Based just outside Castleblayney, Co Monaghan, Annalitten Foods, which also trades as Annalitten Farm Eggs has been supplying quality fresh Irish Eggs since 1955. Irish Tractor & Agri learned more about the third generation family business from Michael O’Reilly recently.
These are busy times at Annalitten Farm Eggs but, then again, there’s seldom been a quiet time for the O’Reilly family and their thriving company since its inception.
Indeed business has been increasing year on year with production currently running at 330 cases an hour, which amounts to 115,000 eggs each and every hour that their machines are running down in Annalitten, Castleblayney.
The company has come from humble beginnings and grown into a major producer, currently employing 35 full-time staff, as co-director Michael O’Reilly explained to Irish Tractor & Agri recently.
“Right now there’s somewhere between 400,000 and 450,000 laying birds here, we process over two million eggs per week and we’ve recently taken on a new producer in David Miller,” Michael outlined.
“This has always been a family-run business and value and continued quality down through the years has been a key part of it.”
While the origins of the business date way back to 1955, the O’Reillys erected their first poultry unit in 1966.
After Patrick O’Reilly Snr’s death in 1978, his sons Michael and PJ took over the running of business and the rest, as they say, is history.
The third generations of O’Reillys are now involved, namely Michael’s sons Keith and Matthew, and PJ’s son Damien.
Annalitten Foods has earned a reputation for being one of the most experienced and trusted egg producers in the country by bringing you the best in quality and service. The company is continually audited by Bord Bia, the Department of Agriculture and the quality department of all the main multiples.
The family-run concern carries out farm audits on all its producers each month. This is to ensure that they meet the highest standards for welfare. The Department of Agriculture also carry out quality inspections on the packing centre and the producers at regular intervals throughout the year.
In addition to being a member of the Bord Bia Egg Quality Assurance Scheme, Annalitten Foods is accredited by Organic Trust and BRC’s Global Standard for Food Safety. Annalitten is also a member of the Irish Egg Marketing Board which represents the interests of the main egg packing companies in Ireland, who account for over 95 per cent of Irish table egg production.
With each passing year, the firm has experienced growth as production has been increased and Michael himself is looking ahead to 2020 with a great enthusiasm.
Five years ago, a new Moba 330 egg grading machine was installed at the company’s base and the state-of-the-art machine has the capacity to pack 120,000 eggs per hour.
It’s an investment which has certainly paid off over the past half-decade, according Michael.
“We’re still working off the machine that we brought in here in 2014 and since that time our production and staff numbers have continually increased,” he said.
“We’re running at 330 cases an hour and 115,000 eggs an hour which sees producing over 2 million eggs weekly.”
All of Annalitten’s organic eggs are sourced from Malachy and Olive Todd in Emyvale, Co Monaghan.
Their organic flock is fed on a premium vegetarian diet. The free range and organic egg market combined account for over 40 per cent of the Irish egg market and Annalitten is committed to meeting the growing appetite for these eggs.
Annalitten Foods’ growth has been boosted by contracts to supply leading retailers as well as independent retailers and wholesalers. The company also exports to the UK from time to time.
One of those leading retailers is Aldi supermarket, which Annalitten Foods has been contracted with for close to 15 years now.
Commenting on continued strong relationship his company has with Aldi, Michael wished to thank them “for their continued support down through the years”.
Indeed quality and value continues to be the name of the game for Annalitten Farms, as Michael outlined:
“As demand for our eggs increases, so too does our bird numbers. We source all our free range eggs from farmers, mainly in the Cavan and Monaghan area, but also in Meath, Offaly, Laois and Kilkenny. We have about 20 different farmers supplying us at present.
He also added that every farmer that supplies them with eggs must adhere to their policies when breeding hens.
“Our free range hens have the freedom to net, roam and forage over fresh green pastures. They are kept in small flocks and are carefully managed by experienced farming families.”
EU legislation means it has never been easier for consumers to identify exactly where each egg they buy comes from and how it was produced. Every egg is now individually stamped with a code which makes it fully traceable back to the farm where it was produced.
Annalitten Farms’ production facility is busier than it has ever been and Michael attributes this to increased egg consumption in Ireland.
“The consumption of eggs is on the rise,” he stated. “More and more people are turning to eggs for health reasons and also because they represent good value for money. They are also an extremely versatile food source. Eggs are high in nutrition, containing essential vitamins, minerals, protein and antioxidants.
“Research shows that the average Irish person consumes 160 table eggs per year. This figure is small compared to some European countries where 300 eggs per year are consumed. But all the signs are that egg consumption among the Irish is on the up and that’s obviously good news for producers like us.”
Great to hear.
First published in Irish Tractor & Agri magazine Vol 7 No 7, December 2019/January 2020