Feighery’s Farm Beetroot Juice: homegrown superfood in a bottle

August 24, 2023

Anne Marie's coveted beet juice stocks the shelves of national supermarkets with the support of loyal fans and community

Back in the day, beet juice was a niche drink for people in-the-know, such as folks who drink it for lower blood pressure and athletes who want it for improved performance. Ann Marie Feighery is changing that, with homegrown juice sold on store shelves nationwide.

Farming Roots

There’s no denying that we live in a global economy, with big-box and internet shopping, but local community is the glue that holds it all together. With only 7% of the population fully employed in agriculture, Offaly native Ann Marie Feighery counts her family lucky to have a busy small farm with locals who rely on them for quality produce. For years, the family sold their vegetables to local shops, but when the local veg shop closed for good, they needed to find a new way to provide area residents with locally-grown produce.

“2004 really was the first time the farmers’ market started,” said Anne Marie. She added that the family considered opening their own shop, but with everyone busy on the land, they didn’t have time to keep a store open daily.

Anne Marie credits the success of the market to customers of all ages. “The farmers’ market has grown year after year, because of not just the older generation, but all generations.” Other producers, too, recognized the opportunity to sell their products, and before long, bakers and sellers of shrubs and flowers started their own stands. Nowadays, visitors and locals alike can visit the Fresh Food Market every Saturday morning at the Market Square.

As the popularity of such markets’ has grown, Feighery’s Family Farm has added stands in Kilbeggan and Portumna.

Owning a business

Even as a young person, Anne Marie knew she wanted to own her own business one day. Getting a job after university posed a challenge to becoming an entrepreneur. “Stability puts things off,” she said, but beet juice came “at the perfect time.” Emphasizing the opportunity to combine a love of healthy food and a healthy lifestyle, family, community, and fitness as motivators, she says the highlight is “having a business that’s homegrown, where I grew up…that has all the components that I value in life, connecting childhood and home, reconnecting with that.”

“I was itching to do something for myself” is how Anne Marie describes her state of mind when, one day in 2019, her father sparked a conversation about the health benefits of beet juice. So she went investigating and found out that despite Ireland’s climate being ideally suited for growing beets, all the beet juices she found on store shelves were imports. Not only that, but her family already grew beets on their land.

With a little help from the folks at Teagasc Food Research Center, Anne Marie knew for sure that there’s a market for 100% Irish-grown beet juice. But she still needed the equipment and know-how for making juice, and it was too expensive to buy expensive juicing equipment for an untested product, so she turned to Con Traas at The Apple Farm in Tipperary – a veteran juice maker. With a bit of experimentation, they found that a blend of 70% pesticide-free beet juice and 30% apples makes the ideal bottle of beet juice. Less than a year later, they produced the first 10,000 bottles of what John & Sally McKenna’s guide has labeled a “slap-up, thirst-slaking masterpiece.”

Rolling out a new product carries a lot of uncertainty. But the awards started rolling in straight away, bringing home the Silver Label in the 2019 and 2020 Blás na hÉireann food awards and both Gold Prize and Product of the Year at the 2021 Irish Quality Food and Drink Awards, among others – recognition that Ms. Feighery credits alongside the support of family and the local community as motivating to keep going.

“Local community loves to see a local family starting up a new business and to get behind them. And they definitely got behind me and my family.”

Difference between expectations and reality, for beet juice, is a positive one.

Despite many health benefits – thanks to being an excellent source of folic acid, potassium, vitamins A and C, iron, nitrates, calcium, and antioxidants – people are sometimes wary of the flavor. Many think it’ll be pickly, not sweet and slightly earthy. Anne Marie says that for a lot of first-timers, their reaction was “a bit of a shock.”

“People didn’t think they’d like it, but then they’d taste it and say it’s ‘a lot different than I perceived it to be.’” Nowadays, she adds, “the concept of beetroot juice isn’t as alien…. there’s still people who haven’t tried it…but there’s a lot of press and coverage…people are starting to hear about it.”

“People know that if they buy the juice that they’re supporting the farm. They know that people own the farm.”

Asked if it’s a close-held secret which apples they use, Anne Marie replied that it’s entirely seasonal, with the apples changing depending on what’s ripe during each beet harvest, so the flavor changes ever so subtly with each bottling. So while you don’t need to be a connoisseur to enjoy it, you might notice some bottles have a little extra sweetness with no added sugar.

Sustainable, 100% Irish-grown juice

Feighery’s newest release is the Beet Bullet – super concentrated beet juice mostly (but not exclusively) for athletes. In line with her mission to be sustainable, there are no throwaway plastics.

“Ours come in a glass bottle. There’s numerous shots in a single bottle, and they come with a shot glass… so they’re much more sustainable.”

You don’t have to be a pro to drink Beet Bullet, but Anne Marie says research suggests nitrate loading up to 6 days before a race to improve running economy or cycling efficiency – be it a marathon or other competition. Drinking a shot 2 to 3 hours before a long run also helps.

And you aren’t limited to just downing beet shots, either: it goes easily into other foods, such as overnight oats – “which is absolutely delicious,” adds Anne Marie.

Check out her Instagram for recipes and news, and the website for a list of stores nearest you.

Related News