Leo Dunne Ltd is based right on the River Nore in Durrow, Co. Laois. For nearly a century, the Dunne family has grown and supplied premium Irish vegetables and they are passionate about what they do.
The health benefits of carrots include reduced cholesterol, prevention from heart attacks, warding off of certain cancers, improved vision and reduced signs of premature aging.
Furthermore, carrots have the ability to increase the health of your skin, boost the immune system, improve digestion, increase cardiovascular health, detoxify the body, and boost oral health in a variety of ways. They also provide a well-rounded influx of vitamins and minerals.
Surrounded by some of the best agricultural land in the Irish midlands, Leo Dunne Ltd grow and pre-pack the highest quality conventional and organic Irish carrots and count large retail multiples such as Tesco and Dunnes Stores amongst their valued customer list.
The company employs 40 full-time staff plus 30 part-timers during the busy summer months and currently has 320 acres in vegetable production.
Originally, the Dunne family grew a variety of vegetables before a decision was taken to concentrate solely on growing carrots in the late 1970s. Since then, the Dunne name has become synonymous with the carrot growing sector. The family’s long-term commitment, knowledge and experience ensure consumers of the best and freshest Irish carrots.
One of only five dedicated carrot growers in the country, the Bord Bia accredited Leo Dunne Ltd is run by Leo Dunne, his wife Bernadette and their sons Emmett and Leo jnr. The family involvement doesn’t end there as Leo’s brothers Martin and Michael are also employed.
“There has been a much bigger emphasis on organic produce in recent years,” Emmet Dunne explained to Irish Tractor & Agri. “People are more health conscious nowadays and want more organic vegetables.
“We feel the demand is there in the market for fresh Irish produce, the demand is there for organic carrots, and there is scope for further growth to get more organic produce on the supermarket shelves.”
Leo Dunne Ltd’s organic produce carries the Organic Trust logo which is the centre of excellence when it comes to organic inspection and certification. As a result, the consumer can be confident that what they are buying was produced in compliance with strict organic standards.
As already mentioned, the Dunne family supplies carrots to Tesco and Dunnes Stores as well as to smaller retail outlets.
They have been supplying directly to Tesco since the supermarket chain first entered the Irish market in 1998. Many customers shop in Tesco because they know they stock the most extensive range of locally supplied products, from Irish vegetables and meat to bread and milk.
Sourcing from over 11,000 farm families, Tesco are committed to providing their customers with the very best and freshest produce. And Leo Dunne Ltd obviously fits the bill in this regard.
Among the accolades won by the Dunne family include the Tesco “Blue” Standard award and the Bord Bia Highly Commended award in the Best Organic Fruit & Vegetable category for their tasty Tesco 750kg organic carrots.
The Dunne’s grow their conventional and organic carrots on mostly rented land in the Durrow, Shanahoe and Cullohill areas of south Co. Laois. The carrots are harvested all year round, with the first of the early crop sown in early February and the rest being sown in April and May.
The carrots are covered with plastic and straw in the winter to protect them from the elements as Emmett explains: “The plastic and straw covering acts like a big blanket that protects the carrots from the frost. There is a lot of work and expense involved in this, but it is necessary in the Irish climate.
“When it is time to harvest the carrots, we remove the straw and plastic wrap. The harvesting then takes place and the carrots are taken to our washing and packing department.”
The ploughing and sowing work is carried out each spring by local agricultural contractors, who also spend three weeks putting down the straw every October. The soil-type in the Durrow area, which is known as Grace’s Wood, is particularly suited to growing carrots.
Modern machines are used for the cultivation of the roots. The carrots are then taken to an on-site production facility where they are washed, hydro-cooled, graded and packed. Not all of the carrots are packed with many consumers still preferring to buy their carrots loose.
Thanks to their state-of-the-art high-care processing carrot line, the whole washing, sorting and packing process is quick and efficient. The carrots are harvested at 6 o’clock each morning and will be on the shop shelves within 24 hours, meaning freshness is always guaranteed with Leo Dunne Ltd.
“We are constantly investing in our facility in terms of keeping up with the latest machinery out there to ensure an efficient factory,” Emmett added before concluding: “We pride ourselves on the quality and freshness of our produce.”
Leo Dunne Ltd
Work: 00 353 57 873 6263
Mobile: 086 8106957
Email: [email protected]
Taken from Irish Tractor & Agri magazine Vol 5 No 7, October/November 2017