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Meade Potato Company Scoops Fruit and Vegetable Agribusiness of the Year as well as Prepared Foods Agribusiness of the Year
Meade Potato Company has won the Fruit and Vegetable Agribusiness of the Year at the Agribusiness Awards held at the Ballsbridge Hotel in Dublin on Thursday, November 9. In presenting the award the independent judging panel from the academic, semi-state, local government and private sectors commended the company on their family farm ethos and their sustainability. This is their third year to win this accolade.
The company was also a new entrant in the Prepared Foods category, having started a Prepared Foods Division in 2016 specialising in peeled potatoes for the foodservice, catering and retail markets. Winning in this category, Robert Devlin of Meade Potato Company, commented, “We were delighted to win this award as well, given that this is a relatively new venture for us that has filled a gap in the foodservice market and advanced our sustainability significantly.”
Other agri-food award winners on the night included Clonakilty Food Co., Manor Farm and Dawn Meats.
Meade Potato Company are growers, packers and distributors that employ 240 people from their farm in Lobinstown, County Meath. The family business was established in 1982 and specialises in growing potatoes and carrots but also work with a team of growers that enable them to offer the full range of fresh produce to retailers ncountrywide. Their recent expansion into Prepared Foods has seen them enter the Foodservice and Catering markets with their freshly peeled potatoes. They were also recently commended at the Irish Quality Food and Drink Awards for their potatoes, the only potatoes to receive a commendation on the night.
BEHIND THE SCENES WITH THE SPUD: Meade Potato Co. opens its doors to celebrate National Potato Day
In advance of National Potato Day on Friday, October 6, Meade Potato Company has opened its doors with “Behind the Scenes with the Spud” tours to encourage people to appreciate the potato, its versatility and the excellent nutritional benefits it offers.
On Thursday, September 28, Meade Potato Company welcomed the 5th and 6th class students of Heronstown N.S. and Newtown N.S. for a field to fork tour of their farm and food production facility. Farm Manager Conor O’Malley brought them into a field of Rooster potatoes where he explained the fundamentals of growing. They then followed the journey of the spud as it enters the packhouse and is bagged in preparation for dispatch to their customers. A quiz by the Meade QA Manager on the different varieties revealed that there were many spud lovers in the audience who knew their stuff when it comes to spuds. A trip to the Meade Prepared Foods Division also allowed them to witness the journey of those spuds that get peeled and sent on to foodservice and catering customers. The children were able to witness starch being extracted from the potato peelings for sale onwards to food ingredient and clothing companies. They learned how these complementary businesses help ensure as much of the potato as possible is used with a view towards maximum sustainability.
Students heard about the many ways the company aims to be as green as possible. From its zero food waste status to its new water filtration system to its widespread use of skylights and work with community foodbanks, Meade Potato Co. showed examples of how they have tried to manage their resources efficiently. “I was really impressed by how tuned into being green the children were. It’s great to see that awareness at a young age; hopefully this will carry through all their lives,” observed Jeni Meade who conducted the tour.
After a brief tour of the Fruit and Vegetable Division, the students heard about the many nutritional benefits of the potato and got a well-deserved meal and goody bag of fruit, veg and potatoes to bring home. “Our aim was to ensure the children appreciated how good for you potatoes are – more fibre than two slices of brown bread, more potassium than a banana and loads of Vitamin C, B1 and B6. With any luck, they will demand potatoes at every meal from now on!” said Eleanor Meade on the day.
Combining efforts to promote National Potato Day and celebrate the bountiful food of the Boyne Valley, the company also hosted a Boyne Valley Food Series event in honour of the spud on Friday, September 29. With an array of foodies from near and far, the guests went behind the scenes with the spud from the field to the fork. Sustainability and nutrition were covered during the tour, which ended with a feast celebrating the spud. Using the produce of fellow Boyne Valley food producers was an important part of the meal experience; guests enjoyed artisan sausages from the Whole Hogg based in Slane, carrots freshly harvested from the Meade fields and apple juice from Stameen Farm (with some sampling of their Dan Kelly’s Cider for the non-drivers!). But the star of the show was the spud, which went global for the meal. Showcasing the versatility of the spud is a main aim of National Potato Day so the spud was offered here in traditional ways of mashed, chipped and champ, as well as Swedish Hasselback potatoes, French Dauphinois and Indian curried potatoes. “It was brilliant to see the spud used in so many dishes; it really is such a versatile and nutritional food. We thoroughly enjoyed the meal and the tour,” said visitor Gerry Farrell.
Rounding out celebrations was a Dig Your Dinner Day at the Heronstown National School where allt he students went out to the school garden and dug up the rooster potatoes they had planted earlier in the year. Fresh spuds were enjoyed all around Lobinstown on National Potato Day - goal achieved!
National Potato Day is a nationwide effort of potato growers in association with Bord Bia to publicise the many health benefits of the potato and its versatility as an important part of the Irish diet.
Family Fun Day at the Farm
Making full use of the Meade Potato Company store which is being transformed for the Hoedown in Lobinstown that night, local parents committees have organised a fundraiser to be held prior to the Hoedown from 1-4pm on Saturday 20th August; activities include a mini tractor grand prix, free farm & factory tours of Meade Potato Company, a junior barn dance, face painting, a farm machinery display and a magic & puppet show suitable for all ages. All of these are included in the admission price of €5 per person, with children going free and all proceeds going to fund local schools. Also on offer on the day will be penalty shootouts, sponge throws and pony rides. From racing around a custom built course on toy tractors to seeing the field to fork journey of the spud at the Meade Farm, to enjoying a magic and puppet show in the Hoedown barn, there are activities to cater for all ages and interests on the day.
In what has been a bumper season for Meade Potato Company, we have claimed the Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Agribusiness of the Year Award at the Agribusiness Awards held on Dec. 8th at the Doubletree Hilton Dublin. Having an award that recognises the hard work that goes into bringing Irish consumers premium quality fruit and veg from field to fork is particularly gratifying to us as we primarily sell through our retailers own brands. This award recognises the companies that work behind the scenes, and we are delighted to give the credit to our amazing staff and our team of growers for all their efforts to bring the best to the plate of Irish consumers.
We were also nominated for the Best Sustainability Award and the Health and Safety Award, two areas upon which we have been focusing for some time now. These nominations also meant that we were one of four companies to be nominated for the Agribusiness of the Year.
Picture Left: Directors of the Meade Potato Company accept their Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Agribusiness of the Year Award from sponsors Sunday Business Post on Tuesday 8thDecember at the Hilton Hotel, Dublin. Left to right: Patrick Meade, Meade Potato Company; Eleanor Meade, Meade Potato Company; Noel Killeen, Sunday Business Post; Robert Devlin, Meade Potato Company.