Crack­ing a new mar­ket for or­ganic pro­duce

A Mon­aghan com­pany is tap­ping into grow­ing demand in the Mid­dle East for or­ganic eggs, writes

Irish Independent - Farming - - FINANCE -

‘MY busi­ness part­ner Adri­enne’s late fa­ther Paddy used to travel the roads on his bi­cy­cle de­liv­er­ing eggs in the 1960s, so our roots go back a long way.”

These are the words of Brian Eivers, co-owner of the Nest Box Egg Com­pany, which is based in Castle­blayney in Co Mon­aghan and is shortlisted for the Na­tional Or­ganic Food Awards in the ex­port cat­e­gory for its Golden Ir­ish Or­ganic Egg prod­uct.

The com­pany has come a long way since its hum­ble be­gin­nings of de­liv­er­ing eggs along wind­ing coun­try lanes over 50 years ago.

The Nest Box Egg Com­pany of­fi­cially came in to be­ing in 1999 when Foxbrook Free Range Eggs in Trim, Co Meath and Rock­fort Farm Eggs in Castle­blayney, Co Mon­aghan amal­ga­mated.

“We joined forces be­cause it made good busi­ness sense for us to pool re­sources.

“It made sense to in­vest and build our own pack­ag­ing premises so that we could supply to a larger mar­ket. We now pro­duce around 3.5 mil­lion eggs on a weekly ba­sis from our free-range hens,” says Brian.

These 3.5 mil­lion eggs are sold all over Ire­land and in to the UK, but one of the com­pany’s most re­cent suc­cess sto­ries has been its ex­pan­sion in to the Mid­dle East­ern mar­ket.

And this is one of the rea­sons Brian thinks that it has been nom­i­nated for the pres­ti­gious Ex­port Award.

Jour­ney

“We’ve been ex­port­ing in to the Mid­dle East since 2013. It’s an in­ter­est­ing jour­ney for us and grow­ing in im­por­tance for us.

“Sales are grow­ing there and the demand for or­ganic, free-range eggs is on the rise,” ex­plains Brian.

“Or­ganic eggs are im­por­tant to con­sumers there be­cause the ma­jor­ity of eggs in the Mid­dle East are pro­duced in very warm houses which are not con­ducive to good-qual­ity eggs.

“So we’ve gone from a very do­mes­tic-fo­cused mar­ket to in­creas­ingly ex­port-fo­cused in a rel­a­tively short space of time, which is very ex­cit­ing for us.”

For Brian and his busi­ness part­ner Adri­enne McGuin­ness, one of the ma­jor chal­lenges of be­ing an or­ganic pro­ducer is the avail­abil­ity of the right feed.

“It’s a very chal­leng­ing pro­duc­tion sec­tor to be in,” he says.

“Our hens can’t have con­ven­tional feed, they need or­ganic feed and it can be a chal­lenge to make sure they get all their nu­tri­ents, but our feed pro­duc­ers plant them with herbs to en­sure they get the right volume of nu­tri­ents in their di­ets.”

The Nest Box Egg Com­pany is among 20 com­pa­nies shortlisted by Bord Bia for the Na­tional Or­ganic Food Awards. The awards are hosted ev­ery sec­ond year by Bord Bia and the Depart­ment of Agriculture.

Win­ners will re­ceive a tai­lored sup­port pack­age from Bord Bia to as­sist in grow­ing their busi­nesses.

Karen Tyner, se­nior man­ager, food and bev­er­age, Bord Bia said: “The Ir­ish or­ganic mar­ket is cur­rently val­ued at over €200 mil­lion and the global ex­port mar­ket is set to jump in value to €224 bil­lion by 2022.

“In­no­va­tive prod­ucts are con­tin­u­ing to con­trib­ute to growth in the sec­tor and con­sumers are seek­ing more op­por­tu­ni­ties to choose or­ganic.

“These awards recog­nise pro­duc­ers and man­u­fac­tur­ers whose prod­ucts dif­fer­en­ti­ate them­selves in the mar­ket­place to meet this grow­ing con­sumer demand both at home and in­ter­na­tion­ally.”

WE HAVE GONE TO BE­ING IN­CREAS­INGLY EX­PORT FO­CUSED IN A SHORT SPACE OF TIME

PHOTO: CHRIS BELLEW

Brian Eivers and Stu­art Whit­ton of the Nest Box Egg Com­pany.

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