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Ireland: Fresh produce trade on the up

Things seem to be on the up in Ireland, tourist numbers are increasing again and with that the demand for fresh produce is also increasing.

"There is more positivity in Ireland in general and this is also seen in the fresh produce sector, I wouldn't say the recession is totally over, but there are indications that we are on track. Unemployment is down and GDP is up, Ireland has one of the highest GDPs in Europe at the moment," explains Justin Leonard, Managing Director of Jackie Leonard & Sons.


Hotel occupancy in Dublin is up 70-80%, and a report by RAI (Restaurant Association of Ireland) said there was a need for an extra 15,000 rooms in Dublin alone. Leonard, who is based at the Smithfields Market in Dublin has notice a marked increase in numbers of coaches visiting Jameson's Distillery which is next to the market. The tourist season finished in September but people are still coming, Ireland is also once again the top short break destination in Europe.

"The number of tourists has a direct affect on demand for fresh produce from the catering trade and this is easy to see," according to Leonard. "Our sales have increased 20% in the last year and we invested in 180,000 Euro in new vehicles this year so far, forklifts vans and light commercial vans."

Leonards is in the business of wholesale and food distribution, also processing and fresh cut. "The day of the commis chef, who washed and cut the veg in hotels and restaurants is gone. Now there is one main chef and a few assistants, everything is prepared and fresh cut before it is delivered," said Leonard.

The company supplies wholesale bulk bags of 5-10kg of fresh cut vegetables and also supply retail 100g and 200g bags.

Irish consumers are also going more often to the supermarkets instead of going once a week, but according to Justin they are going to pick up the special offers so they are still watching the pennies.

One of the biggest trends in Ireland just now is in healthy eating. Leonard said that in the last 12-18 months there has been a huge increase in demand for sweet potatoes, butternut squash, candy beetroot, red beetroot and pumpkin, before he would sell just 10-20 cases of sweet potato per week and now it's 2-3 tons per week, also beetroot which was also just a side line is now up to 200 kg per week.

Sweet potatoes are 3-4 times the price of normal potatoes so its purely due to the health benefits that people are buying them and also kids like them more that a normal potato.

Another increase according to Justin is in the demand for peeled sprouts, "People just don't want to stand and peel then any more."

For more information:
Justin Leonard
Jackie Leonard and Sons.
Tel: +353 1 873 3055

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