Profiles of some of our growers
Breffini Mushrooms go from strength to strength with CMP
In 1999 Pat Kiernan started his own mushroom business in County Cavan. He grew up on a farm, and has been involved in agriculture all his life. “During the 1980s I had a job in the compost yard in Foxfield Mushrooms and that’s what piqued my interested in the business,” says Kiernan.
Kiernan has a very strong track record in farming and runs a 150-head dry stock farm, in addition to a very busy mushroom enterprise. In 1999 he won an international award from Teagasc for the quality of his herd. “It was a great achievement and it reflected the effort we put into the quality of our stock,” he says.
Tragedy struck in 2001 when Pat’s prize herd was struck down with tuberculosis. “After spending years building up the business, it was very traumatic to see it all wiped out over night,” he says.
Far from letting it get to him, Kiernan used the experience to diversify and grow his business. “After that I decided to get more seriously into mushroom production and I teamed up with my brother Thomas to form Kildorough Mushrooms.”
Back then the Kiernan brothers had five small tunnels producing 18,000 lbs of mushrooms per week. In the ten years since they have grown massively and now employ 115 staff over 25 tunnels producing a staggering 170,000 lbs of mushrooms each week – enough to feed one in every two households in Ireland.
Pat says that a strong commitment to quality and innovation has helped them to grow over the years. “We have been members of CMP from the start and without their input this business would not have grown to be so successful.”
Over the last few years CMP has consistently invested in technology at Kildorough Mushrooms. “On a practical level CMP have provided OFI for shelving units in the tunnels, and 75 automated picking trolleys, which increased efficiency by 20%,” he says.
Training of staff has also been very important for our development. “Over the last three years we’ve availed of CMP’s training programme to get all of our pickers FETAC trained. This adds a level of skill and expertise to the job that didn’t exist before and hugely adds to the quality of our mushrooms,” he adds.
At present CMP are investing in a new wood chip boiler for Kildorough Mushrooms, which will reduce operating costs even further “Anything that reduces energy costs is very well received, and this new source of sustainable heat will significantly cut our overheads.”
Kiernan is upbeat about the future. “ In little over a decade we’ve gone from a small player to one of the most important producers of mushrooms in Ireland. This has been possible thanks to drive, constant innovation and in no small way the help support and marketing strength of a strong producer organisation in CMP.”