The Meade family holds a typical Irish potato farm. In 1977, Philip Meade started growing and selling potatoes in the town of Lobinstown. The first storehouse for potatoes was built in 1983, at the site where the company is still located today.
Both the product range and turnover have increased significantly in recent years’, says Eleanor Meade, the current business operations manager. With 340 people, Meade Farm today achieves a turnover of some 60 million euros. In addition to packaged potatoes, the company also supplies a complete range of fruit and vegetables, including fresh salads, freshly peeled produce and, recently, also potato starch. They deliver these products with their own vehicle fleet to the various customers throughout the country.
Sustainability is of paramount importance to the company. A private wind turbine on the farm provides 25 percent of the required power. Furthermore, there’s a lot of attention within the company for innovation, of which the starch programme is an example. The Meade family’s goal is to provide a wide range of products of good quality, and to reduce waste and increase product value. They have had this objective since 1983. Given the enthusiasm of the family and their staff, this won’t change quickly either ‘We’re the only starch producer in Ireland’, emphasises Meade. ‘Besides supplying other businesses, we also sell potato starch under our own brand in the supermarket. This is the most sustainable starch in Ireland. After all, it’s made from locally produced potatoes and the transport is restricted to places in our own country’, the manager explains. Meade Farm currently produces 2,500 tons of starch per year, and packages 35,000 tons of table potatoes annually. Innovation is also important in this respect. In 2018, a 100 percent compostable paper packaging was developed. ‘In 2020, we received the Green Award for Best Sustainable Packaging Strategy for our sustainable efforts’, says Meade proudly. Besides potatoes, the business supplies a complete package of potatoes/vegetables/fruit products, 90 percent of which are under private label and some under its own brand. They sell them to chain stores such as Lidl, Aldi, Iceland, Dunnes stores, BWG foods, Avondale foods and Supervalu. ‘We have a wide range of potatoes, from packaged to fresh, conventional and organic potatoes, and peeled potatoes. As a new product, we introduced fresh cut ‘skin on’ (with peel) French fries last year. This product has been well received in the market’, she says happily sharing their success. ‘We grow half of the required quantity of potatoes ourselves. Furthermore, we have about twenty growers with whom we work together. We package and transport all our products to our customers with our 38 trailers and our own drivers. With this, we’ve set a 99.98 percent on-time delivery record’, Meade is pleased to announce. Looking to the future, the company wants to increase automatisation. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to find good staff.
For this series, Jaap Delleman travelled to Ireland ahead of the World Potato Congress 2022 in Dublin (May 30 – June 2). A full, comprehensive preview was published in PotatoWorld 1, 2022.
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