Cracking a new market for organic produce
A Monaghan company is tapping into growing demand in the Middle East for organic eggs, writes
‘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.
“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
Brian Eivers and Stuart Whitton of the Nest Box Egg Company.