Archive for December, 2010

Apple Farm looks for potential to increase juice capabilities

Tuesday, December 21st, 2010

Irish Farmers Journal

By Peter Young

Apple Farm looks for potential to increase juice capabilities

Five apples out of every 100 eaten in this country are Irish. Yes, just five. I had to ask Con Traas to repeat that figure when he first told me. I had always assumed that we grew a lot more apples than that in Ireland.

I know some of the reason is down to seasonality but, still, it seems very, very low. The figure is even more startling when put in context that the retail value of apples sold in Ireland is around €121m.

Simple maths put the value of Irish apples at just €6m retail. There must be potential to increase this.

Con Traas of the Apple Farm believes there is. A member of the Irish Apple Growers Association, he told me there are about 40 commercial apple growers in the country.

About half of these are small-scale with just two to five acres of orchards. Con has increased the orchards on his farm to 32 acres and plans to increase this further.

Initially, the apples were sold locally, with a lot sold through their farm shop.

To add value, they started to look into processing apples into juice in 1995 and got a LEADER grant for about £10,000.

”It was a lot of money at the time,” remembered Con.

Investment has continued with new cold stores put in to store the apples for longer periods on the farm, extending the season that customers can get his Irish apples.

The latest in investment is a new processing room for juicing apples.

Focused on increasing efficiency and cutting production costs, Con is planning to spend €300,000 on the latest project.

He was approved for a 35% grant under the Department of Agriculture scheme for processing of agricultural products.

The business now employs 10 people full-time, with up to 28 local people working during the busy picking season.