produced in Schull, West Cork by Danny O’Regan.
Danny has a degree in dairy science from University College Cork and has worked in the cheese and yoghurt sector in Ireland, UK, Denmark, France, Germany and Australia for over 25 years. While in Australia he saw the emergence, and growth in popularity of dairy-free yoghurts. At that time, he was also thinking about returning to Schull and during a skype call with his youngest brother Paul, he learned of the SuperValu Food Academy. They registered to attend the academy and Danny flew back and forth from Melbourne to Cork to attend the four academy module while Paul was putting the production plant together in Schull.
When Danny returned to Ireland permanently, he set about developing a yoghurt recipe for the Irish market. He chose coconut milk as the base for the yoghurt, rather than soy or almond, because coconut is allergen-free. (Coconut is classified as a fruit, not a nut!). Developing the actual product involved testing coconut milks from different parts of the world and trialling various thickeners to add viscosity and mouthfeel to the yoghurt alternative.
The result of this development means that the unflavoured product contains only three ingredients – coconut milk, tapioca starch (to thicken) and starter culture (to ferment). There is no added sugar.
The name Schull and Crossbones has its origins in O’Regan’s pub in Schull, over a quiet pint on a sunny, Spring, Sunday afternoon. Danny was talking with one of the older regulars about the coconut yoghurt project when the man asked “I suppose you’ll be getting the coconuts from Schull harbour”. Danny initially thought that he had misunderstood, but further discussion revealed the story of the shipwreck that was discovered in Schull harbour in 2012. A maritime archaeologist, while investigating the wreck discovered coconuts, in near perfect condition, in the hold of the ship. Upon doing some further research, she believes the ship – which was probably on its way from the Caribbean to England - sank in Schull harbour, possibly in bad weather, in 1625 after being commandeered by a Dutch Pirate.
Schull, pirate, coconuts…Schull and Crossbones
In addition to the unflavoured yoghurt alternative, Danny plans to grow the range by including new and exotic extracts and fruits and also create employment and career opportunities in West Cork.
The business, the products, the production plant and the brand, would not be possible without the gratefully received support from SuperValu’s Food Academy and the Cork North West Local Enterprise Office.