Consumers urged to buy Irish vegetables this Christmas

On a visit to the farm of Enda Weldon and his family farm in North Dublin today Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Tom Hayes, is urging consumers to purchase Irish-produced vegetables.

Minister Hayes, who has responsibility for horticulture at the department, noted while inspecting some of the Irish Brussels sprout crop that: “Given the good weather over recent months there was a strong supply of excellent-quality Irish seasonal fresh field vegetables available at present including parsnips, carrots, cauliflower, cabbage and swedes as well as the Christmas season sprouts.”

The Weldon family are one of Ireland’s largest specialised Brussels sprout producers. They harvest sprouts from September through to March each year, however to meet Christmas demand about one third of their annual crop is harvested in the month of December.

Between now and Christmas the Weldon family hope to harvest more than 400 tonnes of sprouts, over 13 million individual sprouts. In excess of 30 people are employed on the Weldon’s family farm in December specifically to harvest and prepare the sprout crop for the consumer.

Weldon outlined that the sprouts have to be cooled, graded, packed and on their supermarket customer’s shelves within 24 hours of harvest. To meet consumer demand in light of this very tight timeframe, the Weldon’s operation will run 24 hours a day for the 10 days running up to Christmas.

According to Weldon: “December sales determine the year’s overall profitability for Irish spout growers. We urge consumers to support local growers by seeking Irish-produced sprouts and other seasonal Irish vegetables this Christmas.”

Packed with nutrients, this year’s Irish sprouts will be sweeter than normal due to high sunshine levels over recent months. Modern sprout varieties produce a slower growing tastier sprout that is better nutritionally than the crops years ago.

Minister Hayes added: “All consumers should check the country of origin labelling on all fresh fruit and vegetables prior to purchase so they know exactly where their produce is coming from.

“Where possible consumers should seek Bord Bia Quality Assured produce this Christmas so they can rest assured they are getting traceable, quality food that has been produced in a sustainable manner in Ireland.”

Pictured Minister of State with responsibility for horticulture at the Department of Agriculture, Tom Hayes with Enda Weldon, Mark Taylor, Denis Harford, John Thorne and Martin Guy in North Co Dublin this afternoon