22 Dec 2017 | 09.42 am
‘Sustainability Is No Longer An Aspiration’
Michael Hoey in Country Crest explains the benefits of Origin Green
22 Dec 2017 | 09.42 am
Origin Green is Ireland’s voluntary national food sustainability programme, led by Bord Bia. Michael Hoey, Managing Director and co-owner of Country Crest, a successful family agri-food business based in Lusk, Co. Dublin, explains why his business is in the programme.
What is the background to your business?
My brother Gabriel and I grew up working on our father’s farm in Lusk, North County Dublin. We established Country Crest in 1993 to grow and pre-pack fresh potatoes for the retail sector. In 2008, we established a prepared foods division, focusing on quality vegetable accompaniments, which then lead to the creation of our sister company, Ballymaguire Foods. Today, we have three main strands to our business: farming, packing and producing fresh prepared meals.
Why did Country Crest join Origin Green?
After we won the Bord Bia Food & Drink Industry Sustainability Award in 2011, Bord Bia asked us to become one of the pilots for its Origin Green programme. It was a great honour to be invited onto the programme, and to be recognised for our various sustainability initiatives, including the installation of an 800kw wind turbine onsite.
What are the key points of your sustainability plan?
We set targets to improve key areas such as energy production and consumption; waste management and raw material sourcing; biodiversity; and social responsibility. We actively support social sustainability through local community projects and initiatives, and in developing countries such as Lesotho, Haiti and Ethiopia.
What progress have you made on these plans?
Our first plan ran from 2012 to 2016 and our second charter will take us from 2017 through until 2021. Our first plan highlights include the achieved 100% green energy used onsite, with approximately 50% generated onsite from our own turbine. Biodiversity targets were exceeded with the creation of a wildlife pond, heritage orchard, native tree and hedgerow planting.
How does Origin Green benefit business, the environment and society?
It is our responsibility to be guardians of the land for our lifetime and to leave it in better shape than we found it. Origin Green gives us a platform and knowledge to do so by focusing on sustainable Irish food production. Every company involved in food production or processing should be part of this programme. We continuously highlight the fact that we are a verified company to our customers within the retail sector. Now that public awareness of the programme is growing, we hope that our involvement and success in it will galvanise our business for the future.
How do you see sustainability evolving for business?
Sustainability is no longer an aspirational aspect to business, especially for Irish food businesses. Every boardroom now has to live sustainability; the customer and environment are demanding it. We have to deliver on it as did previously with quality and traceability.
Food companies who do not have Origin Green ingrained into their business plans will be left behind. With the support of Origin Green and what it stands for, we aspire to lead the way in sustainable healthy food innovation.
• For more details on the Origin Green programme, visit origingreen.ie