21 April 2014

Helping to grow a stronger supply chain


Agriculture Minister, Michelle O’Neill today said she was encouraged by the resilience and strength of the local vegetable sector supply chain.

The Minister was speaking as she visited three vegetable production businesses in County Down; Roy Lyttle Ltd, Sparky Pac and Mash Direct.

The vegetable and salad industry in the north is worth approximately £13.5million per year. Vegetable crops are grown on around 1,300ha of land by about 60 growers.

During the visits the Minister heard about the many challenges the industry currently faces, not least rising input costs. She said: “My Department, through the College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise, will continue to offer business development advice, training and knowledge and technology transfer to help local vegetable businesses move forward in these challenging times.

“However, it is clear from the growth of the businesses I have seen today that this sector has proven itself to be both resilient and reactive to the challenges faced. As the sales of companies such as Mash Direct and Sparky Pac grow, they require more raw product. This is therefore a win – win situation for grower, packer and processor.”

[Pictured: Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development Michelle O'Neill during her visit to Sparky Pac in Comber, with owner Mark McKee]

Notes to editors:
1.The EU Agricultural and Forestry Processing and Marketing Grant Scheme (PMG) is a key measure under Axis 1 of the rural Development Programme 2007 – 2013.
2.The PMG is open to sole traders through to intermediate sized businesses. Grant is awarded on a competitive basis and the maximum grant rate is 40%.
3.The first awards under the current scheme were made in 2008 and to date funding of £11.5million has been approved to 45 projects.
4.Under PMG Sparky Pac was awarded funding of £500,000 in 2008 towards a £1.5million investment for a new pack house facility. Roy Lyttle Ltd has recently been awarded PMG grant of £66,096 towards expansion of the pack house facilities.

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