Hatton Produce diversifying and moving with the times

11 Apr , 2024  

Hatton Produce is an exceptional third-generation family business based in Ballyeden, County Wexford and synonymous with growing high-quality potatoes and cereal. To futureproof this model family farming enterprise, the Hattons have also diversified into dairy. We touched base with Henry and Serena to get an update.

In farming, to stand still is to regress and the Hatton family in County Wexford have made positive changes to their business to make it more varied and less volatile, safeguarding Hatton Produce against whatever speedbumps the economy might throw at a farm focused solely on crops.

To supplement their well-established potato and cereal growing business, the Hattons have expanded into dairy to create a very efficient and professionally-run mixed farming enterprise. The dairy enterprise, which has been successfully up and running for over three years, producing milk for Arrabawn, currently comprises a herd of 350, a 30-unit parlour and a 400-unit cubicle shed.

“We built a whole new yard for the dairy and it was a major investment,” reveals Serena Hatton, who works at Hatton Produce alongside brothers Henry and Robin as well as their father Stephen and mother Marina. “We started at the dairy in September, 2020.

“We had a mobile parlour before that but invested in a completely new set-up and Robin came home to run the dairy side of things. With the dairy business, we are busy all year around, doing a lot of winter milking.”

Hatton Produce had been growing Christmas trees for more than a decade but have decided to instead focus on dairy to supplement their long-established potato, corn, wheat, barley, rape, beet and maize growing business. They grew 380 acres of potatoes in 2023 and it was a very successful year on the spud front, with high-quality potatoes produced for Tayto Snacks, Country Crest, Sam Dennigan, Peter Keogh & Sons and Meade Potatoes. In another landmark development, Hatton Produce have also started to supply fresh potatoes from their farm to Tayto Group in Northern Ireland.

“The price of potatoes has also gone up, which is obviously a good thing for growers,” says Henry. “We’re as busy as we’ve ever been with the spuds and getting that contract with Tayto in the North has been a welcome boost.”

Hatton Produce grow a number of potato varieties, including a lot of Roosters and Golden Wonders plus Kerr’s Pinks and Queens for the packers as well as Lady Claire, Lady Rosetta and Verdi for Tayto.

Stephen took over the running of the family farm in 1986, with the late Alfie Hatton having started out before him as a sheep farmer and cereal grower. Today, as well as Stephen, Marina, Henry, Robin and Serena, direct full-time employment is generated on the mixed farm at Davidstown, Enniscorthy for another four team members.

“Fran, Colm, Teddy and Conor have all been with us long-term and are like family themselves at this stage. They are great lads and we would be lost without them,” Serena notes.

Of course, 2023 was a poor year for tillage. This in itself shows the value in Hatton Produce’s progressive move to broaden their horizons and avoid falling into the trap of being caught with all their proverbial eggs in one, or even two baskets. “If you have a bad year in one, then you should be okay,” Serena comments. “Moving into dairy was a logical step for us. Robin is very passionate about the cows and it’s great to have him home. The rest of us help out with milking, too, and it’s a team effort.”

The Hattons are the embodiment of a traditional Irish farming family, who work hard and make an honest living off the land. One could even say that farming is in their DNA. “You could say that. And we pull together and we’re all on hand 365 days a year.”

Nothing comes easy in any labour- and capital-intensive enterprise. What is the secret of success at Hatton Produce? “Hard work, and everything comes back to family,” Serena continues. “It’s very difficult to get people who want to do farming these days; most people are getting away from it. Nobody wants to do it, so only for family, it would be hard to continue.”

Henry continues: “They all want to work 9 to 5, but that’s not going to happen in farming.” To the contrary, the hours are long and irregular. 5am starts are par for the course and Stephen and Henry could be off on the road at 2 or 3am many mornings. “Daddy does a lot of driving and he got a second lorry last year, which was another good move. You have to put the work in and the family are all here to do that.”

Reflecting on what will be remembered as a wash-out year for crops, Serena continues: “Tillage was tough this year. Corn was really bad. I honestly don’t think the government realise how hard it is. My father said that in his living memory this was the wettest harvest of potatoes he has seen. It was difficult with the weather and it caused delays both when sowing and harvesting.”

Hatton Produce came through it, as they always do, everybody pulling together, and 2024 will be a new year. With the business more versatile and robust than ever before – and backed by generations of experience and knowhow and no little energy – hopes are high for the seasons ahead as the wheel keeps turning:

“We try to invest in our machinery every year because we put a lot of hours up on our tractors. The price of diesel and tractors has increased and sheds have got very expensive, too, so there has been huge investment in the business,” Serena concludes. “But we’re busy all year now and the diversification into dairy is a big change and a massive step forward. We’re also going to up our potato numbers, so there’s another busy year ahead!”

Hatton Produce wouldn’t have it any other way and, as is customary at this wonderful County Wexford farm, the highest-quality potatoes, cereal and milk is guaranteed.

Hatton Produce,




County Wexford.

Email: [email protected]

First published in Irish Tractor & Agri magazine Vol 11 No 6, December 2023/January 2024