Writes Leo McMahon
Griffin’s Potatoes have invested for the future with confidence with the development of a new packaging facility on the family farm at Boycestown near Carrigaline.
Costing almost €1 million, the spacious, bright and insulated new extension is fitted with state-of-the-art equipment to ensure an even more efficient farm to fork operation.
As pointed out by managing director Jim Griffin and his son John, company secretary, it includes a UK made Tong potato grader, a German manufactured Upmatic bagger and a Dutch made Verbruggen palletizer for stacking produce ready for delivery.
The new facility complements the adjoining one built 20 years ago but will significantly increase the rate of packing to up to 15 bags of any size per minute, said John.
‘We started organising it last autumn and building commenced in March,’ said Jim. ‘All the equipment was ready for installing when delivered during the summer and the whole lot fitted over two weeks in July.’
Griffin’s grow all their potatoes in about 200 acres of rented land on different farms in South and East Cork and the process includes de-stoning and digging, planting, weekly spraying and harvesting.
‘When we’re harvesting, we fill the boxes there and then in the field and bring these directly to our large, purpose built refrigeration store where the potatoes are dried and brought to a temperature of three degrees, thereby ensuring top quality fresh produce all year round’, said Jim.
The potatoes are brought out of the fridge for two days and kept in the older section which still contains another Tong grader, a weigher and washer/dryer before moving on an inspection roller table into the new facility which also houses a Manter weigher.
‘Over the years, we’ve seen pack sizes getting smaller,’ said John, ‘One time there were 25kg bags, then it went down to 20kg. Shoppers now have a choice of 10kg, 7.5kg, 5kg and 2.5kg bags.
All produce, except 2.5kg (in plastic), are in strong paper bags, each of which carries the Bord Bia Quality Assured symbol. It’s also worth noting that Griffin’s Potatoes are accredited under the Bord Bia Sustainable Horticulture Assurance Scheme (SHAS).
The South Cork enterprise has around 60 retail and wholesale customers throughout Munster, from major supermarkets to greengrocers and corner shops.
Jim and John are delighted with the company’s investment which perfectly complements the existing plant and is both remarkable and brave bearing in mind it was all achieved during Covid restrictions.
Griffin’s Potatoes is a third generation family business comprising of Jim and his wife Rose, John and his wife Martina and three full time workers Marek and Zibby, who are brothers; and Bernard O’Keeffe, the latter of whom is the delivery truck driver.
‘Thirty years ago, said Jim, there were 100 commercial growers in Munster and today there’s less than 30. The business continues to enjoy great support locally and one of its longest running customers is Barry Collins SuperValu, Carrigaline.
‘I can remember back in the 1950’s and 1960’s, the late Barry Collins himself calling out to the family farm at Brownstown in a green Austin van to collect potatoes and we’re supplying the same business ever since’, said Jim.
David Collins, managing director of Barry Collins SuperValu said that to mark the exciting development of the new production facility at Griffins Potatoes, Barry Collins SuperValu will be offering Griffin’s Rooster and Kerr’s Pink 7.5kg bags at the reduced price of only €4.99 from December 9th to Christmas Eve.
All potatoes have been harvested since November but it’s a busy time at the newly extended plant at Boycestown right now with a guaranteed Irish selection of the very best for the table this festive season from a company highly regarded for its reliability and standard of service dating back over 75 years when it was founded by Jim’s father Sean Griffin at nearby Brownstown in 1944.
The humble spud is easy to prepare. It can be cooked and served in many forms (boiled, steamed, mashed, baked, roasted, chipped and flavoured with garlic, cheese etc.), is high in Vitamin C, an ideal source of potassium, fibre and energy, gluten free and fat free.
Find out more about Griffin’s Potatoes on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. They’re delicious and good for you!