Pat Reynolds & Sons Ltd have been supplying their various varieties of potatoes to a large customer base for many decades now. This family run business is at the forefront of potato growing.
Like any grower, the Meath based business is seasonal but their aim constantly stays the same. That is to be successful in every element of growing and packing potato and vegetable produce.
That continues to be the plan for Pat Snr and his sons with one of them, Shane outlining the current state of business.
“Business is good and has been good for the last couple of years now. It’s very wet this time of year and that can affect things too but, overall, it has been good,” said Shane. “The price of potatoes has been up and down recently.”
The Irish know their potatoes better than anyone, so the Reynold’s take great pride in the care and skill with which they grow potatoes. They give their potatoes all the attention they need to ensure they arrive on the consumer’s plate in prime condition. They strive to provide the highest quality potatoes which meet the standards of the Irish consumer, while being mindful of the environment. Their passion for producing the best keeps them focused and promotes continuous improvement.
The potato cycle begins in March/April when planting takes place, followed by the harvesting in September/October. In between, the potatoes are sprayed every 10 days to control and prevent the spread of potato blight, which can wipe out a crop overnight.
The Reynolds’ grow a variety of potatoes to suit every taste. These include Lady Rosetta, Kiebitz, Verdi, Rooster, Maris Piper and Salad Potatoes amongst others.
Red-skinned, yellow-fleshed, easy to cook any way and hardy, Roosters are the most widely grown potato in Ireland which are traditionally harvested from August through November.
Once the potatoes are harvested, they are washed, graded and packed in Reynolds’ state-of-the-art packhouse, which offers ideal handling and storage conditions. The potatoes are stored at a temperature of 3°C.
“The growing conditions have been very good so we’re expecting another big crop this year. But the problem when you have a big crop is that it can lead to oversupply in the marketplace and lower prices for the grower.
“It’s difficult to find a happy medium. The business is getting tougher and tougher because of increased competition and less consumption.”
Shane feels that the fall of consumption is critical in recent years as people’s attitude towards the potato has changed over the years.
“The consumption of potatoes is falling in this country and we can’t allow this to continue. Potatoes can be just as convenient and as easy to prepare as rice, pasta or frozen potato products. They are widely accepted as a ‘feel good’ food that satisfies hunger for longer.
“There is also a perception that potatoes are fattening, which isn’t the case at all. This is a misconception that needs to be addressed. In addition, potatoes are an ideal source of energy for an active lifestyle and go hand-in-hand with all the traditional meals we have in this country.”
Pat Reynolds & Sons have a number of customers, but two of their longest serving clients are Tayto Snacks (formerly Largo Foods) and Dennigans.
“We are supplying Tayto Snacks for the best part of 40 years, while we would be long time suppliers to Dennigans as well.”
Tayto Snacks operates a powerhouse of iconic Irish brands including Tayto, Hunky Dory, King, KP, and Perri. The portfolio comprises of 39 household brands where Tayto Snacks has a majority share of the crisps and snacks market. Quality is paramount to the organisation and Tayto Snacks has an excellent track record in producing Ireland’s best quality snacks. As a business, they make every effort to serve their customers with products of the best quality and great taste.
Dennigans’ are close to their suppliers, many of whom are exclusive producers for Sam Dennigan and Company, both in Ireland and abroad. Their own agronomy team work closely with all of our partners to ensure that only produce of the highest quality reaches the table. The continuing growth of their business network, which now spans every continent and boasts international expertise in the shipping of fresh produce, is testament both to the strength of their brand and the satisfaction of their customers.
Producing anywhere between 12,000 to 14,000 tonnes of potatoes per annum means that the Reynolds family need a vast amount of land to plant and harvest.
Of course, a lot of the excellent work carried out is also down to the machinery Pat and his sons opt for in order to harvest their potatoes and vegetables.
“We harvest about 800 acres at the moment. It can be difficult to source land at times, but we manage to do so. There are ten employed here and we try to keep the fleet of machinery upgraded on a regular basis in order to avoid any unnecessary downtime.”
The one area that potato growers are at the mercy of is the weather and Shane admitted that there was not much they can do about it.
“You are at the mercy of the weather and we have cut back our acreage due to bad weather in recent years, but we are still happy with our workload. There are many issues to be dealt with and Brexit is something that could have a big impact on us yet.
“Sourcing temporary staff is another issue for us also. There is plenty of work out there now, so people are more selective and are looking for permanent work.”
Pat Reynolds & Sons
Tel: (046) 902 3989
Taken from Irish Tractor & Agri magazine Vol 7 No 7, Dec 2019/Jan 2020