Ripe for the picking Donnelly Fresh Foods
In operation for more than 30 years Donnelly Fresh foods talks to AgriLand about its all encompassing business operation and its commitment to the customers of tomorrow.
Donnelly Fresh Foods are based in St Margaret’s, North County Dublin and employ up to 200 people. 100 per cent Irish owned the company excels in sourcing and supplying high-quality fresh seasonal fruit and vegetables through its carefully selected network of growers.
Alan Waters of Donnelly Fresh Foods summed up the ethos of the organisation: “Creating great food is at the heart of everything Donnelly do, it requires super ingredients prepared with care and a touch of imagination.”
The company also packs, prepares and delivers to stores nationwide and its retailers range from supermarkets such as Aldi and Supervalu to boutique grocers such as Fallon and Byrne and Avoca. In addition to preparing great tasting deli salads, ready-to-eat salad leaves and prepared vegetables Donnelly Chilled Distribution operates in partnership with BWG Foods to supply all chilled deliveries to its stores nationwide.
In 2004 the company moved into the prepared salads category facilitated by a large extension to its premises in St Margaret’s to house Wonderfoods, its prepared salads, vegetables and meal solutions division.
The rise of the time-strapped but health conscious consumer has seen a steady increase on-the-go-products and Donnelly’s was keen to get a slice of the action.
Waters divulged the key factors behind the move: “The decision was born out of an obvious opportunity for us to merge and expand our expertise and experience in conventional fruit and veg’ in to a growing sector with more and more shoppers seeking convenient and healthy fresh foods. It was also a logical progression for us in terms of synergies in our business, from the point of view of purchasing, logistics, storage and packing.”
As well as meeting the changing needs of consumers, Donnelly’s also grasp any opportunity to get down to grass roots and meet its customers. For the third year in a row the company has attended the Bloom festival and an event enjoyed by shoppers and producers alike.
According to Waters: “All of us in Donnelly Fresh Foods now feel that it is an event that we simply cannot afford to miss! Events such as Bloom allow growers and producers to meet shoppers in a relaxing pleasant environment, and permits interaction beyond what can occur through traditional routes such as on-packaging or via websites/social media. It would be good to see maybe two or three more Bloom-type events in the calendar.”
The enthusiasm and energy of Donnelly is evident, not only from its wide range of products, but also from its commitment to the community.
In terms of the environment the company adopts a practical approach using Glen Arís a crate washing operation to provide reusable crates for its chilled foods operation, thus saving unquantifiable amounts of cardboard and trees annually.
Donnelly has also linked up with Bord Bia and Agri Aware’s Incredible Edibles initiative. Incredible Edibles is a healthy eating initiative for primary school pupils. It encourages schools across the country to get busy growing carrots, lettuce, potatoes, strawberries and turnips. Schools are supplied with raised beds and grow packs and everything that’s needed to learn about where food comes from and the importance of fruit, vegetables and potatoes!
When asked about the support the government provides to Irish producers, Waters remains both realistic but optimistic.
He said: “Like many Irish companies we face multiple challenges on multiple fronts, and that’s just before we have to factor the weather in to the mix! We do a lot of work with, and get good support from, Bord Bia, but shoppers need to have their confidence restored in the present and confidence restored in the future; the pervading depression needs strong trustworthy leadership to lift the gloom.”
Currently Donnelly’s have an expansive selection of products produced fresh daily to order in St Margaret’s for its customers. One glance at the fresh and engaging website and its clear the company is still looking to the future, according to Waters.
“There is an appetite amongst shoppers for more new ideas and more choices that will help make their lives easier, choices clearer and most importantly healthier.”
Donnelly’s can be found on Twitter (@DonnellyFandVeg), Facebook www.facebook.com/DonnellyFreshFoods), and also on their website (www.Donnelly.ie).
By Kathleen Rowley
Pictured fruit and vegtable market Donnelly’s Olga Seredovic and Alan Waters. Picture: Nick Bradshaw